Friday, June 30, 2023

Upper Mountain Skiing Considerations: 4th of July Weekend

Howdy folks, we’ve got a few things for y’all to think on who are considering bringing skis up this holiday weekend. We have seen a lot of folks attempt to ski the Emmons this past week and it has put the rangers climbing beneath them on edge.

It is full summer on the upper mountain. It's highly variable and dangerous ski conditions. There are few to no planar surfaces. Climbers descending by foot have been beating skiers down the mountain. This is not the place for skiing just for the sake of skiing. We want to see everyone have a safe and enjoyable time this week, and skiing is not the ideal tool for current conditions.

The Emmons on 6/30.

All in all, we are strongly recommending AGAINST skiing this weekend or the rest of summer. If you’re really fiending for some turns, there’s a few left on the Inter or Muir snowfield.

Considerations if you are still bringing skis above 10k:

Remember that falling on the Emmons is not an option. We have had serious injuries and death from skiers catching the wrong edge.

Rangers have been observing skiers side-slipping the bootpack as their descent. This creates overhead hazard for the parties below you, both you as a fall hazard and the snow and ice you’re sending down towards others. This also destroys the bootpack, and that’s pretty rude. 

Please make turns as far away from other climbers as possible. Rangers have also been observing skiers skiing far too quickly and close to climbers on foot. Please be considerate of climbers on foot, both ascending and descending. They have the right of way. 

If your only safe ski descent option is the bootpack, it’s a sign that ski season is over. Please recognize when travel by foot is the safest and most effective way to descend. 

It is looking like a sunny holiday weekend and camps are full or filling up. Please remember to respect other climbers and enjoy the opportunity of being on the mountain and in wilderness. 

Emmons-Winthrop 6/24

We've moved into some typical summer weather, and the past week has brought lots of sunny mornings and grumbly, thundery afternoons.

Climbers continue to visit through at Camp Schurman, and things are certainly looking like they'll be busy on the mountain this weekend. Remember that everyone else you see is there because they love the same things you do. Keep up that patience and positivity on the route in the early hours of the morning.


The Emmons-Winthrop route has been seeing a slightly slower melt out than what we're seeing on the Muir side. That being said that little bit of new snow we saw last week has long since melted away and isn't a factor at this point. Most climbers seem to be taking a route similar to that which we posted about back on 6/17, but there are many different boot packs in play, so making your own calls about where to tread is always good. Crossings were in good shape when rangers climbed again on 6/24, but some time has passed, and we are entering a period of warming.

Little Tahoma, with the shadow of the mountain overhead

Views from Camp Schurman remain impeccable!

Also, a side note: we had a rescue up on the mountain last week wherein an exceptionally well-prepared party was able to take great care of their friend in a way that made all the difference. Travelling light is important, but we always recommend taking along enough gear with each party that you could hunker down, stay warm, and make water if you need to.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Muir Public Shelter and Trash

The emergency shelter at Camp Muir is a welcome resource for climbers and hikers who find themselves at Camp Muir and need a brief respite from difficult weather conditions. However, as we move into the busy part of the Rainier climbing season, we are seeing a spike in the amount of waste left behind and scattered about Camp Muir. As a reminder - every item brought up the mountain with you must leave the mountain with you. Rangers removed 25 lbs. of waste from the public shelter, food storage bins outside the shelter and various places around camp this past weekend. 

A pile of trash from a busy weekend at Camp Muir

  • Emergency Use. The primary use of this shelter is as an emergency shelter.  On a space-available basis, users are welcome to sleep in it. Please remember the sad stories over the years where climbers who were in need of shelter, found their way to the hut during a storm, discovered it was full, and decided to descend and never made it back to Paradise. If you are occupying the shelter, you are the host. Please welcome all folks into the hut, especially when the weather is poor or the condition of the folks look like they need it.

  • BYOB. Bring your own bivy or tent. There are no reservations for the public shelter, so park employees can't guarantee you a spot. It fits about 25 people comfortably, and even more during a storm.  Make sure you are conscious about how much space your stuff is taking up when there are a lot of people who want to stay in the public shelter.

  • Leave the shelter nicer than you found it. That means leaving none of your trash, half eaten food, and/or untouched food. People seem to think they are doing others a favor by leaving food, but people don't eat things when they have no idea where it came from. At best it all gets thrown out and it's a terrible waste.  At worst, it starts a habituated wildlife problem and attracts mice who then learn to eat through packs to get all those tasty energy bars.  Think about giving the hut a quick sweep before you go and wiping down the counter after you use it.

  • Label your food and put it in the bear boxes next to the shelter if you are stashing it for a climb. Be sure to have your name and the date you are due out on your bag of food. And when you head down from camp, bring everything with you. Leave nothing.

  • Be courteous to other public shelter users. Many are climbers that go to bed early to wake up very early.  Please keep things quiet in the evenings. If you are a light sleeper, bring earplugs so you don't get woken up as easily and get grouchy. Pack out ALL your trash, food, food scraps, clothes, and gear. Double check the shelter and outside it so you don't forget anything.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Emmons-Winthrop 6/17


Climbing rangers climbed the Emmons-Winthrop Route on 6/17. There were a couple of variations to the trail that climbing parties were taking. The rangers took the path that seemed the most traveled. This proved to be longer than the earlier variations this season, though it made for easier travel and looked like it offered the most solid bridges. They end ran cracks at about 12,300 and 13,600. The direct line to the summit from around 13,400 appeared to still go. It would be a bit steeper and more hollow, so parties should be carefully assessing every bridge. Be willing to back track if the route does not appear to be solid enough. Remember that it is a very dynamic environment on the upper mountain, and things can change rapidly within the period of your climb. 

The route the Rangers took on 6/17

Climbers descending the Corridor on the Emmons-Winthrop Route

By Sunday evening, winter had fully returned to the upper mountain, with 5 inches of snow at Camp Schurman. There appeared to be a few inches on the upper mountain. On one stormy night, a party camping on the rocks at Camp Schurman had their tent poles broken due to driving wind and snow. Be sure to bring a solid winter tent when the weather is not in stable, high pressure conditions. Additionally, consider having a good repair kit. It is worth noting that parties camped on the snow, and sheltered from the wind by said rock ridge, did not seem to have issues. As the snow recedes more at Schurman and the glaciers around camp become more broken, we do start allowing folks to camp on the rocks. Please be sure that you are at least 100 feet from the helipad. Make sure to consider the winds you may encounter and how much more exposed you will be on a ridge.

The traverse to the saddle between Liberty Cap and Columbia Crest

A traverse on the route around 12,300 ft.

A snow bridge covered from a dusting of fresh snow from Friday 6/16

Friday, June 23, 2023

Disappointment Cleaver Updates 06/22

June-uary delivered a much-needed refresh to the mountain this week. The upper mountain remained above the clouds for most of the weather, but the Paradise side still saw 2-4” of new snow above Camp Muir.

Looking towards Muir from across the Cowlitz after the new snowfall. About 2" blankets the glacier. 06/20.

 The route is still well-wanded and well-maintained. Be sure to thank the guides for their route work. 

The route around 13000' before the recent snow. 06/17.

Handlines are in place to protect sections of the route with high-consequence falls. While it can be helpful to utilize the handline to increase your security, know that it is still your responsibility to evaluate the snow anchors holding the line, or any adjunct, into the mountain. These are currently set up on the north end of the Bowling Alley, and in a steep section around 13600’. As always, the established boot pack may not be the best route after changing conditions. Assess conditions and choose your route accordingly.

Track from the Rangers' climb on 06/17


  • Proper rope management is required. If loose rock is present – get that rope off the ground! There are many ways to safely and properly manage the rope in these situations. Letting the rope drag along the ground is a guaranteed way to knock rocks down onto climbers below you. If you see teams traveling in full glacier intervals along the Cleaver, say something.
  • To crampon or not to crampon? Previous sun and high freezing levels created bare and dry travel conditions on loose rock. In these cases, crampon use can hinder safe movement. The points of your crampons are hard to balance on uneven terrain and increase the likelihood of a trip and fall. Save those ankles! Take the time to remove crampons on longer sections of exposed rock. However, even when rocks appear to be bare and snow free, ice can still linger and create slick travel surfaces that require crampons. With the new moisture input this past week, this could be the case in the early mornings and on cold days. Always assess conditions and decide accordingly.
Midway up the Cleaver. 06/13/23

STAY TOGETHER. Too many parties have been splitting up recently. This is how many of our rescues start. You are a team. Do not leave a member of your party who cannot continue alone while the other climbers summit. Do not go off alone to tag the summit if the rest of your team cannot make it. If you leave your rope team, you are now a solo climber. Solo travel requires a special application.

All in all, the route is direct and in great shape. Be safe and have fun!

Route and Weather Resources:

Disappointment Cleaver Route Guide (

Mt Rainier Recreational Forecast (

7-Day Forecast 46.83N 121.71W (

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Rope Management on the DC & Conditions Update 6/13/23

View of the Disappointment Cleaver (dark rocky cliff band) from Dunn's Roll. 

On both of their climbs to the summit via the Disappointment Cleaver route on 6/11 and 6/13, Rangers observed a number of parties unsure of how best to manage their rope when climbing up the cleaver itself. This can be a concerning safety hazard. For those who may not know, a "cleaver" is a rock-based formation that splits the unified flow of glacial ice in two. A cleaver resembles a meat cleaver, slicing a larger piece of meat in two — that's what a cleaver does to a glacier on a mountain! The DC Route leaves Camp Muir across the Cowlitz Glacier over Cathedral Gap, then traverses under the Ice Box, through the Bowling Alley, to reach the Disappointment Cleaver itself. After ascending the cleaver, the DC more or less shares terrain with the Ingraham Direct on the rest of the upper mountain to the summit. The surface of the Disappointment Cleaver is currently loose, small to medium sized talus with some larger boulders, and dirt. There are still two sections of snow coverage.

The traverse from Ingraham Flats underneath the Ice Box, through the Bowling Alley, to gain the Disappointment Cleaver. 

Rope Management on the Cleaver
With the current lack of snow on the Disappointment Cleaver, rocks that were once frozen into the hillside are now free from ice and able to transport down the slope. While ascending the cleaver, managing movement over the rock must be balanced with managing the rope. How your rope interacts with the landscape is paramount to both your and other climbers' safety. 

Looking down towards Little Tahoma from midway up the cleaver. Loose rocks of all shapes and sizes abound! 

The bottom line is that while you are traveling on the cleaver, the rope between you and the other members of your rope team needs to be kept off the ground. With no rope dragging on the ground, the risk of rocks being flossed downhill (towards other climbers) is significantly decreased. One way to achieve this is for members of your team to each pick up the length of rope between one another, and carry coils in hand. 

Current Route Conditions & Hazards
At this time, the DC follows a direct, well-defined line with snow bridges granting passage over most significant crevasses. That said, timing and surface conditions can change the integrity of snow bridges significantly. With consistently high freezing levels, and with the route facing a solar aspect, the mountain is constantly in flux. It is common for snow bridges that were substantial and trustworthy in the early morning, cold conditions to lose integrity throughout the day. Timing and situational awareness are key terms to understanding strategic glacier travel, and the DC is no exception. Remember, despite the obvious nature of the established route, the conditions are always changing. Your safety is in your hands!

Track from the Rangers' most recent climb of the DC on 6/13/23

Notable route updates from our last post include:
  • Rock & icefall: Rangers observed icefall from the ice cliffs at 12,500 ft adjacent to the DC on 6/13. Even with good timing descending the mountain early in the day, it is important to be situationally aware. Moving quickly through terrain with objective overhead hazard like large seracs, loose rocks, etc. is key to increasing your safety margin.  Pause to take breaks elsewhere!

  • Handline: There is currently a fixed line from the northern edge of the Bowling Alley on the steep snow traverse to the base of the cleaver. A handline is a fixed piece of rope that is anchored into the snow to assist you as you travel across a steep and/or exposed section of a route with fall consequence. While it can be helpful to utilize the handline to increase your security on the traverse, know that it is still your responsibility to evaluate the snow anchors holding the line, or any adjunct, into the mountain. Just like snow bridges, snow anchors that remain over long periods of time will have different strengths at different time depending on temperatures and other factors like the snow they are placed in. Guides evaluate this for their clients, so be sure to make this evaluation for yourself!

  • Cleaver snow coverage: The surface of the Disappointment Cleaver is currently loose, small to medium sized talus with some larger boulders and dirt. Two sections of snow coverage remain. 

Looking back towards the Ice Box on the steep snow traverse. Notice the handline just above the bootpack. 

That's the Disappointment Cleaver at this point in the season folks! We look forward to seeing you out on the mountain! And be sure to thank a guide for their work on "the route"! 


Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Emmons - Winthrop Update 06-11-23

A nighttime view of the Emmons

As we move into mid-June here on Mount Rainier, the Emmons-Winthrop Route is mostly still intact. The route has been seeing more skier traffic the last few weekends than boot traffic and some single push parties on the mountain. As a reminder for folks who are looking to ski/climb the route in a single push, you are still required to obtain a permit! These permits are issued by our wilderness information centers that are open from 7:30 am - 5:00 pm. See our recent blog post about Single Push Permitting.

From the White River Campground, the trail is completely free of snow until just above Glacier Basin. The Inter glacier is still skiable with the snowline starting just above Glacier Basin. Continue following the Upper Glacier Basin Trail onto the Inter Glacier and climb to Camp Curtis before descending onto the Emmons glacier below Camp Schurman. We have observed some climbing parties ascending the lower Emmons into Camp Schurmann completely unroped. This is ill advised as this terrain, like most glaciers - is heavily crevassed and an unroped fall here could have severe consequences. With warmer temperatures as we move into the summer season the risk of punching through weakening snow bridges is even higher. Please don't take snack breaks on top of snow bridges or the lips of crevasses (we have seen it happen)!

A skier crosses a crevassed section of the lower Emmons.

The main note on the Emmons-Winthrop Route is a very large crevasse that starts around 12,300 ft. in elevation and climbs diagonally to climbers left up the shoulder. It is no longer possible to climb directly up and over this. The route goes either climbers' left or right around this crack. Trying to end run it to the right, there was a thin snow bridge that was marginally plugged with snow and most parties seem to be going this way. Going left, the crack seemed to be more filled in, though it did require some route finding and deliberate movement to manage the terrain. From here most groups continue in standard fashion up route, gaining a little over 1000 vertical feet and ending up at the saddle between the summit and Liberty Cap and trending climbers left towards the summit.

Possible routes up the Emmons-Winthrop

As the season progresses, continue to closely monitor the weather on your summit bid days. Warmer temperatures and higher freezing levels increase hazard as the snowpack is not as consolidated as it is at cooler temperatures. When temperatures are in question, leave earlier! Avoid crossing questionable snow bridges late in the day when the snow is soft and punchy.

If you haven't read it already, please check out the NPS Route Briefing for the Emmons-Winthrop! This is a treasure trove of information for first time climbers and experienced climbers alike!

                                 A view of Little Tahoma from Camp Schurman

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Upper Mountain Skiing Considerations

The Emmons-Winthrop Glacier saw a lot of skier traffic on Memorial Day Weekend

As we move into June on Mount Rainier, we are seeing a dramatic shift to summer-like conditions on all routes. In tandem with this, skier traffic on the upper mountain is hitting all-time highs as the skiing itself rapidly deteriorates in quality. Solar input, especially as we approach summer, can lead to conditions such as: thin and discontinuous snow that requires steep downclimbing; variable snow surfaces such as sun cups, runnels, and penitentes; open crevasses; weak snow bridges; and rockfall. Ski movement ability is, perhaps, the best way to improve your safety margin from falling while skiing in the mountains. When combined, the conditions described will make a route "out of condition" even for the best of skier. Even the Muir Snowfield has discontinuous snow and is heavily sun cupped in the last 700ft to Camp Muir! Presently, the north side of the mountain is seeing less solar input and thus has more planar snow surfaces and better coverage. That said, the times are rapidly a 'changin due to consistent high freezing temperatures and sunny days.

Sun cups on the Muir Snowfield near Camp Muir 6/10/23. Shoe for scale

Even if someone skied the route a week prior, remember that we are in a highly dynamic environment that is changing at a fast rate: this results in quick route changes and new crevasses opening in a matter of hours, let alone days. Not only must you possess the skills necessary to navigate through heavily crevassed terrain, but anyone skiing the mountain must possess expert skiing abilities as any unplanned fall could have severe consequences. 

Rangers are observing a marked increase in skier traffic on the upper mountain in recent years, with a decrease in the movement abilities of skiers and riders. This has coincided with an increase in accidents involving skiing. One constant observation that rangers are making is that the basic approach to risk management is often skewed in skiing parties.

The two biggest misconceptions about the risks involved with skiing on Rainier are:

  • Speed of Glacial Navigation on a Ski Descent: Since you may have more days on skis annually going downhill at a resort than you do walking downhill with crampons on, you may be under the impression that skiing down the upper mountain will be easier than walking. What this perception lacks to factor in is that when you are skiing, the same glacial navigation and snow bridge evaluation you had to perform on the way up the mountain has to happen at over double the speed on the way down! Rangers have seen many close calls with skiers approaching blind, convex rolls at speed -- just barely stopping before skiing straight into a crevasse. In one case, a skier was observed accidentally jumping a crevasse they did not identify. When managing open glaciers, slow is smooth and smooth is fast. So be sure to ski slow and in control, especially when you cannot see the whole line you are skiing.

  • Safety of Skis vs. Booting Uphill: It is often assumed that since skis spread one's weight out over a large surface area, they are a safer method of travel on glaciers. This may be true for flat valley glaciers, but while ascending on steep terrain, the opposite is often true. The extra weight and awkwardness of skiing or snowboarding makes the endeavor more challenging and requires more attention paid to risk management. Variable, steep surfaces with significant fall consequences are not the place to practice “high-stakes skinning”, especially if you are new to backcountry travel.  


Individuals considering a ski attempt on Mt. Rainier should possess significant previous experience skiing on glaciers and at altitude. While no other Cascade volcano possesses the same degree of challenge for the ski mountaineer, it is strongly recommended to have experience skiing on other peaks like Mount Baker and Mount Adams before coming to Mount Rainier. Mt. Rainier has more substantial objective hazards and complex glaciated terrain than any other mountain in the lower 48. Combine this with the unpredictability of how high altitude will affect you, and having significant previous experience to draw on will provide a much higher safety margin on any ski descent of Mt. Rainier. A deep well of experience managing these hazards on less complex terrain should be developed before heading to Washington State's highest peak.

Other Safety considerations for planning a ski trip on Mount Rainier:


Team Selection

This is the most important factor to consider when planning a trip to Mount Rainier. The vast majority of terrain on Mount Rainier can be classified as “no fall” territory. Although ski falls may be common and insignificant in a ski resort, all falls on the upper mountain are serious. Simply losing an edge can easily cascade into an unstoppable slide into an open crevasse. Reverting to side-slipping or falling-leaf technique, rather than linked turns, can help maintain control of your ski descent. If anyone in your party has any doubt of their ability to safely ski the route, you must be willing to communicate that and revert to appropriate roped glacier travel techniques - this would include stashing skis low and continuing on foot. If you doubt your ski ability, consider hiring a professional to give you objective feedback in a more controlled environment such as a ski resort or less complex ski mountaineering objective.


Successfully completing a ski descent of Mount Rainier requires individuals and teams who are competent in a broad array of mountain skills. Mountaineering, glacier travel, rope techniques, navigation, and expert-level downhill skiing skills with a heavy backpack are the bare minimum.

Route Selection

There is no easy way to ski from the summit of Mount Rainier. All routes feature complex glacier travel, steep skiing, and long sections of no-fall terrain. Commonly attempted routes include: Emmons-Winthrop, Fuhrer Finger, Kautz Glacier, Success Couloir, and Ingraham Direct. There are many excellent ski descents on the mountain that minimize exposure to crevasses, ice and rock fall, and high altitude. Descents of the Muir Snowfield, Van Trump Snowfields, The Turtle, and Inter Glacier all serve as a nice introduction to the challenges of skiing on Mount Rainier.


One Day vs. Overnight Trips

An increasing number of teams opt for single day attempts; these require exceptional fitness levels. We see many teams that begin their attempt together but slowly get spread out across the upper mountain. This is unacceptable. It is crucial that team members remain within verbal and visual communication at all times. If one party member needs to stop or descend, the group should do the same. Do not leave anyone alone on the mountain. Consider a multi-day attempt so that you can begin your summit attempt rested and focused for the strenuous day ahead. Overnight trips also present better opportunities to time your descent for optimal conditions.

No matter which strategy your party chooses you must register for your climb and pay the climbing fee. More information on that process can be found here.


Weather and Avalanche

When signs of current or developing snow instability are present, the best course of action is to descend immediately from your current location rather than trying to outsmart the avalanche problem. It only takes a small amount of moving snow to knock you off your feet and push you into places that have serious consequences.


Snow Surface Conditions

This is probably the hardest variable to predict when planning a ski descent of Rainier. Snow conditions vary widely across aspect and elevation. The upper mountain rarely features smooth snow surfaces that could be defined as “good” skiing – it is commonly “survival skiing” up high. The surface above high camps is frequently a mix of breakable wind crust, very firm wind packed snow, ice chunks, sastrugi, and refrozen snow. Expect to ski “bad snow” for some or all of every descent. 

Furthermore, it is rare that a ski descent does not require some down climbing. In many cases the decision to transition to crampons and ice axe for a short down climb can be a life-saving event. You must expect that you will need to take off your skis, rope up and climb down intermittently.

Glacier Conditions

As the season progresses, all potential ski descents become more challenging as crevasses open and more ice is exposed. The trend in recent years has been to attempt ski descents earlier in the season to help mitigate these hazards, though this brings increased risk of avalanches, challenging navigation, and more hidden crevasses. Regardless of when a descent is attempted, always ensure that you can see to the bottom of the slope you are on. Convex rolls are classic trigger points for avalanche's and often hide crevasses on their downhill side.


All parties on foot should be roped up to help protect against glacier hazards. This means that transitioning from skiing to booting (or booting to skiing) should be done after roping up and spreading out the team. The greatly reduced surface area of boots compared to skis greatly increases the likelihood of punching through a snow bridge into a crevasse.


Technical Rescue & Rope Considerations

All parties must be competent in crevasse rescue. Every member should wear a climbing harness at all times in the event of a crevasse fall. Carrying two ropes affords a greater safety margin in the event that the person carrying the only rope falls into a crevasse – this risk can be easily mitigated. Many teams opt to bring a single 60m rope, however carrying two ropes per team that are each 30+ meters increases rescue safety margins while having a commonly missed benefit: the ski quality for the party as a whole is increased as no one is skiing with the weight of a 60m of rope in their pack! Each party member should have enough supplies to construct a rescue anchor, rappel into and ascend out of a crevasse, and execute a haul system. All other mountaineering equipment should also be carried, including crampons, ice axe, helmet, navigation, and survival gear.


A ski descent of Rainier can be one of the most rewarding experiences for a competent party but it can quickly turn disastrous for the unskilled or unprepared. The fact that descending on skis is so much faster than on foot allows skiers to get off route and into problematic terrain all that more quickly. Proper planning and a high degree of caution is a prerequisite for a successful ski descent of the mountain.

Friday, June 09, 2023

Single Push Climbing and Permits at Mount Rainier

At Mount Rainier National Park, you are required to obtain a climbing permit if you plan to travel to the summit, above high camps (or ~10,000 ft), or travel on any glaciers. This includes climbing the mountain in a single push without camping, or doing a circumnavigation where you are traveling on glaciers.

What is Single Push Climbing? Climbing to a summit in one push (or attempt) with the intent of not stopping for extended periods of time. A single push can be an excellent way to approach a climb of Mount Rainier if you are well-trained, experienced, and fit enough to do it.  An example would be climbing the Disappointment Cleaver route on Mount Rainier starting and ending in Paradise parking lot within a day. There is continuing to be a trend in single-push style climbing. However, the same three rules still apply to a single push as a standard summit attempt on Mount Rainier! According to the code of federal regulations (36 CFR), to travel on glaciers or above high camps (about 10,000 feet) you need a climbing permit, you must be 18 or have written permission from a guardian, and a summit party must consist of at least two people or have a special solo permit (which requires a separate application and approval process).

What is a climbing permit? A climbing permit is the combination of paying the Annual Cost Recovery Fee and obtaining the appropriate wilderness permit for the specific dates of your trip and then picking up your permit in person at a Mount Rainier National Park Wilderness Information Center. 

The Annual Climbing Cost Recovery Fee at Mount Rainier National Park helps provide for trained rangers to respond to search and rescue incidents, staff ranger stations and high camps to register climbers and provide up-to-date route conditions, and importantly, to remove human waste from the mountain and dispose of it properly. This $65 fee as of 2023 can be paid online before arriving at the park by following the link above and is good for the entire year. You will need to show your PAY.GOV tracking ID from the confirmation email to the rangers in Wilderness Information Centers in order to obtain your physical copy of your climbing permit. 

The Wilderness Permit allows you and your group to camp overnight or move through a general area for a specified set of dates. Even if you are climbing in a single push and not camping, we require that you get a wilderness permit...Why? It is likely that on your climb you may use amenities by stopping at Camp Muir or Camp Schurman to use the toilet, use our premade blue bags, depositing blue bags into blue bag barrels, and interacting with Park Staff in the Wilderness Information Centers in order to get your climbing permit. Additionally, you never know when you might have an unplanned night out on the mountain if something goes wrong. The wilderness permit allows us to track on several things: overdue climbing parties; the solitude of the wilderness area by limiting the number of people on any given route; the limiting people on a route allows spacing between route adjuncts allowing everything to move more fluidly. A wilderness permit is $6 for a walk-up (up to 24 hours in advanced), or $26 for advanced registration for 2023

Northwest side of Mount Rainier on 6/8/23

Permitting Resources:

We look forward to seeing you on the mountain!

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Disappointment Cleaver Update 6/4

It's official! The main climbing route used by independent and guided parties is now the Disappointment Cleaver. There are two sections of the route that have adjuncts - a short handline on the traverse to get onto the Cleaver, and a short handline around 13,700-13,800 ft to get up and over a small vertical section. There are currently no ladders, and the route is pretty straight forward and wanded well. Some snow is still lingering on the Cleaver itself, but not much and not for long! It's currently about 20% snow and 80% rock. The mountain is seeing rapid change with the sun and high freezing levels. Penitentes are prevalent in areas that get a lot of sun such as the traverse onto Cathedral Gap, the Disappointment Cleaver, and the upper Muir snowfield. Crevasses are widening and rock and ice fall zones have been quite active in the last couple of days.

A Route to the Summit via the Disappointment Cleaver

On the Disappointment Cleaver route between 13,500-13,800 feet

What is the route? The route is a path up the mountain, maintained by the guide services for their use with their clients. It is not maintained or monitored in between these trips, it is not maintained by the park, and there is no guarantee that crossings in the route will remain good even through a single day as things are melting and changing. The route can be a relatively accessible way to access the mountain, but it's important that you know how to judge crossings and route finding for yourself on the mountain, beyond just following the footprints you see. The route is a handy tool, but it should never replace your own judgement!

What are reroutes? As the cracks melt and widen on the mountain, the route will move to accommodate these changes. If you see crossed wands over the route, this means that there is a hazard, likely a melted-out crossing, up ahead. Even if there is a clear boot pack continuing underneath those wands, that boot pack is an earlier iteration. The crossed wands are a sign to look for new routes, evaluate crevasse crossings in the area, and ensure your own safety as an independent group. You will likely also be encountering these crossings in the dark during your climb, which makes careful navigation and judgement of terrain even more critical.

Overview of the Disappointment Cleaver from 6-3-2023

Skiing: Many skiers are still making their way to Camp Muir. Conditions skiing down the Muir snowfield are challenging with runnels, sun cups, and penitentes. In other words, it is a really bumpy and a challenging ski. It is not recommended to try and ski on the upper mountain in the Muir corridor due to poor surface conditions and large crevasses. We have seen many parties hike their skis to the summit just to hike them back down again. 

Penitentes forming on the upper mountain.