Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Late-July Prime Time

Busy Weekend at Camp Muir
It's that time of year again!  Summer weather has arrived with the hottest day in July predicted to be this upcoming Friday.  The two standard routes on either side of the mountain are still in great shape (but changing daily due to the hot weather).  And the daylight still lasts for over 15 hours (sunrise around 05:30 and sunsets around 21:00).  Climbing conditions are great!

Climbing early is important on these hot sunny days.  Snow bridges across crevasses weaken, seracs fall more often, and rocks frozen in place melt out during the middle of the day.  Try to be off the hazardous parts of the routes by noon.

Another tip for this time of year is to climb during the middle of the week.  Weekends can be crowded, and the opportunity of experiencing some "solitude" of climbing high in the alpine zone can be tough to get.  Plan your trip around the middle of the week for less crowds, quiet camping, and less jams on the route.  See you on the mountain!

Friday, July 08, 2016

Weather Windows

What is the weather doing on Mount Rainier? The age old questions that is on everyone mind when they come to climb the mountain, or is it? Many climbers plan months in advance, travel long distances, and sacrifice many other things to make their one trip to climb the Mountain. No matter how much planning goes into a trip their are always those unexpected obstacles we can't control like the weather. So what are you going to do about it?
Early Spring Conditions on Mount Rainier
There are so many weather tools out their today that provide us with the latest and greatest forecast, giving hour by hour in-depth information, but many of us don't know how to read or have the time to learn how to interpret these fancy graphs and flow charts.  So many climbers just ask the expert when is the best time to climb while they are here on their trip. What is my weather window? The new age question climber want to know.
So what is a weather window and how does it relate to climbing Mount Rainier? Many new aspiring mountaineers have preconceived ideas of what this may encompass. When do I start? How many hours? What is my turn around time? All good thoughts but in the grand scheme these questions are small picture thinking.  Weather windows at Mount Rainier should be measured in days not hours. The vast majority of people attempting a climb will take 3 days, and on the summit day from a high camp will take most of a day (8-14 hours) to complete.  Big picture high pressure vs. low pressure weather patterns are important to pay attention to. High pressure weather systems (called ridges) will provide you with the best weather window for making a successful climb. Climbing during a low pressure weather systems (call troughs) can have its successes but can be limited and challenging in possibly hazardous conditions.
Make sure to check the synopsis paragraph on the Mount Rainier Recreational Forecast
It will give you best up to date big picture view of what is happening at Mount Rainier and the surrounding area.