Sunday, May 28, 2017

Kautz Glacier (May 28th)

Upper Kautz looking very filled in

Ice pitches with hardly any ice

Fairly good access off the turtle and onto the Kautz

Success Cleaver (May 28th)

Success Cleaver from Pyramid to the convergence with the Kautz Cleaver

Lower Success

Upper Success traverse

Katuz Cleaver & Success Couloirs (May 28th)

Looking up the route from 11,400 ft.

Last week's lower freezing levels paired with the warming trend at the start of the weekend allowed climbing rangers and excellent opportunity to get out on the SW side of the mountain. The itinerary was to access the Kautz cleaver via Paradise by crossing the lower Nisqually, climbing the Wilson gully, and contouring west around 8,500 ft. all the way to the Kautz glacier. The lower Nisqually/Wilson gully are still well filled in and are easily navigated. The ridge line that leads up to "the castle" above the Wilson gully however, is starting to melt out and peel away. It was quite difficult to manage on skis and i would bet you will be forced to walk the ridge on rock after this warm spell.
Ridge line melting out and breaking up as cornice pulls away from the ridge.
Tricky navigation if you choose to stay on the snow.
Just below the castle, a quick contour to the eastern edge of the Kautz glacier lead us to a nice flat/protected snow camp at 9,100ft. This elevation currently allows for a very mellow crossing of the Kautz glacier over to the Kautz Cleaver. From camp, a 150ft. descending traverse will get you on the cleaver. From here, choose your own adventure up and climbers left as you pick your way up the cleaver and into the Success couloir. Once we were in the couloir, we hugged the climbers right ridge line to stay out of the fall line.
Route accross the Kautz glacier and up the couloir shown. 9,100 ft. camp shown as red square.

Warming temps and large mushrooms of upper mountain rime had us on the lookout for falling ice. French stepping and front pointing conditions were excellent in the early morning and 4,000 ft. later we found ourselves at the top of the Success couloir. From here, trend east and up through two rock bands to gain Point Success.

Track log from camp to 13,000 ft.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Liberty Ridge 5/27/2017

Thanks to IMG guide Justin Merle for the follow Liberty Ridge report!

"IMG Liberty Ridge climb May 22-26th: 

We climbed over the course of 5 days, Monday through Friday last week.

Approach: May 22-23.  We experienced generally deep sloppy isothermal snow with good warm temps and great weather (freezing level 13,000 ft) as we approached the base of the ridge.  Boot pen was ankle to knee deep over these two days (we spent our first night at St Elmo Pass).  We were certainly envious of our buddies who passed us on skis, but we were happy to not be carrying snowshoes later.  Easy travel up the Carbon took us to the base of the Ridge--only having cross over a few crevasses.  There are currently a couple good options for route selection to the base of the ridge and it seems like they will last awhile.  We camped at the base of the Ridge on the Carbon to wait out the high winds Tuesday night. 

* Photo: Justin Merle, IMG guide.  Blue showing the access taken by their team, yellow showing an alternate route they discussed.

Liberty Ridge: On Wednesday the 24th we started toward thumb rock around 10:30 am as the winds began to drop.  We gained the ridge easily a couple hundred feet up on the west side.  The freezing level was now at 4000ft and the west side of the ridge had good firm cramponing.  We transitioned to the east side of the ridge about halfway to Thumb Rock and found deeper generally secure wet snow.  Harder trail breaking but good secure travel.  Occasionally it was firm and less secure but still good cramponing.

Photo: Justin Merle, IMG guide, showing the approach to Liberty Ridge.

There was plenty of snow at Thumb Rock and easy digging, so we made a large platform for our three EV 2 tents and rested up for the big day Thursday.  We saw no rockfall  while at Thumb Rock (thanks cold temps!).

Upper Ridge:  May 25th. We left for our summit day in good cold and generally calm conditions at 3:45 am.  We climbed west out of Thumb rock and found great, bootable cold snow.  Hard work kicking steps made for secure steps for those behind the leader.  We transitioned back to the east side of the ridge a couple hundred feet below the top of the Black Pyramid.  There was firm, less secure snow and a little ice as we crossed the crest back to the east, where we again found softer snow and more secure travel.  The ice patch above the Black pyramid had grown as the high winds the day before scoured away a bunch of the snow that our friend had easily booted up on Tuesday. 

We tried to pass the ice on the left, but the snow cover became thin and we placed a couple screws and made a 50m pitch to cross back into secure snow.  From their we continued up into the basin below the 'shrund with great snow travel conditions.  We passed the 'shrund easily in the middle with 8' of 85 degree neve climbing.  Above the 'schrund we lost vis as a cap-cloud formed.  We made 3 more 50m pitches on good, moderately steep snow to get to easier glacier terrain below Liberty Cap by 11:30 am.  We navigated from Liberty cap to Columbia Crest with no vis in the icy cloud with light snow and descended the well-wanded DC/Ingraham direct route to Muir by 5pm."

Justin Merle

Memorial Day Weekend Update

Good Morning Climbers and Hikers

This holiday is shaping up to be a great one here at Mt. Rainier! Just a quick update for visitors heading up to the park over the weekend.

Park Openings:
Stevens Canyon Road is open for the summer

Box Canyon Road is open for the summer.

Steven's Canyon Entrance Station is now open.

White River Entrance Station is now open

White River Wilderness Information Center is now open daily 7:30-5:00

Longmire Wilderness Information Center is now open daily 7:30-5:00

The Ingraham Direct is still in. There is a large 8-10 crevasse crossing with a handline in place on the route. The guides are reporting that this section may go out any day or even on your way down from the summit. Take note of the DC route on your way up because it may be your way back down. Make sure you are bringing snow pickets vs. ice screws for anchors and running protection.

The latest forecast is still calling for good weather with high temperatures well above normal. Freezing levels are expected to be bouncing around 11,000 - 12,000 for the next three days.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend

Happy Memorial Day Everyone!

Here is what you need to know to make this upcoming weekend go off with out a hitch!

Question and Answers:
Before you call with questions check out the information on these Route Briefs for the two most popular routes on the mountain.  Disappointment Cleaver   Emmons-Winthrop  These route briefs are packed full of useful information and will most likely answer all of your questions. So grab a cup of coffee and your favorite chair and take the time to look these over.

The weather forecast is calling for a high pressure to move over the area starting tomorrow. It is expected to last through Memorial Day with freezing levels rising above 11,000 by Monday. Be sure to check the updated Mount Rainier Recreational Forecast before heading out for your climb.

Registration and Fees:
You can register for your climb at the climbing information center and any wilderness information center within the park the day of your climb or up to 24 hours ahead of time. For locations, hours and operation and phone numbers follow this Climbing Registration link.
The climbing fee and where you pay has changed this year. It is now online at  There will be no annual climbing passes issued so keep you receipt handy during registration to show that you have paid.

Current Conditions:
The Muir Web Cam is back on line!   Muir Web Cam
Independent climbers and guide services have been successful climbing the Ingraham Direct as of today. Based on the condition of the ID with additional crevasses opening up, the guide services have begun work on the Disappointment Cleaver. They are are expecting a route changeover to the DC any day now. The Emmons route is holding strong and is still very direct.