Rainier 2.0 (August 2015)
Credit: Per Breiehagen / Getty Images

"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.