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5 Things I’m Doing to Successfully Summit Mount Rainier

April is a first generation, Filipina-American residing in the PNW. Her love for the outdoors blossomed after joining the military and being exposed to better ways to enjoy the outdoors than through “field training exercises.” Now an avid backpacker, hiker, and aspiring mountaineer, April thrives on outdoor adventures. She sees challenges as opportunities for growth and enjoys pushing herself physically, mentally, and technically. April will attempt to summit Mount Rainier with an all-veteran rope team at the end of July for her adventure fundraiser with The Cairn Project. See her fundraiser or her Instagram.

april looks at the camera wearing a hood and a gps device

Quick Stats Mount Rainier

Total Mileage: 14.9 miles
Trail Shape: out and back
Trip Length: 2-3 days
Trailhead: Paradise Inn lot at Mount Rainier National Park
Closest town to trailhead: Elbe or Ashford
Ending point:  Mount Rainier (Mount Tahoma) Summit then back down to Paradise Inn lot
Closest town to trailend: Elbe or Ashford
Dogs Allowed: No dogs allowed
Permit Required: A climbing permit is required when travel is above 10,000ft or on glaciers.

Pre-Trip Thoughts

I’m very anxious (but excited!) to attempt a summit of Mount Rainier. Over the past year, I’ve been growing as an aspiring mountaineer by hiking and backpacking around the Pacific Northwest. I have successfully summited Mount St Helens (Loowit), Mount Baker (Koma Kulshan), and Glacier Peak (Dakhobed). I made a summit attempt ofMount Adams (Klickitat) but failed due to whiteout weather conditions – I’ll be back for that summit another time! I’ve learned a lot from my volcano summit attempts:

  • proper footwear can prevent the “hiker’s toe” that I currently have
  • adequate salt and fluid intake are SUPER important to prevent muscle cramps; 
  • sometimes it’s okay to let Mother Nature win and try again another day. 

As I get closer to my summit bid day, I’m continually building upon my fitness foundation. I am also staying cognizant of conditions on the mountain via beta shared on Facebook climbing groups and trip reports. Staying plugged into hazards before I get there helps me to stay alert when I’m on the route. Wish me luck!

5 Things I’m Doing to to Successfully Summit Mount Rainier

  1. Fitness
    I’m building upon my basis of fitness that I’ve grown over the past decade in uniform. In the Army, running and walking around with a heavy pack is normal. Now, I need to dial in those skills and ensure that I can continue to perform when traveling at elevation and when I’m on a rope team. Mountaineering involves a combination of anaerobic and aerobic capacity while also incorporating strength training. It’s important to me that I balance all three without a heavier emphasis on one more than the others.
  2. Gear
    Proper gear is crucial for performance and safety. I want to ensure that I have the right materials and layers for warmth while also having ergonomic pieces of equipment for traveling on varying terrain. Compiling this gear can get pricey, so I’ve tried to read reviews online for the best equipment (that is also at the right price point for my own means). I’ve also taken advantage of used gear and consignment shops. You don’t always need brand new equipment to be effective!
  3. Skill/technique
    Investing time in practicing skills regarding snow travel, crevasse awareness, self-rescue skills, knots, etc is super important. While independent performance is key, rope team competence and dynamics are also crucial – especially when traversing glaciers with open crevasses. If you don’t know how to rescue yourself, you might be compromising your teammates on the rope team as well. I want to be a good team member, so I’m always looking to refine my skill sets and techniques!
  4. Diet and nutrition
    Cognizance of calorie intake and expenditure is also really important to me. I’ve had adventures where I packed too much food, so I carried a lot of weight. This made me carry less food on my next adventure to prevent extra weight to carry; however, I suffered the consequence of not having enough calories to fuel my body. This is super dangerous and not something to emulate on the mountain. Leading up to my summit, I’m trying to be aware of how I’m fueling myself and also ensuring that I’m carrying enough calories to keep me going. 
  5. Mindset
    Mountaineering is such an unpredictable sport.  You can prepare all you want but there are always external factors that can change your adventure situation. Whether that is bad weather, internal body functions affecting performance, or whatever Murphy’s Law wants to toss at you on the day, I endeavor to instill in myself that it’s all about the journey and to not let “summit fever” coax me into making a sketchy/dangerous decision to push forward when I shouldn’t, just because the summit seems “so close.” 
april wears a big backpack and smiles to the camera

Final Thoughts

When I first moved to Washington in 2021, I remember ogling at Mount Tahoma in the distance  but scoffing at someone who suggested that I go and climb it one day. I honestly didn’t think that was in my realm of possibilities. Over time, I started to hike and backpack more in the PNW. With each adventure, I became more confident in the outdoors and my capabilities. The next thing I knew, I was taking an interest in mountaineering and signed up for courses to learn these skills. I loved “turning into” the challenge and how amazing I felt inside to know that my body and mind could accomplish amazing things. In retrospect, I am thankful for the privilege to be able to afford training and gear to be able to equip me with enough knowledge and experience to feel confident in my ability to at least try to summit Mount Tahoma. Without that privilege, I wouldn’t have been able to open this door to newer horizons and possibilities for myself to grow and learn.  

By fundraising through The Cairn Project, my goal is to be able to help other girls+ have the opportunity to take part in and experience the same. The lessons that I’ve taken away from my time in the military, mountaineering leadership, and outdoor activities transcend into my daily life and mindset and I’m extremely thankful for it. If alleviating a financial barrier for a girl+ can help open at least one door for her, I’m all for it. 

If you’d like to help me in reaching my goal of raising $2,000, contribute to my fundraiser.

april walks away from the camera with a large mountain in the background
april wears a big backpack and smiles to the camera
April Martinez
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April is based in Seattle, Washington, and she loves to backpack and hike. She’s scheming a big mountain PNW expedition this summer, and we can’t wait to follow along!

April’s first foray into outdoor “adventure” came via “field training exercises” when she joined the military. After serving for seven years, she’s packing all the adventure she can into a “gap year” before she heads to school