Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Aerial Mount Rainier, Climbing Route Images

Moving the bear aside... This picture tells a long story. Here is Mount Rainier on May 30, 2006. I was able to capture a few climbing route images during a flight.

A series of recent storms dumped a lot of snow on the mountain. In some places, there were reports of 3 feet. There are rumors that more is expected later this week too. Winter is not over...

Today, however, climbers contended with blue bird skies and light breezes (and quite a bit of postholing.) The tracks indicated that a few made the summit too! Here, two climbers took on the arduous task of breaking trail up the Emmons Glacier... It didn't appear as if anyone else was on the route either. These climbers are at roughly 11,400 feet, exiting the top of the corridor to the left.

Parties were having a hard time making it to Camp Schurman until Sunday, so it's good to see a team getting up the route. This may mark the first successful ascent of the route in 2006.

And here is a nice image of the Ingraham Direct and Disappointment Cleaver routes. The green line traced the visible climbing route up the Disappointment Cleaver. Notice how directly it climbs the spin of the cleaver... Nice...

More images later, this week. All images by Mike Gauthier

Monday, May 29, 2006

Ursa Americanus at Ingraham Flats

On Saturday, we heard about a black bear near Cathedral Rocks... Today, the person who photographed that bear wrote.

More about the climbing bear from David Gutzman of UT.

"We were approaching Ingraham Flats when we heard some rock fall... we looked and saw what we thought was a large, odd shaped rock tumble down a hundred feet onto the glacier. To our surprise the rock got up , shook itself, took one look at us and took off..."
David shot a few images and shared them. Wildlife high on Rainier isn't entirely unheard of, but it's certainly a rare treat to encounter something like a bear at 11,100 feet.

David continued, "[The bear] ran full speed uphill (through deep snow) across the... Ingraham and looked like it was heading towards the Emmons Glacier, all the time glancing our way."

On the climbing front, the weather finally cleared some today... but more snow is forecasted for the week. Let's see if this snow will settle.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Bear on Mount Rainier, and lots of precipitation...

There has been a substantial amount of precipitation in the past 4 days. Some field reports indicate 2-3 feet of new snow on the upper mountain since last Thursday. As we know it, no one summited this wekeend. Climbers should be extremely cautious of increased avalanche activity. No route on Mount Rainier is entirely safe from avalanche, particularly after spring storms.

On Saturday, a bear was spotted high on the Ingrham Glacier. Unroped and without an ax... we are told that the bruin tumbled down Cathedral Gap! We hope to post an image soon...

For those interested in route conditions, we have made a change to the Updated Route Conditions page. Now, anyone can post comments about routes.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Memorial Weekend

It's a drippy start to summer. The forecast is less than thrilling for today and tomorrow (if you like to climb that is,) but we're optimistic that Sunday and Monday will be better.

As it stands now, there are two ranger patrols on the mountain. Camp Muir reported 17 inches of fresh snow; Camp Schurman 18! Bring your skis and snowboards!!!

As for Paradise...

Superintendent Dave Uberuaga said,
"I’m pleased to announce that the Paradise construction project was awarded today! This project consists of the rehabilitation of the Paradise Inn and the construction of a new visitor center in the upper parking lot.

Preliminary work on the $34 million project will begin next week. The Paradise Inn is scheduled to be completed in March of 2008. Work on the new Jackson Visitor Center will continue through the summer of 2008 with an anticipated opening in the fall. The current JVC will be demolished in 2009 after the opening of the new visitor center.

In two short years we will have a new visitor center that will last for 100 years and a rehabilitated National Historic Landmark building that will serve the visitors for at least another 90 years.

There will be no shortage of challenges for us during the project. Parking at Paradise will be reduced and alternative access to the Paradise Meadows trails will need to be identified. We are planning on providing a shuttle service for visitors and allowing them to park on the shoulders of the Valley Road."
As it stands now, climbers departing from Paradise should register at the Jackson Visitor Center.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Mount Rainier Facility and Road Openings

Mount Rainier Ranger stations and visitor center hours

The Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise, the White River Ranger Station and the Longmire Museum are open daily for permits and information, more here... Self registration at these locations has ended!

Mount Rainier Road Openings

The Stevens Canyon Road, Highway 410 over Chinook Pass, and the road to White River Campground opened today. See the access and roads section for more information.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Contributing Route Reports, Photos, and other Mt Rainier Information

A number of you have taken the time to send reports, stories and advice. From all accounts, that information is well appreciated. This site works best when readers, like yourself, send us your thoughts and become contributors (we also like to call you "climbing instigators.") If you've recently been on the mountain, let us know what you found...

To help manage the information, we've begun a contributors page. Like other functions on this site, it's sure to grow.


Major construction is planned in Paradise area this summer and next. The Paradise Inn will be closed this summer AND next for a remodel... Similiarly, a majority of the upper parking lot will closed as the NPS constructs a new visitor center (due to be completed in the fall of 2008.)

Climbers should expect changes and conjestion... More than likely, overnight parking will limited to the Paradise picnic area (i.e. arrive early) and normal access and hours to some buildings will be adjusted.

YES, "Paradise" is still open, but there will be unique challenges before you even hit the trail. We'll post the latest updates on access, parking and other restrictions, along w/maps and more information.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Mount Rainier Conditions

We, and yes there are a few others now helping behind the scenes, are working to improve the moutain conditions reports. Under ON "THE MOUNTAIN", you'll notice more hot links to specific reports. They link to "old posts," but the information will be as current as we have. Often, we'll post the date on top of the post. Check back as we develop this section.

More information on the Westside Road.

As always, we like your reports! Please send us your images and thoughts on recent trips. If you'd like credit or a link, we're happy to do so!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Mount Rainier Photos and a new blog...

As you can see, the DC is looking good. I've started another "blog" to place images... Look for more there.

I've been fortunate enough to have contributors. If you've images, condition reports, or stories to share, we'd love to get them. Send me a note! I welcome comments, suggestions, and input.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Photos... and the heat wave

We had some aviation training today and along the way, I was able to snap a few images.

Here is a north side picture of Liberty and Ptarmigan Ridges. It has been a really hot week on the mountain, and the snow is melting quite rapidly...

I'll post more photos later today (when I can get some time to process them.)
Photo by Mike Gauthier

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Updated Route Conditions for Mount Rainier

Lots of climbing reports. Here's a scary image of Rainier's north face... A serac falls off the Liberty Cap Glacier down the Liberty Wall.

It was a very warm this weekend. Thankfully, most climbers had a great time and there were no accidents... Reports to follow soon (i.e. TONIGHT.)

Image by David Gottlieb

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mid May round up

It's been a very busy few weeks. The wilderness office finally burned through the reservations and sent out the confirmation letters to climbers... I know many of you waited a long time for this; they hope to improve this process next year.

We wanted to fly around the mountain on Wednesday, unfortunately there was a minor issue w/ the helicopter. Our small team loaded into the Chinook and watched as the rotors started to twirl... Then they stopped... Then we found out that one of the engines would not start. Yes, there are two engines, however we were pleased to spend the rest of the day doing other tasks as the mechanics figured things out. Perhaps next week.

There are two patrols on the mountain this weekend. The weather looks pretty much PERFECT for the next five days. Teams have been successfully climbing Liberty Ridge, the Ingraham Direct, and I even heard a rumor that the DC is now in... Some skiers took off for the Kautz too, more on Tuesday.

I suspect w/ the return of the climbing rangers next week, there will be more opportunities for updates. As some of you noticed, we have a new contributor, Joe Puryear. He will also help with posts on this site. We are VERY open to other contributors! If you're interested in sharing your thoughts on this blog, we'd love to hear from you. Send me a note, your posts can be anonymous, or by name/avatar. We look to share Rainier information, advice and stories. Thanks for checking in.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Snowy weekend...

Numerous climbers spent the weekend on the mountain. The deteriorating weather on Saturday and Sunday prevented most from summiting.

Reports from Camp Muir and more on the projected road openings later today.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Impossible Drop; Surviving a 3,000 foot fall after an avalanche, Gabe Coler

I met Gabe's parent's last weekend in Minneapolis. At the time of the climbing accident on Mount Deltaform, they were in Poland. Through a number of bureaucratic nightmares, Gabe’s parents did not get a chance to see their son for 10 days!

The information about Gabe was positive considering the fact that he was carried over 3,000 feet in an avalanche down the side of a major Canadian mountain! After the slide, Gabe fortuitously was not buried, but did end up spending three days and nights alone (at times in sub-freezing weather) on top of the debris.

Gabe is on the recovery schedule, but it’s going to be tough. He lost a fair amount of weight and was severely injured. Gabe fractured his right femur and tore numerous ligaments and tendons in his left knee. The femur fracture will mend, but the torn muscles, ligaments, tendons AND bone will be much more problematic. Included in the injury was a partially collapsed lung. As his father best said,

“All of this [however] seems so trivial compared to the wound he sustained from
losing his best friend, Charlie. I am far less certain of that injury ever
Gabe was medi-evacuated to Eugene Oregon for extended treatment. If you’d like to send Gabe your thoughts, his address is:

St. Charles Medical Center
2500 NE Neff Road
Bend, OR 97701

I’d like to acknowledge and thank the Canadian Park Wardens, medics, doctors, nurses and other caregivers that have responded to this incident and cared for Gabe and Charlie. This image is courtesy Parks Canada, Brad White.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Reservations and Roads

Some news on the reservation front! All of the climbing reservations have been processed. A new batch of confirmation letters is being sent out daily with climbing cards. Virtually every permit was approved. If you didn't get your reservation, feel free to call the climbing rangers at Paradise. We have suggestions on ways to enhance your chances of getting a "walk up permit."


Lately, the weather has been warm and dry. Because of this, the rangers habe been leaving the road to Paradise open throughout the night. Note however, that this is only done during periods of good weather.

The Westside Road opened on May 1 to Dry Creek.

It looks as though HWY 123 is definitely going to be closed for part of the summer.


A number of teams summited this past weekend. More about the route conditions soon.