Mount Rainier, a 14,411-foot-tall glaciated Cascade Volcano, has one of the busiest climbing seasons in the world with over 11,000 climbers attempting to summit each year. In 1995, the Climbing Cost Recovery Fee was instituted to meet the National Park's need for the specialized service provided to climbers who make up less than 1% of the park’s total annual visitors. This Cost Recovery Fee funds the Mount Rainier Climbing Ranger Program and its mission to provide professional emergency services, mountaineering information, and resource protection for the mountain, while supporting the greater mission of the National Park Service.
The Climbing Ranger Program consists of a staff of ten seasonal rangers, four lead rangers, and one program manager. Main duties include staffing and maintaining the Climbing Information Center and both of the high camps, Camp Muir and Camp Schurman, performing climbing patrols on standard and non-standard routes, providing up-to-date climbing conditions and safety information, management of search and rescue related incidents, and protecting and monitoring the park’s natural resources.
The Climbing Rangers train and maintain competency in five core skills:
• Mountaineering - Climbing rangers all have proficiency in a variety of mountaineering disciplines including ice, rock, and alpine climbing as well as ski mountaineering. Rangers in the program pursue a professional level of climbing ability through accredited mountain guide training.
• Technical Rope Rescue - All rangers train for expertise and proficiency as technical rope rescue team leaders and technicians. Rangers lead and conduct operations with industrial style front-country rope rescue techniques as well as remote back-country and alpine rope rescue techniques.
• Aviation – The rangers serve as crew members on the exclusive use A-Star B3 helicopter as well as other aircraft, including the Army Reserve’s CH-47F Chinooks. Rangers also have special-use training in both Short-Haul operations and Single Skid, Toe-in, and Hover Entry and Exit Procedures (STEP).
• Snow and Avalanche Science - As the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, rangers work and live on snow and provide assessment and interpretation of avalanche hazard for both climbers on the upper mountain and for visitors travelling in the winter up to Paradise.
• Emergency Medicine - Trained as Emergency Medical Technicians and Park Medics, the ranger staff provides patient care and emergency transportation for injured visitors.
The Climbing Ranger Program is always looking for qualified and enthusiastic candidates to join the team. Like all other positions within the National Park Service, the program hires solely through the USAJobs website. For more information, please contact the park.