Thursday, May 22, 2014

Memorial Day

Thanks to all the Military folks out there for your service. We couldn't do our job effectively without the support of the 214th GSAB out of Joint Base Lewis McChord. Their SAR Chinooks and crews have been giving us unparalleled support for many years. Big Thanks.

Keep an eye on road openings and closures, especially on the east side of the park.  Downed trees, stormy weather, and lingering snowpack have impacted some of the opening dates.  Both Chinook and Cayuse Passes are open (awesome!).  The road to White River Campground is still closed for this holiday weekend, but cars are allowed to park at the White River Ranger Station.  Climbers can approach climbs starting there for the holiday weekend (adds four miles to the approach).  Check out the Park Access link above and click the links on the right hand side for the most up-to-date info.

Hope everyone will have a fun and safe holiday weekend!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Full Swing!

It's been a great week at Mount Rainier! The climbing and skiing have been excellent, lots of people have been getting to the summit, and we rangers have wrapped up our annual early season training so we've begun staffing the upper mountain more regularly.

Right now is a prime time to climb some of the less-traveled routes on the mountain as well as the standards. The snowpack is deep and coverage is great all over the mountain so many of the more difficult and committing routes are in excellent shape. There have been parties on the Tahoma Glacier, Liberty Ridge, and all over the south side of the mountain. We will be adding information about more routes as we get access to them and hear reports from you folks. We want to hear from you about your climb particularly if you have been on any of the aforementioned non-standard routes.

As always, pay attention to the weather forecasts. We still get some pretty strong spring storms this time of year, but the sunny periods in between offer excellent climbing conditions and fantastic views of the alpine surroundings. Access to more remote areas will usually require skis, snowshoes or determined post-holing, come prepared.

The Climbing Information Center in Paradise is open daily from 6:00 am - 3:00 pm Sunday to Thursday and 6:00 am - 5:00 pm Friday and Saturday. Stop in for route and weather updates, and to register in person with a friendly ranger.

Climbers leaving from the western side (Paradise, Longmire) of the park are required to register in person during business hours. Climbers leaving from Carbon or White River may still self register as those ranger stations have not opened for the season yet. These ranger stations should be opening prior to Memorial Day weekend so please check our Park Access page for current road conditions and opening dates.

Since there is a holiday weekend coming up make plans for getting to ranger stations early, especially if your destination is Camp Muir or Camp Schurman. Although these camps can hold a lot of people they do sometimes fill to capacity. It is smart to have an alternate plan or at least have the ability to be flexible if your primary itinerary doesn't work out.

We look forward to seeing you on the mountain!

Friday, May 16, 2014

It's N.A.A.P.I.H.M.

Big Smile. Clean Desk
As some of you probably know May is officially National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Us, the Climbing Rangers, would like to give a huge "Big Ups" to Armando, who is a real live Pacific Islander and a vital part of our program here at Mt. Rainier. Armando is a guy you most likely won't see on the mountain (although we keep trying) but he keeps the climbing ranger and SAR program running smooth with his mastery of all things Park Service. He has the incredible ability of procuring the latest and greatest gear, hiring the best instructors to come and give us excellent trainings, and at the same time dealing with the ineptitude of climbing ranger paperwork skills. Props to Armando for holding it down!

Camp Schurman in August
Here on Rainier for the past few days it has really felt like a tropical Pacific paradise. The sun has been out and temperatures have been hot! We haven't seen any grass skirts being worn on the snowfield even though conditions have been warm enough for beachwear.  Rangers will be up at Muir this weekend and surely loving the spring climbing and skiing on this volcano, but also keenly aware that there is no sandy beach nearby.

When temps cool down a bit and the snow stabilizes, climbing conditions should be excellent. Roads and ranger stations will be opening over the next couple of weeks throughout the park and access to the alpine will be getting easier. The Climbing Information Center (CIC or "kick") opens this weekend which means you can come in, talk conditions and recent activity with a ranger and get registered all in one convenient location.  Stay safe in the sun and get your 'Pacific Island" on!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's Very Warm. Heads Up.

Ingraham Glacier & Disappointment Cleaver 
The Northwest is going to get a blast of summertime over the next few days. Temperatures are going to be hot. Seattle will be in the 80's and freezing levels in the mountains are going to be hovering around 12,000' until the weekend. The Northwest Avalanche Center has issued a special advisory through Thursday for our area. Please read this before venturing into the backcountry in the coming days. Many wet loose avalanches have been observed on steep slopes around Rainier along with a few moderate sized slabs. Avalanches can be seen  high on the Kautz above the ice chute and most likely are occurring in other high elevation spots around Rainier. A recent pit profile from the Ingraham can be found on our weather and snow page.

The next few days are going to be beautiful and great for getting outside but be wise. Climb early before the sun is up and be back in camp before the heat of the day takes real effect. Travel in all snow covered areas during the daytime will be strenuous. Skis or snowshoes will be necessary if you plan to make any progress. The snow surface should be refreezing fairly well overnight making late night and early morning travel much more pleasant. PLUS it's pretty much a full moon these days and with all the new snow the mountain will be lit up at night by moonbeams.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Climbing Information Center Opening This Weekend

Anyone planning to climb should come by for their permits, passes and the latest information. The CIC is now open seven days a week for the remainder of the 2014 season.

Starting Friday May 16 ALL climbers leaving from PARADISE will be required to register in person during business hours. Climbing registration is available at any ranger station, hours vary. Self registration will be closed until the fall. Climbers leaving from WHITE RIVER OR CARBON will still be able to self register.

There is a new update about the road construction on our Park Access page. It's a good and informative write up if you are curious at all about this monstrous project. Expect 20-30 min delays getting to Longmire.

Rangers made it up to Muir during the recent 24 hours of clear skies and were able to dig a snow pit and do a profile that can be found on our Weather and Snow page. Conditions on the snowfield were excellent if you had skis, maybe a bit more work if you didn't. Whenever this storm stops there should be some great climbing and skiing conditions available.

Friday, May 02, 2014


So it's the beginning of a new month and here in the Park we are gearing up for the coming of the summer busy season. The past few days have brought a taste of summer sun if nothing else. Blue skies and warm temps dominated making some people very happy (if they remembered sunscreen). The forecast is calling for increasing clouds and snow over the next few days so come prepared.

Check out new updates on the Muir Snowfield, Disappointment Cleaver and Ingraham Direct routes. Remember that the Nisqually Road in currently under construction so expect delays up to 30 minutes. The work is only happening Monday - Friday so this project should not affect weekend visitors as much. We recommend checking road conditions before you come up since snow delays and closures remain a reality.

Have fun, stay safe.