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In 1792, British explorer Captain George Vancouver named the mountain for his friend Rear Admiral Peter Rainier (who never visited his namesake peak.)
The volcano's proximity to urban centers such as Tacoma, Olympia and Seattle, means Mount Rainier has long made an impression on the local population. (It is still an awesome sight today, putting the skyscrapers into perspective!) The first recorded summating of the mountain took place on August 17, 1870 by Philemon Beecher Van Trump and Hazard Stevens. Only the good fortune of finding a warm volcanic steam cave kept the two men from freezing to death during an unplanned overnight stay on the summit. This was at a time when Seattle had a population of little more than 1,000, yet this climb and others made the news.
In the days of travel by horseback, tourists could get to the mountain in 2-3 days. In the 1850s, James Longmire, a farmer settled near Yelm Prairie, established the Packwood Trail. He guided many aspiring mountain climbers on this route from the Pacific coast to Mount Rainier's slopes. Increasing visitation led to a campaign to protect the area as a national park.
In 1899, Mount Rainier was the fifth area in the United States to be designated a National Park. In 1911 the first car reached the area. As roads and railways began pushing into the wilderness, and the population grew, so did the number of visitors to the National Park. Annual visitation was already exceeding one million in the 1950s, and continues to exceed two million today. Of these, thousands complete the two-day trip to the summit. Some have explored the melted tunnels in the ice-cap. In 1962 Rainier was used as the training ground for the successful American expedition to Mount Everest.
Best selection of books on the Northwest.
Mt. Rainier: Adventures and Views by John Harlin III and James Martin. Get up close and personal with the of Mount Rainier. Photographer James Martin captures the awesome beauty of this majestic peak, from its icy glaciers to its lush alpine meadows, while climber and writer John Harlin provides engrossing accounts of adventure on the mountain. Order now...
Washington's Mount Rainier National Park: A Centennial Celebration by Tim McNulty and Pat O'Hara. In this official book, O'Hara and McNulty view the mountain through all its facets: from the geologic and climatic forces that continue to shape it, the rich legacy of humans' relationship with it and its delicate ecosystems. Order now...
Adventure Guide to Mount Rainier: Hiking, Climbing and Skiing in Mt. Rainier National Park by Jeff Smoot. Includes descriptions of tourist trails, nature trails, off-trail hiking, bike routes, minor peak scrambling, skiing and snowshoeing areas, and of course, summit routes. Order now...
Mount Rainier: A Climbing Guide 2nd Edition by Mike Gauthier. From the Lead Climbing Ranger for Mt Rainier National Park. The latest information on logistics, regulations and permits. Expanded material on understanding and surmounting Rainier's glaciers, tips on selecting a guide service, mountaineering training sites around Rainier and bonus routes on adjacent Little Tahoma. Order now...
Day Hike! Mount Rainier: The Best Trails You Can Hike in a Day, 3rd Edition by Ron C. Judd. This guide features over 50 of the best trails for day hikes. Each trail is rated and range from easy-moderated to difficult-extreme. Also included are topographical maps, trail descriptions and photographs. Order now...
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