As we push into late August the first signs of fall are starting to show themselves. Returning clouds, crisp days leading to cold nights, and fewer climbers are a familiar scene this time of year. We actually had some snowflakes fall on rangers the past couple of days, but the report from Muir today was of sunny skies, gentle breezes, and cool fall temperatures.
September is still a great month to climb, one of my favorites actually. Although the weather can be variable, it is still very pleasant for the most part. Climbing in September can also lead to a lot more solitude on a mountain where that is sometimes hard to find. Routes like the Emmons and the Kautz, which can be extremely busy during mid-summer, turn into full-on wilderness experiences in September. Something very notable about this year that is different from previous ones is that the routes still have a lot more snow on them than normally would be present in late August. This means instead of climbing glacial skeleton and having to wind around what may seem like endless fields of huge crevasses to reach the summit, climbers are treated to what can only be described as excellent climbing!
There are a few changes coming in the next couple of weeks of which climbers should be aware. One is that the ranger stations where you register to climb will no longer be open on their summer hours. After Labor Day the Longmire WIC, White River WIC and the Climbing Information Center will all still be open but on a more limited basis. Stay tuned for the exact hours,which we will be posting as we get confirmation on the schedules. Climbing rangers will be around throughout September, but on a more limited basis. So make sure to get your urgent questions answered by a ranger when you register.
Come on out and enjoy this next season change on Rainier. There is still a lot of climbing to be done, and watching the leaves change color from 14,000' is a pretty spectacular sight!