Thursday, March 29, 2018

Almost April

Conditions in March varied drastically week to week this year.  Periods of winter-like storms enveloped the mountain, rainy spring-like storms passed through as well, and then moments of glorious sunshine occurred and made it seem like summer was truly on the way.  Skiers and climbers have been busy out on the lower slopes of the mountain.  Carving turns in fresh snow, drawing with pastels amongst an alpine landscape, and testing equipment to prepare for an early-season climb on Denali were just some of the activities on the mountain in March.

All of the spring months, March, April, and May, are notorious for lengthy storms and bad weather.  Even when the cherry trees are blossoming down in the city, the slopes of the upper mountain can be extremely harsh.  Any summit attempts should be made by teams with lots of experience, and not just climbing experience in general, but previous climbing experience on Mount Rainier.  It's strongly recommended that climbers attempt the mountain for the first time during the regular summer season.  Not having the correct warm clothes, a stove malfunction, running out of food and water, a ripped tent, being unable to navigate, and so many other hazards can become serious events this time of year.  Make conservative decisions in the backcountry during this time.  And, as always, check the forecast and avalanche report before venturing out on snowy slopes.

As the summer season draws near, and climbing plans start to gel, check the park's Permits and Reservations page to make sure your team gets all their proper paperwork taken care of.  The Paradise Wilderness Information Center will start opening on the weekends in early-May and seven-days-a-week starting the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend.  Swing on in and say hello to the staff and get all your climbing questions answered!