Thursday, May 25, 2017

In Depth Route Descriptions

Hey, everyone!

We wanted to take a moment and orient everyone to two documents we worked on this winter.  These two 20-30 page documents detail what we want you to know about climbing the Disappointment Cleaver and the Emmons-Winthrop Glacier.

Each route guide contains details on:

  • Route History
  • Route Use and Statistics
  • Case Studies in Rescues
  • SAR Occurrences and Statistics
  • Weather Statistics, Forecasting and Resources
  • Guiding
  • Assessing and Managing Risk
  • How to Train
  • What to Bring
  • Search and Rescue Program
  • Explanation of Climbing Fees
  • Leave No Trace and Wilderness Protection
  • Navigation & Bearing Sheet
  • Permitting and Reservations
  • Ski Mountaineering
  • PreClimb Briefing
  • Physical Route Descriptions
  • Checking Out
  • Further Reading

Please use these route briefs.  They are in PDF format and meant to be used digitally.  However, there are useful pieces here and there to print.

Please enjoy!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Gibraltar Ledges 5/23/2017

On Monday May 22nd climbing rangers Kurt Hicks and Joseph Anderson climbed the Gibraltar (Gib) Ledges route on Mt Rainier. 

* Photo Kurt Hicks and Joe Anderson beginning the traverse through the Gibraltar Ledges.

The climb begins by ascending the striking ridge line (Cowlitz Cleaver) immediately to the northwest of Camp Muir.  The route climbs moderate to steep snow slopes and meanders around scenic rocky gendarmes for 1,600 feet until it intercepts with the namesake Gibraltar Rock. 

From 11,800 feet the route follows exposed snow and rock "ledges" that traverse the well defined base of Gib Rock.  This portion of the climb is south west facing (shade until 10am) and is exposed to rock fall hazard from above while the terrain remains moderately steep and exposed.  The ledges traverse for a third of a mile and intercept with the top of Gibraltar Chute at 12,300 feet.  From here the route climbs 400 feet up 45 degree snow until the top of Gibraltar Rock. 

From this point you are looking down the other side at the upper Ingraham Glacier and the top of Disappointment Cleaver.  There are several large crevasses separating the route from the glacier below.  To avoid this hazard climb toward the summit on the upper Ingraham glacier for another 1,200 feet elevation. From here the route will intercept with the current track of the more popular DC route at approximately 13,800 feet.

We found the route to be in good, mostly snowy conditions along the Ledges. Protection is plentiful, with solid pickets and occasional ice screws available. Try to move quickly across the ledges to reduce exposure to spontaneous rockfall.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Kautz Glacier (May 22, 2017)

Kautz glacier is still looking very filled in with minimal exposed ice.
Kautz glacier ice pitches

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Disappointment Cleaver 5/20/2017

Here are some of the latest pictures and a track of the most recent path to the summit just received from the rangers, Sam Siemens-Luthy, Joseph Anderson, and Kurt Hicks at Camp Muir.

The route is still going up Ingraham Direct.  Enjoy it while you can!



Emmons-Winthrop 5/17/2017

The White River Road is now open to the campground and climbers are beginning to make forays on the upper Emmons and Winthrop glaciers. As of yet it doesn't appear that anyone other than rangers has made it to the summit by this route.
* Photo: Climbing rangers Seth Waterfall, Kathryn Vollinger, and Tim Hardin ascend the Emmons Winthrop Glacier route on 5/20/2017
We have had two ranger patrols climb the route. The first team summitted 5/14 and the most recent was today 5/20.
The current route is the classic Emmons and follows the basic descriptions in most guide books and the Emmons Winthrop Route Brief published by the climbing rangers.
The climbing is very straight forward from Camp Schurman to the top of the Corridor and today's surface conditions were firm Neve. From the top of the Corridor to 13,500' we were breaking trail in calf to thigh deep, wind deposited snow. There are some large crevasses in this area that must be end run as well. From 13,500' to the crater rim we encountered firm snow and large sastrugi but we were able to climb directly up and over the bergschrund without any shenanigans what so ever.
* Photo: Climbing Rangerr Tim Hardin contemplates the Emmons-Winthrop route from the roof of the ranger station at Camp Schurman.
On our descent we had to re-break the trail from 13,500' back soon to 11,600' as the wind had filled it all back in. I expect tomorrow we will have to break the trail in for a third time since we're experiencing a cold North wind currently.
* Map: Google Earth representation of the tracklog of the route taken by the rangers from Camp Schurman to the summit today (5/20/2017).  Download the Google Earth KML file.

A note for skiers, the wind has kept things cool and insulated from any freeze/thaw cycles above 11000'. It has been pretty winter-like here very recently and the upper mountain has yet to experience a big warm up here in the East side.

Avalanche Special Advisory

Posted on the NWAC page:

Avalanche Special Advisory
Issued: Thu, May 18, 2017 at 4:07 PM PST
Expires: Mon, May 22, 2017 at 6:00 PM PST

Snowpack Analysis:

Say goodbye to winter and hello to warmer weather and a spring avalanche cycle.

Recent Weather

A strong front, and then an upper low pressure system and cold unstable air mass crossed the Northwest on Monday night and Tuesday. The strongest winds and thunderstorms, and heaviest snow were generally in the south Cascades especially Mt Hood.

Snow for the 2 days ending Wednesday morning was about 4-6 inches at Hurricane, 6-24 inches along the west slopes of the Washington Cascades with the most on the volcanoes and generally above the pass levels, 20-30 inches at Mt Hood, and 5-10 inches along the Cascade east slopes at higher elevations. This is a lot of snow for this time of year!

Recent Avalanche Observations

As of Thursday there isn't much for observations, here is what we've got.
Communications to the base weather station are out at Mt Baker due to lightning on May 4th. But the ski area crew there reported about 15 in of storm snow there on Tuesday with limited visibility but with natural loose wet avalanches seen in the vicinity of the base of the area.

Via the NWAC Observations page, backcountry skiers at Washington Pass on Tuesday reported 5-8 inches of storm snow that was not well bonded to the previous frozen sun affected snow. On south slopes they triggered several storm slab avalanches that gave debris piles 4 feet deep x 150 feet wide.
The WSDOT crew at Chinook Pass on Wednesday reported that skis and explosives triggered 6-12 inches loose wet and storm slab avalanches on specific solar slopes that were large relative to the paths.

NWAC observer Laura Green took a lower elevation trip up to 5800 feet on Mt Hood on Tuesday. Stormy weather with strong winds, graupel and thunder made for an exciting tour. She found about 12 inches of storm snow without signs of instability on lower angle NE to SE slopes in trees on her below treeline tour.

Detailed Forecast for Friday:

Weather Forecast

The weather has finally shifted from the recent winter-like pattern to an overall sunnier warmer weather pattern. An upper ridge will gradually build over the US coastal waters through the weekend and early next week.

Mostly sunny weather with gradually warmer temperatures should be seen Friday. Freezing levels should rise to the 7-9000 foot range from the north to the south Cascades Friday.

A weak system should move over the building ridge and over the Northwest on Friday night and Saturday morning. This should cause a push of clouds into the western Washington lowlands and along the west slopes of the north to central Cascades. Some light showers are indicated in convergence mainly between Puget Sound and the central Cascades Friday night and Saturday morning. But sunnier weather is likely by Saturday afternoon. Freezing levels should rise to the 8,000-11,000 foot range from the north to the south Cascades Saturday.

Sunny weather and stronger warming should be seen on Sunday and early next week. Freezing levels should rise to the 11,000-12,000 foot range from the north to the south Cascades Sunday and even higher early next week.

Avalanche Forecast and Travel Advice

There will be competing factors of stabilizing and warming this weekend and early next week. But due to the recent snow and lack of warm weather so far this spring we expect a cycle of loose wet snow avalanches.

Loose wet snow avalanches may occur sooner on more direct solar slopes and later on less direct, non-solar slopes this weekend and early next week. These avalanches should be most likely during the warmer, sunny daytime hours. Large or very large loose wet snow avalanches are likely on the volcanoes where there has been the most recent snow. But remember that even small, loose wet snow avalanches are powerful and dangerous.

Watch for the lack of an overnight refreeze of surface snow, wet snow deeper than boot top and initial pinwheels and initial small loose wet snow avalanches that indicate an increasing loose wet avalanche danger. It is always a good plan to be away from avalanche terrain by the warmest midday and afternoon hours. Careful snowpack evaluation and cautious routefinding will be essential this weekend this weekend and early next week.

Many people are likely to be out this weekend due to the good snow cover and the delay of good weather this spring. Don't head out expecting normal spring conditions and passively follow others and forget to evaluate conditions for yourself. Avoid situations where an avalanche can be triggered onto you by others from above. This has been the cause of fatal accidents in the Northwest in past seasons.

Other Types of Avalanche Problems:

Nearby glide cracks and extensive loose wet avalanches can indicate that wet slab avalanches are possible.

Wind slab may still be possible on previous lee slopes at higher elevations.

Cornices should be starting to melt back but may remain unstable during prolonged warmer weather. Avoid potential cornices which can break well back from the edge along ridges and avoid traveling in areas underneath cornices on ridges above. See our blog post about cornices here.

Don't linger and move one a time if you decide to travel under rock slabs holding snow where sudden glide avalanches can release.

NWAC forecasts and statements do not apply to where conditions are likely to be more dangerous above the crest level on the volcanoes.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Helicopter Search and Rescue - Short Haul

Since 2012, Mount Rainier National Park has adopted shorthaul as its aviation rescue method.

* Photo: NPS Ranger, Van Roberts, 1000 above ground, on the end of the shorthaul rope with a patient in the "Baumann Bag"

Shorthaul is a particular method of helicopter rescue where a single rope, typically 100-300 feet, is suspended beneath the helicopter.  A rescuer clips in to a ring on the end of the rope.  The rescuer is lifted and transported to the rescue scene.  An injured subject can be transported with this method, along with the rescuer, by employing a few different adjuncts such as a 'Screamer Suit' in a sitting position or in a "Baumann Bag" in a horizontal position.

This method of rescue obviates the complexities of hoist, where the patient and/or rescuer is lifted up to the helicopter and transported inside.  Shorthaul also has a national, inter-agency working team that has developed standards for managing program components such as pilot qualification, rescuer qualification, communication standards, and risk assessment protocols.

* Photo: Climbing Ranger Stefan Lofgren transports a patient injured in a skiing accident from Lane Peak near Paradise.

The park has an exclusive use contract with Helicopter Express.  Our helicopter is a Eurocopter Astar A350B3.  It is a high performance helicopter able to perform at the high elevations required by our mountain.

To make the use of this helicopter cost-effective, the helicopter and its crew are a regional resource.  It is commonly used on wildland fires, search and rescue missions, and project flights such as to supply remote stations or transport crew for science missions.  This helps defray the costs.  Even though the helicopter may be out on a fire or on a project, the helicopter's priority is search and rescue.  This means that when the rescue occurs, it will take a moment before the helicopter gets the call, lands, reconfigures, and flies back to the park.

* Photo: Climbing rangers practice a tandom pickoff from a training area near Ashford.

The timeline for a rescue is more lengthy than if the helicopter was just sitting there at Mount Rainier's helibase waiting for a SAR.  However, we have found that it is yet faster than our previous method of calling various helicopter companies to see if they have a helicopter and pilot available.  Thus our response times have improved.

In 2016, climbing rangers are the primary (but not the only) performers of shorthaul rescue at Mount Rainier.  Climbing rangers are in various stages (over a couple of years) of completing training in these courses that are related to performing rescue on the high parts of Mount Rainier:
  • S-130 / S-190 Basic Wildland Fire Behavior and Suppression (~40 hours)
  • Incident Command System (I-100 /  I-200 / I-300 / IS-700)
  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT ~100 hours))
  • Technical rope rescue ( ~ 80 hours)
  • Basic Avation Safety and Helicopter Crewmember (50 hours + 1 year trainee)
  • AMGA Alpine Skills course (~40 hours)
  • AMGA Alpine Guide course (~100 hours)
  • AMGA Ski Guide course (~100 hours)
  • US Level II-III (or professional) Avalanche (40 hours)
  • Short-Haul training (~40 hours)
  • STEP (Hover and One-Skid Landing) training (8-16 hours)
* Photo: A climbing ranger brings in the shorthaul rope at the staging area during a training exercise near the Tahoma Glacier.

The rangers have finished their spring training and are being deployed this week out to high camps and ranger stations.

It is important to remember that although this is a great tool, it will never be the only tool.  Weather, terrain, conditions, complexity, team selection, and other factors weigh heavily into using this method of helicopter rescue.

It is also important to point out that it takes a rather large team of people to make this happen.  The pilot, helicopter and aviation staff, rangers, mechanics, and support crews all play an important role in effecting rescues.  A big shout out to the hard work everyone puts into this.

Hello Disappointment Cleaver!

Greetings from a sunny Camp Muir!

After a winter storm last week, we are seeing warming temperatures and clearer skies on the mountain today. Heavy snowfall--in excess of two feet--kept teams from summitting for most of the last week. Parties have reported knee-deep trailbreaking above Ingraham Flats today, but that the route remains well-wanded and in decent early season conditions. There is still a tremendous amount of snow on the ground, with no exposed rocks on the route at this time.

From Ingraham Flats, the route ascends the Ingraham Glacier Direct directly before traversing right to the top of Disappointment Cleaver around 12,200'. There is one ladder in this section and some fixed pickets. Evaluate this equipment before using it for your climbing team.

Above the Cleaver, the route does a rising traverse towards the Emmons Shoulder and then traverses back west around 13,000'. There is some overhead serac hazard in this section and it is not an ideal place to take breaks.

The last thousand feet to the crater rim is sporting numerous thinly bridges crevasses and multiple parties have reported poking into holes here. Just because the surface snow looks smooth does not mean that there isn't crevasse hazard. Keep appropriate rope spacing throughout this section.

With warming temperatures on the way, it is expected that the route will change rapidly. Be aware of changing conditions and leave high camp early to beat the heat and softening snow conditions.

White River Road open to campground

The road is open to the trailhead. Overnight parking in the climbers parking lot is permitted.  The campground however is not open yet. Self permitting is in effect at the White River Ranger Station until Friday May 26 when the ranger station will open.  After that registration is only permitted 7:30AM-5:00 PM at the White River RS.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Special Weather Statement - National Weather Service

Updated just this morning:


The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for snow, which is in effect from 6 PM this evening to 5 PM PDT Tuesday.


Up to 6 inches tonight with another 4 to 6


Around 4500 feet tonight lowering to 3500 feet on Tuesday.
  • Stevens Pass
  • White Pass
  • The road to Paradise on Mount Rainier. Back country above 4500 feet from Stevens Pass southward.
The heaviest snow is expected tonight with snow showers continuing through Tuesday.
Travel may be difficult across the higher passes like Stevens Pass and White Pass and the road to Paradise on Mount Rainier. Back country hikers should be prepared for winter conditions. A Winter Weather Advisory for snow means that periods of snow will cause primarily travel difficulties. Be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving.
Earlier Warning...

The National Weather Service has issued a special weather statement.  Here is the text:








Indeed, it does look challenging.  Think of it as preserving good spring conditions...

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Climbing and Route Conditions 2017

There are three basic types of information that you may be seeking.

1. General Information about Climbing Mt. Rainier
2. Route, Avalanche, Skiing, and Snow Conditions
3. Climbing Permits, Reservations, and the Climbing Fee

There are two ways you can get this information:

1) Reading this blog
2) Calling the Climbing Information Center
3) Visit the NPS.GOV website.

Please, Read this Blog First

If you don't find what you're looking for, please give us a call.  We have found that most questions can be answered at your own leisure, 24/7, by using this blog.

Rangers are now working at the Climbing Information Center on the weekends.  No one will answer the phone during the week.  As of June 10, the CIC will be staffed 7 days per week.  However, remember that ranger will be registering climbers while they are talking to you.  The number is 360-569-6641.

Please exhaust the resources on the blog first before calling:

General Information about Climbing Mt. Rainier

We spent a bunch of time and put together 25-40 page compendiums of climbing information and advice.  We are calling these 'route briefs'.  Not exactly brief, but certainly comprehensive. 

Please start here.  Follow these links:

Camp Muir / Disappointment Cleaver Route Brief
Camp Schurman / Emmons-Winthrop Route Brief

Current Route, Avalanche, Skiing, and Snow Conditions

After you've looked at our route briefs, please read the conditions reports on this blog.

We are renewing efforts and placing a higher priority on providing routine blog posts on this blog throughout the season.  We have spent a good deal of time updating the background mechanics of how the blog works.  You can now subscribe to RSS feeds for this blog and it will come up in your news reader when a new conditions report is made.

Look to this blog first before calling!

You're likely to get just as good or better information here than from a ranger at the desk who's trying to juggle selling climbing passes, issuing permits, registering climbers, and giving resource protection information.

Climbing Permits, Reservations, and the Climbing Fee

This information changes from year to year, but stays the same, usually for each calendar year.

For permits, reservations, and information on the climbing fee, please choose the "permits and reservations" link to the right.


Thanks for being patient with us.  We've updated many of our systems in the last 6 months.  It will take us some time before everything is up and running smoothly.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tahoma Glacier (May 10th, 2017)

Kautz Glacier (May 10th, 2017)

Kautz and Kautz Headwall

Fuhrer Finger (May 10th, 2017)

Nisqually Iceflow, Wilson Cleaver and Fuhrer Finger

Fuhrer Finger and Fuhrer Thumb

Little Tahoma (May 10th, 2017)

SE Face of Little Tahoma

Hogsback accessing the Whitman Glacier via the Ingraham

Emmons-Winthrop Glaciers (May 10th, 2017)

Winthrop Glacier

Winthrop Shoulder

Emmons Glacier and Steamboat Prow

Liberty Ridge (May 10th, 2017)

Exiting the Carbon Glacier onto the toe of the ridge
Lower Liberty
Lower Liberty to Thumb Rock
Liberty Ridge

Upper Liberty/Black Pyramid
Willis Wall

Ptarmigan Ridge (May 10th, 2017)

Large serac collapse through the route
Ptarmigan Ridge

Ptarmigan Ridge/Liberty Cap glacier

Mowich Face (May 10th, 2017)

Sunset Ridge, Edmunds Headwall

Central Mowich Face

North Mowich Glacier

Sunset Ridge (May 10th, 2017)

Sunset Ridge

South Mowich Glacier

North Mowich Glacier/Edmunds Glacier

Emmons Glacier Route

Here are a few more pictures of the Emmons Glacier from May 9th. The overall condition of the route is fantastic! The warm up from last week really did a great job of creating a firm snow surface up to 11,500 ft. Above this point is was a mix of wind scoured snow and small wind drifts.
Generally speaking this time of year the route climbs up the corridor, and traverses north along the alpine meadow out to the Winthrop shoulder.  From there it is straight up to the summit. The distance from Camp Schurman to the summit is approx. 2.25 miles.

Along the route shown in a previous post, there were only 4 crevasse crossings. All of them were minor and easy to step across.  The Ice cliff along the North side of the corridor is very filled in and provides many options for access onto the corridor.
There were many options to the summit from 13,000' up. The traverse out to/from Liberty saddle looked like a good option for parties if straight up doesn't go.
The road is still closed to White River but is snow free. From the Ranger Station to the camp ground the road is mostly snow covered.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

New Weather Alert from the National Weather Service

Pay attention to these weather alerts from the NWS. Turns out, the weather is forecastable. Yet, it is common for climbers to get caught off-guard by the weather. Don't forget that the weather turns what is an enjoyable period of good-times into a trajic, life and death condition. Same place, just different time.

Special Weather Statement issued May 09 at 3:00PM PDT until further notice by NWS Published:

2017-05-09 03:00:00


Hikers, backpackers and campers should plan for cool and showery conditions if traveling into the Olympics and Cascades Thursday through the weekend. An upper level low will shift inland bringing cool and unstable conditions to Western Washington, a big change from the warm and dry weather early this week. Snow levels will hover near 8000 feet then drop to around 3000 to 4000 feet Thursday night into Friday as the cooler air mass moves inland.

With wet and unstable conditions, expect a mix of rain and low-elevation snow showers in the mountains along with a chance of thunderstorms in the Cascades. This cool and showery pattern may continue into early next week as another upper level low tracks over the Pacific Northwest. Continue to monitor the forecast for the latest details.

Emmons Glacier Route

This is just in from the rangers at Camp Schurman:  KML Emmons-Winthrop Glacier Route.

Looks like a good direct route this year.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Postcards from Camp Schurman

Two rangers busted their way in to Camp Schurman yesterday.  They sent me two pictures of camp.  In 25 years of working here, I can't quite remember this much snow there, at least what I am seeing in the pictures.  However we chalk it up, it's a lot of snow.

This is another good indicator that there is plenty of snow on the mountain this summer.  This affects the climbing conditions, especially on the harder routes that melt out to bare rock at some point each season.  I hope this means that the harder routes will stay in shape longer this summer.

From the back of the hut, looking up the Emmons-Winthrop glaciers.

The Schurman toilet!

When does the White River Road open?

Right now, the White River road is scheduled to open on 5/26, just two weeks away.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Climbing Fee - FAQs

Do I need to pay the climbing cost recovery fee to climb Mount Rainier?
Yes. All persons climbing on glaciers, attempting a summit, or climbing above high camps (10,000 feet) are required by law to pay the Mount Rainier Climbing Cost Recovery Fee and register for their climb.
Do I need to pay the climbing fee to hike up to Camp Muir or Camp Schurman but no higher?
There is no need to pay the climbing fee to travel only as far as Camp Muir or Camp Schurman. If you are going for a day trip only, nothing additional is required. If you are staying out overnight, you still need a permit.  We waive the fee.  The permit you fill out is still the same as the climbing permit.  We ask for the added information beyond a regular wilderness permit for search and rescue and trip completion integrity.
If I pay the climbing fee, do I still need to register for my climb in person?
Yes. Your party is still required to register (obtain a cllimbing permit), in person, for your climb on the day your climb begins or the day prior to the climb at a ranger station.
How do I pay the climbing fee?
We highly encourage you to pay online through BEFORE you come to the park:  Follow this link: Pay.Gov - Mount Rainier Climbing Fee  A method to pay at time of registration is being developed, but is not available yet.

What methods of payment are accepted?
You will need a credit card to pay the climbing fee through Checks and cash are currently accepted at our self-registration kiosks, but we are not printing climbing passes any longer and you will not receive a climbing pass.  Please pay the climbing fee online so that you will get a receipt of payment.  That functions as your yearly climbing pass.

Where can I pay the climbing fee?
The climbing fee can only be paid  through Currently there is no cell or internet service in the park for the public, so you must pay the climbing fee BEFORE you come to the park. We are working to create an option to pay at time of registration but it is not available yet (as of May 7, 2017). Paying in advance also saves time during registration so the ranger can focus on talking with you about the actual climb instead of administrative requirements.
How much is the climbing fee?
The climbing fee is:
  • $47 dollars/person 25 years and older.
  • $32 dollars/person 24 years and younger.
If I pau the climbing fee, how long is it valid?
The climbing fee is good from the day purchased through December 31st of the year purchased.
How many climbs can I do in a calendar year once I have paid the fee?
You may register for an unlimited number of climbs within the calendar year.
Where does the money from the climbing fee go?
The funds generated from Mount Rainier Climbing Pass sales are used to run the Mount Rainier Climbing Program. Funds are used to:
  • Protect the mountain's delicate and unique alpine environment
  • Staff the mountain's high camps with climbing rangers
  • Staff ranger stations with climbing rangers and other personnel to assist climbers in registration
  • Maintain a clean and healthful upper mountain free of human waste
  • Fly human waste off the mountain from collection points and dispose of it properly
  • Provide rangers who can rapidly respond to incidents on the mountain
Do I need to show that I have paid the climbing fee when I register for a climb?
Yes, you will need to show your confirmation email you received from when you paid the fee. This serves as your receipt. Either print the email or save it so that you can show it to us on your device. Each climber must also have a valid photo I.D. at the time they register for their climb.
What if I show up to climb and I have forgotten my confirmation email/receipt?
If you have a valid photo ID, we can look you up in the system to see if you have paid. However, this slows down the registration process, so it is strongly recommended to bring your confirmation email/receipt with you.
Does every climber need to have valid photo I.D.?
Yes. A valid photo ID is required when showing us a receipt/confirmation email of paying the climbing fee. This allows us to confirm that you actually paid the fee.
Can I let my friends use my use my climbing fee confirmation/receipt?
No. The climbing fee is per person.
Is my Mount Rainier climbing fee valid anywhere else?
The climbing fee is good only at Mount Rainier.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Snowfield Winter Route


Traveling to Camp Muir in the early season is an enjoyable adventure in the snow. For many visitors it is a new adventure and knowing where to go is an important part of the journey. The photos represent a 3D view of the Winter Route from Paradise to Camp Muir. It is the most commonly used route this time of year. As the snow melts this route will change, but visitors can expect to use this for the next several weeks.

Make sure you bring a map/compass or GPS. Landmarks are helpful to know where your at. Some of these landmarks are noted in the photos. Taking time to learn where these are at will help you plan your day and can help you navigate if visibility is limited. Make sure you travel prepared for winter conditions as the snowfield has a history of catching many visitors off guard during the early season. 
The current forecast is calling for up to three days of mostly clear skies with a rising freezing level. Be sure to check the forecast the day of you trip as weather forecast can always change. The Jackson Visitor Center in Paradise is open 10am - 5pm daily beginning May 7th. There you can find free maps and good information on other fun adventures around the paradise area. Be sure to bring your snow boots!

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Spring Warm-Up

The mountain has seen it's first big warmup of the spring over the last two days with freezing levels climbing to approximately 12,000 ft. This warm-up gave the mountain an opportunity to shed some winter surface layers by means of loose wet avalanches and calving off large snow cornices on some of the steeper slopes. This also provided snowpack consolidation and stability which should benefit climbers in the coming weeks. The Muir snowfield is in good ski condition with the "winter route"      (up pan face continuing to McClure rock) is the most commonly used path to access the snowfield and Camp Muir this time of year.

On the whole, there is noticeably quite a bit more snow on the mountain at middle elevations.  This was the first few days that the rangers have spent time opening up camp and getting systems rolling for the summer.  The wind rolls of snow on the ridge at the ranger station and public shelters are noticeably larger this year.

Other rangers on other projects in the park have also noted that on the Emmons Glacier, at least a meter more snow than normally observed this time of the year was present.  This bodes well for our steeper and harder climbing routes as this helps keep the rocks encased more stably behind the snow.

Photo: NPS / Reade

On the way to Muir, there is a boot/ski track, but no wands. The guide companies have been active at Camp Muir with trainings and making preparations for the upcoming season.  There is an un-wanded boot track to Ingraham flats, and guides have reported climbing a route up the Ingraham Direct to Approximately 13,000 before turning back. The forecast is calling for freezing levels to drop back down to 5,000 with a mix of thunderstorms, rain, and snow over the next two days with another high pressure to follow.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Volunteer Opportunity at the Climbing Information Center

The Mount Rainier climbing program is seeking two dedicated and reliable volunteers to staff the climbing information center from May 22, 2017 to September 7, 2017.  Come experience and be part of "A Year in Paradise!"  This volunteer opportunity is perfect for a individual (or a couple) who are willing to commit to an exciting and remarkable summer in one of the country's most idyllic and historic natural park settings.  Incumbent works three (3) 10-12 hour shifts per week, leaving four days each week for personal discovery and free time with close access to all of Mt. Rainier's dramatic natural resources!

Duties and Details:

•  A significant degree of maturity and perspective is required of this position in order to function independently in a kisok/information/permitting environment.

•  The duties of the position do NOT require a great degree of physical fitness, but do require standing behind a desk for long periods of time.

•  A background and understanding reflective of a former professional career in the sciences, teaching, or in an outdoor industry is highly recommended.

•  Duty days are 10-12 hours per day, 3 days per week (Tues-Thurs), usually double staffed with another volunteer.

•  An 11+ mile commute to Paradise each morning and returning at the end of the day is required and is a part of the workday.  A government car will usually be provided, however, occasional use of a personal vehicle may also be required to get to work from Longmire.

•  No emergency services duties (fire, aviation, SAR, or EMS) are required by the position.

•  Occasional wilderness and trail patrols may be possible, but are not required of the position.

•  Typing, computer, radio, and telephone use are required by the position.

•  Incumbent must pass a government background investigation to access low level government computer systems and email.

•  Housing can be provided (Longmire or Ashford, WA), but is not required.

•  A mileage reimbursement of 14 cents per mile for up to 22 miles per day is available when the use of a personal vehicle was required.  An additional reimbursement of up to $20 per day is also available to reimburse meals and other living expenses while away from your home.

•  This is a full-time volunteer opportunity.

•  Housing is included and may be in Longmire or other various places in the park.

For more information, contact Stefan Lofgren, Mountaineering District Ranger, at 360-569-6642 or Stefan_Lofgren (at)

To apply, follow this link:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Reservation System Goes Live!

The new reservation system for climbers just opened for the season.  See the park's Wilderness Permits Page to make a reservation.  This is a new system so it will take some time to get used to, but we're no longer using a fax machine!  Here's the gist:

- Go to the Wilderness Permits Page and familiarize yourself with the information there
- Click the big blue button that says "Go to Reservation Request Form"
- Fill out the form with your information and your trip itinerary
- Submit the form
- Wait for the confirmation that your reservation went through (we start processing April 1st)
- Take your confirmation code and go to the Pay.Gov website to pay for your passes and fee
- Come to the park and go to a Ranger Station to check in for your trip
- Climb!
- Return to a Ranger Station and check out from your climb
- Drive safely back home

There's more information regarding the reservation process and about what happens if your first-choice itinerary isn't available.  As a reminder: reservations aren't mandatory, but they are a good idea if your party size is large, people are travelling a long distance with a limited time frame, or if you want to climb on a weekend in July.  Every camp also has sites designated for walk-ups that aren't available to reserve in advance.

There's bound to be a couple bumps in the road as we move to this new system, so bear with us!

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Climbing Fee Changes!

We're excited to be rolling out a new climbing fee payment system.  The big news is that we WILL NOT be issuing physical climbing passes anymore.  Climbing passes were those little business card sized vouchers we have been using since 1995.

Payment of the Mt. Rainier climbing fee will be through PAY.GOV.  The website should be online within the next few days to a week or so.  I will post the link here and a variety of other places when the system comes online.

Please do not send any more fax purchase forms in!

We are encouraging climbers to pay the fee before they get here through  However, you will also be able to pay once you get here, too.  We are working hard to provide public WIFI at a few select locations; 1) Paradise CIC, 2) Longmire WIC, and 3) the White River WIC.  It's not available yet.  You will be able to pay with your own device.  For those who will not have a device, we will have iPad payment stations (on stands) at these locations.

Please keep your receipt and either save it to your PDF viewer on your phone or bookmark your email verification or print it out on your printer so you can show us later.  We will be able to check to see if you have paid your fee, but this may take extra time.

The fee is still the same:

$47 for adults (26yo and older)
$34 for youth (25yo and younger)