Sunday, September 17, 2017

Climbing Information Center (CIC) - Closed for the season

The Climbing Information Center closed for the season on September 10, 2017.

Climbing Information
You can continue looking at this blog for the latest climbing information.

To register for your climb at Paradise, please go to the self-registration kiosk at the Paradise Old Station, the small A-frame building at the upper Paradise Parking Lot.

Climbing Cost Recovery Fee
Please pay your climbing fee on line at home before you come to the park!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

DC Conditions and the End of Summer

Winter conditions have returned to Mount Rainier without much of a Fall transition. There has been snow as low as Paradise in the last 24 hours and the National Weather Service has issued the first winter storm watch for the season.


.TODAY...Showers. Snow accumulation at Paradise near 3 inches. 
Snow level near 5500 feet. 
.MONDAY NIGHT...Showers. Snow accumulation at Paradise near 9
inches. Snow level near 5500 feet. 
.TUESDAY...Showers. Snow accumulation at Paradise near 8 inches. 
Snow level near 5000 feet. 
.TUESDAY NIGHT...Rain or snow. Snow accumulation at Paradise near
5 inches. Snow level near 5500 feet.
.WEDNESDAY...Showers. Snow accumulation at Paradise near 4 inches.
Snow level near 5000 feet.
A snow level near 5000 feet is typical for Winter here in the Cascades. BRRRRRR.
The guided climbs from Sunday didn't even leave Camp Muir to attempt a summit bid due to the stormy conditions. The route requires a large degree of independence and technical proficiency as well and would be very difficult to navigate in white-out conditions. We strongly discourage climbing it in a storm. Above the Cleaver there is several hundred vertical feet of heavily crevassed terrain. The guides have been sending teams up to repair and reroute the path through this area every day for the past several weeks. There have been large collapses with climbers on route and parties without sufficient skill have become stranded on the mountain for short periods of time.
Climbing teams navigating a heavily crevassed area.
There are a few more storms in the forecast before things dry out again. For this reason and the complexity of the route we would advise against attempting a summit bid in the next few days. Consider changing your objective to focus on learning skills instead of going to the summit or even let the winter pass and climb when conditions are more favorable in the Spring. Remember that even a trip to Camp Muir can be extremely hazardous in low visibility.

Friday, September 15, 2017

In Depth Route Descriptions

Hey, everyone!

We wanted to take a moment and orient everyone to two documents we worked on this winter.  These two 20-30 page documents detail what we want you to know about climbing the Disappointment Cleaver and the Emmons-Winthrop Glacier.

Each route guide contains details on:

  • Route History
  • Route Use and Statistics
  • Case Studies in Rescues
  • SAR Occurrences and Statistics
  • Weather Statistics, Forecasting and Resources
  • Guiding
  • Assessing and Managing Risk
  • How to Train
  • What to Bring
  • Search and Rescue Program
  • Explanation of Climbing Fees
  • Leave No Trace and Wilderness Protection
  • Navigation & Bearing Sheet
  • Permitting and Reservations
  • Ski Mountaineering
  • PreClimb Briefing
  • Physical Route Descriptions
  • Checking Out
  • Further Reading

Please use these route briefs.  They are in PDF format and meant to be used digitally.  However, there are useful pieces here and there to print.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Climbing Rangers End of Season

The Climbing Ranger's six month season is about to come to a close. We started our season in mid-March and other than a few maintenance folks and full time rangers the majority of the crew is done working until next season. Climber numbers typically drop to near zero by mid-October as well since winter like conditions typically return to the upper mountain by late September.

The permanent rangers will start preparing for next season almost immediately. Part of that process is analyzing the current summer and preparing an annual report. An archive of previous years can be found here.

Average Climber Numbers on Mt Rainier drop to near zero by the end of September.

Our record low precipitation this summer seems to be nearing an end as well. There are a series of storms forecast to begin hitting the Cascades starting early Sunday and continuing through next week. The storms look like they will be fairly cold as with snow levels dropping to near 5000 feet. That's down right cold!

This is great news for the firefighters working near the Park boundary on the Norse Peak and American River fires.

The UW WRF model showing significant precipitation for the Cascades over the weekend.

The guide services are shifting to their late season schedules and will be wrapping up all operations by the beginning of October. They have been doing work on the ladders above the Cleaver daily trying to keep the route viable, but climbing conditions have been very difficult as of late. Last weekend a party was stranded for a short time at 12,800' when a portion of the trail was wiped out by ice fall. The team was not prepared for a technical descent nor were they equipped to navigate to an alternate descent route.

It is tempting to view the DC as a benign route since it is maintained extremely well by the guides but do not underestimate the skill required to climb the mountain when the guides' route is not available to you. Climbing on Rainier in late September should be considered a highly independent endeavor.  For most of the people who are interested in climbing the Disappointment Cleaver this time of year, we recommend one of the guide services.

White River Entrance Open Again

The recent fire activity has cooled down with the latest front that passed through and the road to Sunrise and White River Campground has reopened.  Campers and hikers can now access camps and trails on the east side of the park.  See the park's alerts and news release website for the most up to date info. 

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Conditions Update

The White River Entrance to the park is currently closed due to nearby forest fire activity.  Here's a link to the park's website with details on the closure.  The closure may be lifted with cooling temperatures and the chance of rain this weekend, but it may remained closed if fire behavior stays high.  The park's website has an Alerts and Conditions page that has the most up-to-date info.  

This means climbers should expect to register and climb through Paradise this weekend.  Check the previous posts for current conditions on the Disappointment Cleaver and Kautz Glacier.  Even with the added difficulty of late-season conditions, both of those routes have been climbed in the last week.  Be prepared to breathe some smoke and carry extra water for the unseasonably high temperatures.  The Emmons/Winthrop Glacier Route has not been climbed in over a week due to crevasses spanning the entire glacier mass.

The Climbing Information Center will be open this weekend, but it's the last two days of the season that it will be staffed.  After this weekend, climbers will be able to self-register at the Paradise Old Station.  Have a safe and hopefully non-smoky weekend!