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I've seen many suggestions/recommendations for so-called "approach shoes" needed for climbing presumably just to Camp Muir on Mt. Rainier. I'm going to be joining an RMI-lead expedition for a summit attempt late this July.

I don't have approach shoes but I do have broken-in Lowa Renegades that I trust and feel good in (no, I won't be using this for the summit day, just to get to the camp).

Here's my question: is it OK or unwise (for this hike) to use these specific boots in place of approach shoes?

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  • 2
    Have you asked RMI? They’re probably a lot more knowledgeable about this. Jun 20 at 19:36
  • 2
    Have you asked RMI or your group leader?
    – DavidSupportsMonica
    Jun 20 at 21:04
  • I haven't but will do so and report back an answer here...
    – nate
    Jun 21 at 11:09

2 Answers 2

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Note: I am not from North America, have never been to Mt Rainier, and have no experience on the terrain or local conditions at any time of year in the vicinity. So, take advice with a grain of salt and consult on-the-ground experts like your guiding service.

I had a look at the guide for the Disappointment-Cleaver Route Brief(PDF), from the National Park Service page on climbing Mt Rainier,

From this I think I can say a definitive No. There is extensive snow travel, and a fairly complex route, that if it goes wrong, will lead you into difficult terrain with crevasses, melt-holes etc. To quote pg 12 of the guide:

Camp Muir and the Muir Snowfield are nearly surrounded by glaciers: the Nisqually Glacier to the west, the Cowlitz Glacier to the north and east, and the Paradise Glacier to the south and east. A minor error in navigation may lead you onto these glaciers where there are numerous crevasses and other hazards.

To deal with these you would want a boot that can handle crampons effectively. Lowa Renegades appear to only be suitable for light strap-on crampons, not proper crampons.

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I have climbed Mt Rainier, via Camp Muir and the Disappointment Cleaver Route. There is absolutely no need for approach shoes on the route. The same mountaineering boots that you will wear on summit day will be most appropriate to climb to Camp Muir as well. Getting to Camp Muir is one long slog up snow or ice, depending on the time of year and weather conditions. You may or may not want crampons for that portion (you will higher up!) but you'll definitely want real boots. Save the weight of bringing extra shoes and just wear your same boots the whole way up.

Note: I'm assuming you're asking about bringing approach shoes in addition to mountaineering boots. If the only shoes you have are the boots you mentioned then you need to find and break in a new pair before you go because the Lowa's you highlighted won't cut it.

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  • Don't know about climbing to Camp Muir early or laate in the season, but in summer, crampons are not necessary,
    – ab2
    Jun 24 at 21:13
  • @ab2 Agreed about in summer. However, since we don't know when the OP is planning to climb I included that option. There are certainly times of year I would assume they'd be necessary.
    – cbw
    Jun 24 at 21:48

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