Thursday, May 30, 2024

Upper Mountain Conditions Photos from 5/23

Success Couloirs (Center)

Kautz Ice cliff (Center Right)

Russell Cliffs and Curtis Ridge (Willis Wall in the background)

Willis Wall and Liberty Ridge

Ptarmigan Ridge (Center)

Thursday, May 23, 2024

In Depth Route Descriptions

Hey, everyone!

We wanted to take a moment and make sure you checked out a few new documents we produced over the last couple of years.  These four 20-30 page documents detail what we want you to know about climbing the Disappointment Cleaver, the Emmons-Winthrop Glacier, the Kautz Glacier, and the Liberty Ridge routes.
Each route guide contains details on:
  • Route History
  • Route Use and Statistics
  • Case Studies in Rescues
  • SAR Occurrences and Statistics
  • Weather Statistics, Forecasting and Resources
  • Assessing and Managing Risk
  • How to Train
  • What to Bring
  • Search and Rescue Program
  • Explanation of Climbing Fees
  • Leave No Trace and Wilderness Protection
  • Permitting and Reservations
  • Ski Mountaineering
  • PreClimb Briefing
  • Physical Route Descriptions
  • Further Reading

Muir Route Climbing Conditions Update


May 23st, 2024

This blog is maintained by the MRNP Climbing Ranger team for use by recreational non-guided climbers. Use these reports as a baseline, but plan for changing conditions.



Winter of 2024 has brought slightly warmer than average temperatures, resulting in seasonable snowfall on the upper and mid mountain, with the lower mountain below average. Currently the snow line is at about 4,500 feet. There have been periods of warm clear days in both in April and in May allowing for climbers to successfully reach the summit, followed by periods of weather bringing in new snow to mid and upper elevations. The main hazards with the stormy spring include:

                +Avalanche hazard

                +White out conditions

                +And the typical hazards of rock fall and crevasse fall


Muir Route

The path to the Muir route up the Muir snowfield currently follows the winter trail above Paradise, ascends Panorama Face to gain the snowfield and continues to the climbers right of the summer trail. With new snowfall covering existing tracks navigation is made difficult and with models forecasting more storms to come, climbers should be prepared for navigating the Muir Snowfield and upper mountain in whiteout conditions.

Above Camp Muir the route has seen little traffic between weather openings and the climb to Cathedral gap is covered in snow. Climbers should be prepared to shorten their rope spacing after getting off the Cowlitz glacier in order to reduce risk of tangling ropes with other teams if a fall were to occur.

A view of Little Tahoma from Ingraham Flats

 The route above Ingraham Falls currently ascends the Disappointment Cleaver. The path is clear of any major cracks and gaining the Cleaver is straightforward. Here too teams should be ready to shorten rope spacing. There is a fixed line and carved foot path leading all the way across the exposed traverse to the Nose. From here an additional 500’ of fixed line follows a vertical boot pack. The path continues on snow with occasional exposed rock to the top of the cleaver.

The route above the cleaver has some fixed snow pickets in place. Inspect these before use and be sure to leave them in place, including the attached carabiners. Above 13,500’ the route cuts left towards the upper Ingraham Glacier. From here the route switchbacks a few times and moves along the south side of the crater rim. Currently there are a few major crevasse crossings over snow bridges and no ladders in place. Climbers should assess each snow bridge crossing on the way up and on the way down the mountain. For specifics on the climbing route please reference the NPS route briefing packet- Disappointment Cleaver- Ingraham Direct

Large crevasses on the upper Disappointment Cleaver 

The Paradise Wilderness Information Center (PWIC) is scheduled to open on the weekend of May 24th, with the Longmire Wilderness Information Center handling climbing permits on weekdays until May 30th.  After which the PWIC will be open daily from 07:30-17:00. Till then climbers will continue self registration in the PWIC, at the self registration box. Also please remember to pay the annual climbing cost recovery fee.


Wednesday, May 15, 2024

DC Route Conditions 05/13/24

 Rangers departed Camp Muir this morning to check on the conditions of the Disappointment Cleaver route. Temperatures reached below freezing that night with a low at 29.0 Fahrenheit at Camp Muir which produced firm and efficient travel conditions. Winds were variable but increased to strong, on the upper mountain.

The Ingraham glacier had a few tracks but the glacier is widely broken around 11,700’. And most parties appear to be traveling via the Disappointment Cleaver route.  

Ingraham and DC from Dunns Roll 5/13/24

Crevasse at 11,700’ on the Ingraham 5/11/24

Same Crevasse on the Ingraham on 5/13/24

As parties move from Ingraham Flats up towards the traverse out to the DC they will find a few crevasses beginning to pop out, the biggest being High Crack. 

High Crack 5/13/24

Climbers will find fixed adjuncts as they climb onto the cleaver itself, these are intended for use but as always inspect before using at the sun's radiation can loosen passive protection in the snow.  

Fixed adjuncts on the DC 5/13/24

The DC proper has very little rock exposed currently which creates smooth and efficient travel conditions.
Looking up the Dc 5/13/24

Looking down the DC towards Little Tahoma 5/13/24

Crevasse at 13,200’ 5/13/24

As always reference a mountain weather forecast when making a trip plan for climbing on Mount Rainier. If you are staying at Camp Muir Rangers are always excited to chat with climbers regarding route conditions as well as weather info - or when you pass through the Wilderness Information Centers.

Lastly don’t forget that to climb above 10,000’ permits are required, this is being done as a self registration process at the old station at Paradise until Memorial Day weekend. Additionally each member will need to have paid the annual Climbing Cost Recovery Fee

Self Register at the Old Station, Labeled Paradise Ranger Station

Climbers approaching Ingraham Flats 5/13/24


Thursday, May 09, 2024

South Side Mountain Conditions 05/09/202

Climbing rangers patrolled up to Camp Muir this morning to check out the conditions of the mountain and observe the snowpack as the temperatures begin to heat up. A reported 40cms of new snow at 6000ft fell during 05/04-05/06, though totals are much deeper at higher elevations. Doors to the shelters at Muir had to be excavated to access the buildings today. Sustained moderate E winds with strong gusts kept the snowpack firmer than expected on the way up, though was not enough to keep the heat off the snow all day. Ski quality was grabby to say the least...

Numerous wet avalanches were observed both in motion, or just after occurrence around 2pm today, mainly on E to S aspects. Numerous D1 Wet Loose were observed on all aspects. 

The first notable crown observed was a D2.5 wet slab seen in a S facing bowl, 7000ft elevation around 8am. 

At the same time, an estimated D1.5 crown was observed in Gib Chute, on a SE facing panel. 

The next was a D1.5 wet slab observed on an E facing ridge above the Nisqually, 7000ft around 9:30am.

We estimate these three ran sometime in the last 12 hours from observation. 

On the descent, a D2 wet loose was observed in motion on Denman Peak, 5500ft E, 2:18pm. 

A D2.5 Glide avalanche occurred off the NW shoulder of Pinnacle Peak and was observed slightly after the wet loose on Denman. 

Around 3pm, multiple new D2 pockets of Wind Slab were observed on the ridge above the Kautz, ~13000ft, SW. 

We are observing the beginning of a shed cycle after the recent storm. Wet slides are occurring at lower elevations, while the upper mountain is presenting us with a winter environment. The freezing levels are forecasted to rise to 13000ft tonight and stay there for the weekend. The mountain does not currently have a 'spring snowpack'. It could be a very dynamic weekend for the snowpack on the mountain. Please use your avalanche training and education to make appropriate terrain management decisions.