Friday, May 18, 2018

White River Road is Open

Liberty Ridge on May 7, 2018
As of May 17, 2018 the White River Road is now open to the campground and trailhead! The road remains closed beyond this point and is snow-covered to Sunrise.

Climbers attempting the Emmons Glacier or other routes on this side of the mountain should come prepared for difficult travel conditions getting to Glacier Basin. There are no established routes on the upper mountain. Be equipped and proficient with a GPS and a map & compass for off-trail navigation.

The weather is looking quite unsettled for the next few days. This will lead to challenging conditions on the upper mountain with cloud cover, snowfall, and cooler temperatures than have been experienced recently. Spring conditions have returned to the upper mountain.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Route Update: Ingraham Direct and Gibraltar Ledges

On Wednesday, May 16th, climbing rangers ascended the Gibraltar Ledges route from Camp Muir and descended via the Ingraham Direct.  Mild temperatures and minimal wind made for good climbing conditions, even though visitors at Paradise saw only glimpses of the mountain through the marine layer clouds.  The standard route from Camp Muir ascends to Ingraham Flats, then continues straight up the Ingraham Glacier and upper Nisqually Glacier to the crater rim.

The Ingraham Direct route from Camp Muir.  
The most heavily crevassed area on the route is between 11,500 and 11,800 feet on the Ingraham Glacier.  Remember to keep the rope tight between you and your partners when crossing crevasses over snow bridges.  At 12,200 feet, the route trends climber's left towards the top of Gibraltar Rock and Camp Comfort.  From there, the route follows a fairly direct path, occasionally end-running larger crevasses on the upper glacier.

Descending above Ingraham Flats.
The guide services have marked the route well with wands.  Disappointment Cleaver collected a lot of snow last winter (right side of photo above) but there is currently no boot pack going up the Cleaver.

Rangers found decent climbing conditions on the ascent up Gib Ledges.  The route is still mostly snow covered at this time, although several sections of loose rock exist.  Be aware of rockfall and move quickly under Gibraltar Rock.  The snow on the ledges was quite firm, with a little verglas; necessitating careful cramponing.

Gibraltar Ledges
If you plan on climbing this weekend, be sure to check the Mt. Rainier Recreational Forecast.  A dynamic weather pattern will persist through the weekend and into next week.  Be sure to carry a GPS and be proficient with navigation in the event that weather deteriorates during your climb or the trip to high camp.  The Paradise Wilderness Information Center (formerly the Climbing Information Center) is open this weekend and issuing climbing permits--stop by before heading up the mountain. Climb safe and have fun!

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Spring Route Update - May 9, 2018

This picture shows the upper section of the Central Mowich Face in the foreground. The Sunset Amphitheater ridge line connects the Mowich Face to the Tahoma Glacier in the background.
Climbing Rangers have been out training on the mountain with the military over the past few days. Good weather provided the opportunity to get more early season photos of the upper mountain. These photos were taken May 7th, 2018. Remember that conditions change frequently this time of year. Snow coverage and surface conditions in these photos could be different.

Concessionaire guiding operations began this week on the Disappointment Cleaver route. The route currently ascends the Ingraham Glacier Direct and traverses over to Camp Comfort atop Gibraltar Rock before going to the summit. Conditions on the Ingraham Glacier are dynamic and this route often falls out of condition quickly.

Disappointment Cleaver
Other notable observations included large crevasses opening on the Carbon Glacier, and a large crevasse forming on the Emmons Glacier around 12,500'. The Kautz Glacier sports bare ice on both of the ice steps above Camp Hazard.

The extended weather forecast for this weekend is calling for a high pressure system to move in starting on Friday with sunny days over the weekend. Warm temperatures have also been producing natural, wet loose avalanches on many slopes--particularly those exposed to strong solar radiation. Beware of wet surface snow, deep boot penetration, exposure to large slopes, and cornices lurking above. Finally, expect to see other parties if you're climbing one of the more popular routes.

Emmons-Winthrop Glacier
Liberty Ridge, Carbon Glacier

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Kautz Glacier and Liberty Ridge In-Depth Route Guides

Based on the success of the two route guides that were published last year on the Disappointment Cleaver and Emmons-Winthrop Glacier routes, we decided to publish two additional documents this year.  The two routes we chose were the two next most popular routes; the Kautz Glacier and Liberty Ridge.

Each route guide is 20 to 30 pages in length.  Similarly organized, each document gives overall statistics, climbing history, recommended skills, a physical description of the approach, ascent, and descent, how to get current conditions, weather data and forecasting resources, ski mountaineering considerations, risk management strategies, resource protection, search and rescue statistics, as well as many other topics of discussion relative to each route.

Written by Mount Rainier climbing rangers, the text of each document is a holistic body of knowledge from nearly 1000 ascents of the 13 current rangers.  With the rough edges of opinions and approaches rounded out, the advice contained in the guides delivers the core elements of what you need to know.

There's something in these documents that you'll find interesting no matter what your skill level.  From historical use statistics to search and rescue data, you'll likely learn something you don't know.  The document contains weather forecasting recommendations and data, recommended additional reading, and lessons learned from search and rescue incidents.

Here are the direct links to each document on Mount Rainier's official webpage:
Enjoy the documents and have a great ascent!

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Mount Rainier Announces Projected Road Opening Dates 
Construction and snow delays reopening of Chinook and Cayuse passes
Mount Rainier National Park announces that sections of State Route 410 and State Route 123 between the Sunrise Road and the Stevens Canyon Road, to include Cayuse and Chinook passes, will experience a delayed opening as a result of spring snow conditions and a significant construction project. The expected opening of both SR 410 Chinook Pass and SR 123 Cayuse Pass is June 11.
Contractors will begin work on April 30 to repair a quarter mile of SR 410 near milepost 64 along the Mather Parkway in Mount Rainier National Park. For several years, motorists have experienced rough road surfaces at this location related to a slow moving and deep-seated landside.
Due to the extensive nature of the work to be completed during a short construction window and additional heavy snowfall this spring, SR 410 will remain closed just south of the junction with the Sunrise Road near White River, and SR 123 will also remain closed at the Stevens Canyon Road junction.
This road repair project was timed to have the least impact possible on the traveling public with the work beginning before the road typically reopens in the spring. Following the anticipated June 11 road reopening, project work will continue until late June. During that time travelers should expect short delays with alternating one-way traffic between mileposts 64 and 64.5.
“For generations, the Mather Parkway has provided access to scenic vistas and recreational opportunities within Mount Rainier National Park,” said Chip Jenkins, park Superintendent. “This important investment in our roadways will stabilize the road, preserve a historic roadway, and improve the safety for the travelling public.”
 Mount Rainier National Park is targeting May 11 to open the park’s southeast entrance near Packwood, providing access via SR 123 to the Grove of the Patriarchs area. Portable restrooms will be placed at the Grove parking area until the primary restrooms are opened for the season.
The northeast entrance to Mount Rainier National Park near Enumclaw is expected to open onMay 18, with access via SR 410 from the park entrance near Crystal Mountain Boulevard to the White River Campground parking lot. This will provide recreational opportunities in the White River area of the park in advance of the road to Sunrise opening for the summer. Conditions permitting, the road to Sunrise typically opens by the July 4th weekend.
Park information, announcements, and the Mount Rainier webcams are available on the park’s official website  Learn about the park by joining the Mount Rainier community on Facebook or on Tumblr; find out breaking news and road status updates through Mount Rainier's Twitter; explore the park and behind-the-scenes operations with our videos on YouTube; and share your own photos of Mount Rainier onInstagram @MountRainierNPS or in the Mount Rainier Flickr

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Climbing Information Center Opens 4/28!


The Climbing Information Center (CIC) is opening Saturday morning, the 28th of April at 08:00 am.  The ranger station will be open Saturday and Sunday until full-time operations begins Friday, May 25.  The opening hours will generally be 7:00 am to 4:00 pm, however this weekend (4/28), we will open at 8:00 am close at 3:00 pm each day.

Permits and Fees

To climb Mount Rainier, you must register and pay the annual climbing cost recovery fee.

When the station is open, you'll have to come inside to get a climbing permit.  When the station is closed (Mon-Fri until May 25), self-registration will be in effect in the foyer outside the main entrance to the CIC (inside the door in the picture above).

Although there are self-payment kiosks to pay the climbing fee inside the CIC, we recommend paying the fee online before you leave home for the park.  Pay it here:  The climbing fee, once paid, is good for multiple climbs in the calendar year in which you buy it.

Climbing and Route Information

Although the entire climbing ranger team is on duty, they are all in several weeks of training that include mountaineering, EMS, technical rope rescue, aviation, avalanche, skiing, wilderness, and other skills.  None of the rangers have climbed the mountain yet.  However they have flown around the mountain during aviation training and have taken some good pictures during clear weather.  Be sure and check out the pictures in the posts below.

In the upper right hand corner of this page are links to two documents called, "In Depth Route Briefs."  They are 20-30 page documents that should answer all your questions about climbing Mount Rainier.  Please download and read them and keep them on your device for reference.  We have also produced two more in the last few months concerning Liberty Ridge and the Kautz Glacier routes.  We'll post those here and blog it when we do.

Changing Names

As a minor side note, the name of this ranger station is changing to the Paradise Wilderness Information Center.  The change in names should be of little notice to you in the function that the station provides, however, the change is being made to make it more clear to other users in the park that more types of information can be obtained there than just climbing.

Good luck and we'll see you here!