Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Winter Season Transition

The last week of September is the last week of guided climbing trips on Mount Rainier for the season.  Guides will be pulling out the fixed pickets, wands, and ladders that they worked hard to maintain all summer long.  With colder temperatures, larger storm cycles, and no route kicked-in to the summit, winter conditions have arrived.

The Climbing Information Center also closed for the season this week.  Climber registration is still mandatory, but can be done in-person at the self-registration kiosk when you arrive.  See the Permits and Registration page for more info. 

There's still lots of road construction going on inside the park.  Please read signage and make sure to park your car in the appropriate location - especially if you're planning to be out overnight.  Freezing levels for early October are forecast to be around 5000 feet.  Hopefully we'll be skiing right out of the parking lot soon!

To illustrate the point, here is a graph of the 5-year average number of climbers per week.  The interesting thing to note is that we've seen a slight shift of the climbing occur over the last couple of years.  The season start a week or two 'earlier' than it did 10 or 20 years ago.  The end of the season also begins to wind down faster than it did historically.  The graph shows climbers registering for the Disappointment Cleaver route only.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Climbing Information Center Weekends Only

September 17th

Another beautiful day after the storm!  Yesterday was a bit blustery as the storm delivered a solid blow (70mph at Muir) as well as heavy rain (2.4 inches at Paradise).  For the skiers in the crowd, the freezing level (about 11,000' elevation) unfortunately resulted in more rain than snow on the Muir Snowfield, but winter may be back again next week!  For the climbers, the heavy rain and relatively high freezing level  resulted in a hard frozen layer for much of the mid mountain.  As the storm cooled, it eventually transitioned to snow.  Conditions like this make for more challenging footing and self-arrest.  While it's unclear just how high the frozen layer may exist, climbers should be prepared for much more difficult climbing over the next few days, until either another snowstorm buries the frozen layer, or it warms up enough to thaw things out.  Regardless, it's beautiful up here now with a new dusting of white offset by all the fall colors!
Climber Self-registration Kiosk
Now for some logistics...  The Climbing Information Center will only be open during the weekends in September.  We close during the weekdays due to low volume, but open back up Saturday and Sunday for business - 08:00 to 16:30.  Swing on in and say "hello" before heading out on your adventures if you visit on the weekend.  Climbers can self-register at Paradise when the Climbing Information Center is closed.  There's a kiosk with all the instructions to get you a climbing pass (if you still need one this year) and to fill out a permit/check-out card.

Parking at Paradise will also change in September due to a paving project.  Here's the gist: if you want to park overnight, please park in the Paradise Picnic Area or along the Paradise Valley Road.  See this press release for further details and a helpful map!

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Summer flowers fade to Fall color

September 1st 

A crisp morning sunrise, a stroll through the woods, sweaters and hot cocoa.  Thoughts of fall are in the air and soon the color show will begin. For many fall is a time of reflection. A time when we slow down, take in the view, and remember what we have accomplished. A time to sit and watch the landscape become a painted mosaic of vibrant color. 

Fantastic color in the paradise area fall of 2015

Mount Rainier is known for its amazing landscape displays of which some of the most spectacular are fall color. Labor day weekend marks the beginning of that change from summer to fall. This year Labor day weekend will hold some of those familiar fall notes with cooler temperatures, a chance of rain, and new snow on the upper mountain.

Much of the wildlife will be out about preparing for the winter season ahead. Please remember to not feed the wildlife and stay on the marked paths. Warm clothes, gloves and hats should be part of every visitors outfit while enjoying the park this time of year. The park is still seeing a far amount to visitation from hikers and climbers so don't forget to come in early for your backcountry camping permit. "Find your park" this labor day weekend!