High Points: Mt. Rainier, Washington

Get to the top and you'll hear a joyous echo
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Get to the top and you'll hear a joyous echo

Towering 9,000 feet above the lush foothills of its namesake park, Rainier is so massive it's visible in any direction for 100 miles--when it's not lurking behind a lenticular cloud. First-timers typically follow the Disappointment Cleaver Route, heading from the Paradise Ranger Station at 5,420 feet to Camp Muir, a primitive stone hut at 10,000 feet renowned for its sleep-depriving cacophony of snoring and flatulence. (Hint: Bring a tent and sleep outside.) With a 2 a.m. start and 6 to 8 hours of climbing, you'll crest the crater rim and stroll across the waffled icy floor to the western rim and Columbia Crest, the true summit. Time permitting, explore the summit ice caves and hear your joyous echo inside one of the great mountains on Earth.

Elevation: 14,410 feet

Rank: 4

Contact: Mt. Rainier National Park, (360) 569-2211

USGS Topos: Mount Rainier East; Mount Rainier West

Eat: Highlander Steakhouse, Ashford, (360) 569-2953

Sleep: Whittaker's Bunkhouse, Ashford, (360) 569-2439

Gear: Summit Haus, Ashford, (800) 238-5756