Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Climbing Information Center Opens 4/28!


The Climbing Information Center (CIC) is opening Saturday morning, the 28th of April at 08:00 am.  The ranger station will be open Saturday and Sunday until full-time operations begins Friday, May 25.  The opening hours will generally be 7:00 am to 4:00 pm, however this weekend (4/28), we will open at 8:00 am close at 3:00 pm each day.

Permits and Fees

To climb Mount Rainier, you must register and pay the annual climbing cost recovery fee.

When the station is open, you'll have to come inside to get a climbing permit.  When the station is closed (Mon-Fri until May 25), self-registration will be in effect in the foyer outside the main entrance to the CIC (inside the door in the picture above).

Although there are self-payment kiosks to pay the climbing fee inside the CIC, we recommend paying the fee online before you leave home for the park.  Pay it here:  The climbing fee, once paid, is good for multiple climbs in the calendar year in which you buy it.

Climbing and Route Information

Although the entire climbing ranger team is on duty, they are all in several weeks of training that include mountaineering, EMS, technical rope rescue, aviation, avalanche, skiing, wilderness, and other skills.  None of the rangers have climbed the mountain yet.  However they have flown around the mountain during aviation training and have taken some good pictures during clear weather.  Be sure and check out the pictures in the posts below.

In the upper right hand corner of this page are links to two documents called, "In Depth Route Briefs."  They are 20-30 page documents that should answer all your questions about climbing Mount Rainier.  Please download and read them and keep them on your device for reference.  We have also produced two more in the last few months concerning Liberty Ridge and the Kautz Glacier routes.  We'll post those here and blog it when we do.

Changing Names

As a minor side note, the name of this ranger station is changing to the Paradise Wilderness Information Center.  The change in names should be of little notice to you in the function that the station provides, however, the change is being made to make it more clear to other users in the park that more types of information can be obtained there than just climbing.

Good luck and we'll see you here!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Early Season Photographs!

Liberty Ridge, April 2018
Here are some images of the upper mountain taken April 19th, 2018. Remember that conditions can change rapidly and the snow coverage in these photos is likely different than it was just a few days ago.

Notable observations included visibly icy conditions on the upper reaches of Liberty Ridge, bare ice on the Kautz Glacier route, and several large avalanche crowns on a variety of aspects and elevations.

More photos can be viewed here.

Fuhrer Finger
Ingraham Glacier and Disappointment Cleaver

Monday, April 23, 2018

Spring Warm-up, Special Avalanche Bulletin

Warm, summer-like temperatures are coming to Mount Rainier this week. And with this rapid change in temperature will come rapid changes to the snowpack as it transitions from cold, wintery snow into consolidated spring snow. This isn't terribly surprising since the freezing level is climbing from roughly 2500' last week to well over 10,000' this week!

The Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC) has issued a special avalanche bulletin due to these warm temperatures. Read their forecast and discussion here.

If you're planning to visit the park this week, be especially cognizant of overhead hazards like cornices and hanging snowfields that will weaken and may collapse as the mercury rises. Other hazards may include rapidly opening creeks, difficult travel conditions, and possibly very large, deep slab avalanches. Be on the lookout for signs of avalanche activity including pinwheel-shaped avalanche debris, and deep, sloppy postholing. Select conservative terrain and remember that conditions will change rapidly as temperatures climb throughout the day.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

April Showers, No May Flowers

Winter is slowly releasing its grip on Mount Rainier. While stormy weather has been the norm recently, there have been glimpses of the upper mountain and some of the climbing routes at times. Rangers have been out training on the mountain and in the Tatoosh over the past few weeks finding deep and variable snow conditions. Summer climbing season still seems a long way off at the moment and there won't be flowers poking out anytime soon!

View from the Tatoosh Range on April 9th, 2018

Speaking of winter snowpack, Paradise currently has 98% of its historic average snowpack. That means that we have over 180” of snow on the ground at 5400’—that’s fifteen feet of snow! A series of cold storms beginning Wednesday should continue through the weekend, adding more snow and creating difficult travel conditions with poor visibility at times. Comprehensive pre-trip planning, avalanche assessment skills, and whiteout navigation will be necessary if you plan to visit the park this weekend. It is possible to minimize snow travel by choosing low elevation trails near the Nisqually entrance and Longmire; some of these are melting to bare ground, but are still largely snow-covered above about 3000’. Be prepared for and self-sufficient in off-trail navigation regardless of your chosen route.

The transition into spring commonly comes with a wide range of freezing levels. In the past week, we have seen freezing levels climb to around Camp Muir elevations (think RAIN!) and snowfall as low as 3000’. This huge temperature range leads to rapid changes in the snowpack, dynamic avalanche problems, and diligent observation about changing weather and snow conditions. Remember that “big changes lead to big problems” when dealing with avalanches. Be sure to review the avalanche and weather forecast before you come to the Park.

Remember that the gate in Longmire closes at 5:30PM for downhill traffic, so plan to depart from Paradise no later than 4:30PM to get down with plenty of time. Pending conditions, winter gate hours will remain in effect for another week or so.