All the literature and websites in the world can't really prepare you for what it is really like up on the mountain and how well or not you will respond to it. Firstly, what a really really fabulous experience! The mountain is completely gorgeous, the views breathtaking and being immersed amongst it all fairly phenomenal. I was also blessed with really great weather which made it all the more magical. But lets be realistic about mountain climbing- it is not easy!!! Of the 14,400ft to the summit, my personal summit was 12,600ft - an elevation I was completely ecstatic to reach once I had the chance to really test my fitness and preparation against the mountain herself.
When you are told to be in the shape of your life you really do need to be, but it is hard to understand what that really means until you test it. On reflection, there was not much else I could have squeezed into my training program given my work schedule, but for next time (and there will be a next time!) I need to make sure I do more! For me, apart from swapping jobs to allow for more time, I think that would involve training as if for a marathon, or interval training, to really build up my cardiovascular fitness which I gather will also help with dealing with altitude. One of my team mates used a recommended Denali training program he found on the internet which worked well for him.
I had minimal problems with gear which was all loaned from RMI except for my harness which had to be swapped out for a more female friendly 'pee on the side of the mountain while roped to your team without taking it off' type, but which I found felt like it restricted my breathing. So perhaps I would purchase one and spend some time getting comfortable with it prior to the climb.
So for anyone who read this blog and are thinking of or working towards a Rainier climb, my big tip is whatever you are doing for preparation, definitely try to squeeze in MORE, you can never underestimate how helpful that will be. And whether you make it to the top or not, you will have a great time! A huge thanks to the wonderful guides and all the staff at RMI for a fantastic trip, I will see you all next time :)