Over in the Seattle P.I., there was a discussion about fast and light climbing techniques... The P.I. also commented on what it's like in the park now that the roads are closed. When you read that article, consider this statement: "it will be April before there is a road to Paradise." But more importantly, everyone seems to have picked up on the News Tribune report that most of Mt. Rainier's road repairs will be funded. As promised, Congressman Norm Dicks pulled through rather quickly by locating funds from the Dept. of Transportation and the Dept. of the Interior. Keep in mind, this money will largely go to road and facility repairs, not necessarily trail systems!
Access to the mountain is still quite challenging, unless you really like hard approaches. For example, getting to the Westside Road is difficult because the Nisqually to Longmire road is only open to the public (sorry no vehicles) on Sundays from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. What this means is either you have to complete your trip in under 7 hours, or take 7 days! And with that said, the road above Longmire is totally closed to any sort of pedestrian traffic. Even if you made it to Longmire in under 7 hours, you still can't hike, climb, ski, board, walk, thumb, or skip along the road to Paradise.
If for some reason you'd like to attempt Liberty Ridge this winter, give your party at least one extra day (really two) to navigate the Carbon River Road and Wonderland trail up to Mystic Pass. There are a number of major washouts, destroyed sections of trail, and blow downs to manage. If you're trying to get to White River Campground (Emmons Route) via HWY 410 and the White River road, things are looking pretty normal for winter access. That is, plan for an additional 11 miles of road each way because the gate is locked at the park boundary. For more information about the roads and access in Mount Rainier National Park, check out Mount Rainier Access and Roads.
I gave a program on the flood and recovery efforts last Friday in Tacoma at the Mountaineers Clubhouse. There was a packed house of Mount Rainier enthusiasts. What a great audience! It's always encouraging to see so many people interested in what's happening in the park, so thank you for showing up and asking such good questions. If you live near Seattle, there will be another event this Friday, the 26th, at the Mountaineers Clubhouse, 300 3rd Ave. West.