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!