Monday, September 30, 2013


The end of September is here and Paradise is receiving HEAVY snowfall! That news could either be very exciting or very depressing depending on your views of how early winter should arrive. To climbing rangers the snowfall means we have come full circle since the spring and it is time for most of us to leave until next season. It's been real. A few last thoughts...

Over winter most park facilities will be closed or operate on a very limited schedule BUT there are still lots of recreation opportunities for everyone. Check in at the main Mount Rainier web page for the latest on park operations before your visit!

The weather over the next six months or so will be mostly inhospitable on the upper slopes, but there will also be stretches of good weather that will allow for summit bids. Even in relatively good weather do not underestimate the intensity of a winter ascent on Rainier and plan ahead accordingly. Consult weather forecasts, avalanche forecasts and warnings, and be very sure of your mountaineering skills. If you do come up for a winter climb we still need you to register and get a permit. Since there are no ranger stations open full time during the winter the permit process requires self-registration at either the Paradise Old Station or the entrance arch on highway 410. This is important because it will help rangers immensely if for some reason you require outside assistance during your climb. Look at the conditions page on this blog for winter specific information on the places you want to visit or routes you want to climb.

The road from the Nisqually entrance to Paradise is the only road that will remain plowed during the winter months. All other park roads will be closed after the first major snows and remain closed until spring. The Paradise area receives huge amounts of snow each winter and the road up to it is the highest elevation road kept opened in the Cascades during winter. The parks plow operators work hard in a tough area. Please be aware that during big storms the road crews will need additional time to get the roads clear for travel. Check out the park page for specific information on road status and winter operations. All vehicles are required to carry chains during the winter.

While it is possible this blog will be updated during the winter it is guaranteed that updates will be few and far between. Climbing rangers do not work in winter, so don't get mad if we don't return your phone calls.

Finally, a Big Ups to everyone we ran into this summer out here enjoying this incredible park!

Friday, September 13, 2013

September Bliss

So things don't seem to be staying the same for very long around here these days. The new snow from last week is melting fast under the rays of sunshine and beach-like weather on the upper mountain. The DC is not only back "In" it is taking a very direct line (not just for September either) to the summit. Crowds are thinning but stoked climbers can still be found all around Rainier.

Keep an eye on the weather before you head up since it can be a bit fickle these days, but there are many reasons to take advantage of this mellow time of year all around Mount Rainier National Park.

We look forward to seeing you up here.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

The Seasons are changing, and so are the routes...

This past week has brought intense thunderstorms, new snowfall, and crisp fall air to Mt. Rainier. With these changes in the weather, we are also seeing changes on some of the routes. See the Disappointment Cleaver page for information on the latest developements there. The upcoming week looks like it holds beautiful weather, so come on up to Mount Rainier National Park and enjoy the stunning scenery, the wildflowers, and the melted out hiking trails before fall truly takes hold!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Heads Up

The weather over the next 24-36 could potentially bring heavy rainfall and new snow to the upper slopes of Rainier. Climbers should read the latest forecast from NOAA and the UW which can be found on our weather link page. This system should not last long but it is likely to produce periods of heavy precipitation with thunder storms through Friday morning. Climbers are urged to take caution.

Be advised that slopes on Rainier above 11,000' may receive significant accumulations of new snow especially on lee aspects. With the forecast for the weekend looking very good don't forget about recent weather and isolated avalanche activity that can hang around for a few days after a storm.

Stay Safe - Climbing Rangers

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Opportunities for Success!

So it is true that not many people have summited Mount rainier via the DC route in about a week or so. However it is not true that the route is "out" or "un-climbable". The main contributing factor to the lack of summits has been the weather and not the route. The route is definitely in late season condition and a very broken section of glacier has made the route more technical than it usually is but guide services have continued to work to improve this crux section and currently have ladders in place that allow passage.

Over the past couple of days climbers have made it above this crux section only to be turned around by winds and low visibility. Over the past few days there have been successful summit climbs via the Emmons and the Kautz, so there are still good routes that are being climbed on Rainier. We will continue to keep everyone hip to the latest changes in the routes.

Our view is that the routes are never "out". They only become more challenging and more testing of the abilities of the climbers attempting them. Fall is a great time out here and there is a lot of good climbing left. Just pay closer attention to the weather, bring your winter clothes and a can do attitude.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Self Registration open again

With the climbing season winding down, hours for the CIC will be changing.  As of labor day, 9/2/13 The Climbing Information Center will only be open on the weekends.  Climbing Rangers will be available to register you from 7am-3pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Plan on climbing the Emmons Glacier?  You MUST register at the White River WIC. Its open daily from 7:30am - 5pm.

If you are climbing mid week you will need to self register. The Self Registration Kiosk will be in the hallway Guide House as you enter the CIC. Please register here and then place your climbing fee of $44  in the fee canister at the Paradise Ranger Station ( A-Frame structure in the parking lot).

Have a Good Climb.