It used to be that serious mountaineers spent their entire careers working their way up to a Mount Everest summit bid. But in recent years, climbing Everest has seemed like a dilettante's pursuit: Any socialite with a Himalayan-size wallet can buy their way up the Big One, no matter if they endanger themselves, their teammates, or their guides. Today's reality lies somewhere in between. Radically light new gear, flexible work schedules, and a glut of guiding services have made Everest's 29,035-foot summit a much more attainable goal than it was even 20 years ago. But no matter how rich you are, you've still got to be prepared for the ordeal. Our three-year training program explains how a rank amateur can make it to the top of the world – the right way.
Rainier 2.0 (August 2015)
"You'll need to get more mountaineering skills," says Whittaker. "Taking a hero shot of yourself on Rainier to show friends and family back home is great, but you need additional experience." That means learning how to kick-step with crampons, swing your ice ax like a pro, work your way up a fixed line, drive anchors into seemingly impenetrable ice, rappel in single-digit temperatures with numb fingers, belay a buddy without killing him, and rescue said pal from a crevasse. Whittaker offers a six-day seminar on Rainier's Kautz or Emmons glacier. "Be sure you go with someone who knows what he's doing," adds Viesturs. "It's about more than just learning to climb; it's about learning to be a team member, traveling with more than just two people." Your second climb of Rainier should feel easier physically, which is a good barometer of how your training is progressing.
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