Monday, July 10, 2017

Hazardous Midsummer Conditions

Although summer weather was delayed arriving to Mount Rainier this season, strong high pressure and warm temperatures over the last few weeks have taken their toll on the upper mountain. Despite good snow coverage early on this spring, recent hot weather has begun to melt out many of the routes at a rapid rate. Climbers, guides and rangers alike have been reporting persistent rock fall, hollow bergschrunds, icefall and tedious glacial navigation on some of the mountains popular routes.

Although some parties have been continuing to climb routes like Liberty Ridge, Ptarmigan Ridge, Fuhrer Finger, etc... nearly all of them have reported near misses and unsafe/unstable conditions. In addition, some parties have even had team members pegged by rockfall while on route. At this stage in the summer, climbing rangers are asking public climbers to avoid these routes in order to minimize risk. Just because you might be able to sneak up a route, lucky and unscathed DOES NOT mean you should. Although many routes may no longer be "in season" here on the mountain, there is still plenty of fun to be had climbing other routes like the Disappointment Cleaver, the Emmons and the Kautz Glacier. Waiting until next spring to tick off a new, non-standard route may very well be your best bet.

With that said, any climbers that wish to speak more thoroughly on the topic are more than welcome to call the Paradise CIC (360.569.6641) or White River WIC (360.569.6670). Rangers there may be able to answer your questions or connect you with climbing rangers directly.