When I said it was going to be tough to climb Mt. Rainier again in 2006, it wasn't meant to deter any ambitious climbers. In fact, for those motivated enough, the summit is still available. It's just that you're going to have to start at a lower elevation and hike a lot further. The best access is probably at the Highway 410 closure near the Crystal Mountain turnoff. But if you were REALLY determined and wanted to say, climb Liberty Ridge, you could start at the Carbon River entrance. Either way, please make sure that you self register when you go. And if you'd like, write me for the latest gossip on road access.
As for public access to Paradise, it's still going to take a while based on the conservative estimates prepared by the federal highway engineers. The main obstacles are at mile makers 5.2 and 9.1. In both areas, the road is compromised by landslides, that will take two months (minimum) to stabilize and/or reroute around.
And the infamous Kautz Creek stream jump??? (Remember, the creek flows over the road) Superintendent Dave Uberuaga elected to have NPS crews raise the road bed and install more culverts. The other option kicked around involved a large bulldozer and over 1 mile of chainsaw work and cat tracks into the wilderness. That plan called for diverting the stream back into its original channel. A bulldozer partially explored this option early on, but a number of wilderness advocates expressed concern over the invasive procedure and it was put to rest. Regardless, the Kautz Creek recovery is closer to completion than the other repairs listed above.
And while we're discussing repairs, I was informed today that the park has spent over $691,000 on flood response and recovery, and the job is far from done! In Longmire, we're relying on generator power which means that our sewer system is still down... Though decisions and progress are being made, the road to full recovery is a ways off. I did hear one really reassuring comment from the Deputy Superintendent Randy King. He said "we intend to repair all the roads, all of the facilities, all of the trails damaged by this storm." In essence, the park is doing all that it can to be fully functional for next spring and summer.