While only 8,000 to 13,000 people register for climbing passes and attempt to reach Mt. Rainier’s summit, the national park still welcomes about 2 million visitors each year. For years, people would urinate and defecate on the mountain, thinking they weren’t doing any real harm. Today, we know that leaving human waste in the wilderness may contaminate water sources, spread human fecal bacteria, and ruin the beauty of the mountain.
Because of the growing trash and waste problem, Mt. Rainier now implements strict rules and regulations to minimize the human impact that may result in the decline of the mountain and park’s integrity. They also strongly support the Leave No Trace movement and encourage all visitors to adopt LNT practices.
To gain the most memorable experience and not add to Mt. Rainier’s sanitation and waste removal problems, your list of items to bring on an expedition should include a solution that allows you to pack out your wastes.
Blue Bag vs. Waste Bag
While there are toilet facilities at Camp Schurman and Camp Muir, they won’t be accessible to you once you’re hours or days into the expedition. Also, the facilities can only accommodate approximately 25 people on a first-come, first-served basis. If you’re climbing during peak season, you may lose your chance to use the toilet at the high camps because the first 25 people ahead of you already took all the slots.
“Blue bags” for packing out wastes will be available at the high camps and ranger stations; however, the problem with blue bags is that they’re nothing more than two plastic bags that come with twist ties.
RESTOP waste bags offer mountain climbers a more sanitary solution to pack out their wastes. All RESTOP waste bags boast a puncture-proof and spill-proof design; they are also odor free and even come with ample toilet paper and microbial wipes. Waste Bag is an industry standard term that stands for ‘Waste Alleviation and Gelling’ Bag.
The RESTOP RS1 is a waste bag for urine; it contains superabsorbent polymers and enzymes that will absorb a full 20 ounces of liquid waste. It has a wide opening with a semi-rigid rim which makes it easy to use for both men and women. It also has one-valve to help prevent spillage.
For both liquid and solid waste, use the RS2 which has the same polymers and enzymes as the RS1. Once the wastes hit the inside of the bag, they are broken down and converted into a deodorized gel. To safely and securely contain the solidified wastes, the RS2 was designed with a patented triple layer bag. Unlike the blue bag, it seals securely; it can be rolled up and stowed away in your backpack without fear of it bursting open and spilling its contents.
Mt. Rainier strictly prohibits the disposal of blue bags in just any trash receptacle; they must only be deposited in collection barrels specifically labeled for blue bag disposal. Unlike the standard blue bag, RESTOP waste bags are landfill-safe and can be thrown away in any regular trash can.