For a long time, Argentine mountain guide Willie Benegas owned the Mt. Rainier speed record. It’s classically recorded from the Paradise parking (5,400 feet) lot to the summit (14,411 feet) and back via the Disappointment Cleaver route. Willie ran up and ran down after being acclimatized to the Himalaya and did it in 4 hours and 40 minutes, which is insane.
For some perspective: most climbers take about 36 hours with 6 of those hours being sleep halfway up. When I guide Rainier, it’s the same. We leave the parking lot at Paradise about 10am then return to Paradise at about 4pm the next day.
A few weeks ago, Eric Carter & Nick Elson upped the record to 4:19:12 using skis (a huge downhill advantage).
Last week, Jason & Andy Dorias broke the record at 3:57:55 using skis and speed suits.
“The crater rim [the summit] came into view but looked impossibly far away. However, my pain-addled mind was in a time warp, because seconds later, we crested the rim and found ourselves in a whiteout. Of the 9,000 feet of ascent, 8,950 were brilliantly sunny. Then the last couple minutes were anticlimactic as we followed wands and unceremoniously transitioned. Our friend Noah, who graciously joined us on the trip to offer support, was on the summit. I wanted to talk with him but only grunted a few unintelligible sounds as I ripped skins. We then turned around to see how well we could hold it together for one of the longest continuous ski descents in the lower 48. The watch read 3:15:39.” – Andy Dorias/Outdoor Research
THE RECORD RAINIER CLIMB:
– They hit Camp Muir in 1 hour and 22 minutes
– Randonee skis used with skins to ascend to Disappointment Cleaver
– Skinned with ski crampons and booted up Disappointment Cleaver
– They skinned with ski crampons above the Cleaver
– They reached the summit at 3:15:39 (that’s 9,000 vertical feet in 3 hours and 15 minutes!)
– Snow was good for the ski descent and they hit Camp Muir at 3:43
– They skied down the Muir Snowfield and reached the Paradise parking lot at 3:57:39
“Once out of the crater, I was fighting cramps in my quads, adductors, and hamstrings. This was going to be difficult. Mercifully, I found the upper mountain to ski quite well and was able to relax as Jason thought it slightly more difficult. Onto the Cleaver, we were cruising and perfect corn made this portion fast and easy. Jason glanced at his watch and said sub four hours would be hard. I thought just getting down the last 6,000 feet without stopping would be hard.” – Andy Dorias/Outdoor Research
This is a very impressive feat that should hold up for a bit. As a guide on Rainier that is used to slogging around that mountain very slowly, it’s hard to imagine summiting and being back in the parking lot in less than 4 hours. I’ve never even done a one day round trip to the summit.
These guys are strong and I’m excited to see what they’ll do next. I’m hoping they have their sights on 20,320-foot Denali.
Read every detail about this record speed summit here: Dorias brothers Speed Summit Rainier