Kautz Glacier - Archive

Kautz Glacier Route Condition Archive - July 22nd

This trip report begins at Paradise. From the Deadhorse Creek Trail (near the Jackson Visitor Center) take the Moraine Trail to Alta Vista. Descend to the lateral moraine of the Nisqually Glacier and onto the Nisqually Glacier. Cross the Nisqually Glacier to the base of the fan. A few small cracks do exist, but the glacier is still mostly covered with snow.

The fan remains in acceptable condition but keep in mind that it's prone to rock fall, so wear your helmet! There is some snow in the gulley, which meant tunning water... a good place to fill up!

Either climb the steep snow slopes to Wapowety Cleaver or stay on the Wilson Glacier. Several rock islands exist on the Wilson Glacier that provide running water and more opportunities to fill up. Either way you choose, both options come together at about 8550 feet below a prominent rock buttress.

If you camp in this vicinity (there are a number of sites) try to camp on snow, or use an established rock wall. "The Turtle" snowfield begins at about 9400 feet. Warm and wet snow conditions exist on the snowfield punctuated with patches of slick, icy snow. Keep in mind that the Turtle is exposed to the Kautz Ice Cliff above. Keep an eye out and stay to the west (climbers' left.)

Camp Hazard (at about 11,150 feet) has several rock-rings here that make good campsites. The traverse ledge onto the Kautz is only 100 feet from these campsites.
The traverse onto the Kautz via this ledge is melted out. There were some old fixed ropes that we used for the rappel, but we did belay from above! The rappel is about 30 feet and ends in a steep snow gulley near some softer snow to which you can easily traverse. See image....

Remember to move quickly once you begin the climb into the chute. This section is known for ice fall activity! The first pitch
is about 45 degrees, and we protected it with running belays with ice screws; it's about two rope lengths long but gets longer as the snow melts.

The second pitch is steeper, reaching 50 degrees. The ice section was about 60 meters in length on July 22nd, but we're sure that pitch is longer now as the snow over the remaining
ice was very thin. There are no fixed lines in the chute.

Above the chute, the angle lessens considerably (12,100 feet.) We crossed a few crevasses on Kautz (all had solid bridges) and ascended to the top of Wapowety Cleaver. We stayed right, skirting the rocks, along the cleaver to 13,150 feet.

A good route out onto the upper Nisqually is not really an option this year because of crevasses and seracs. Therefore we went back out onto the middle of the Kautz Glacier heading more or less directly to Point Success. In the middle of the Kautz, we ascended straight up the slope. We attained the eastern ridge line of Point Success at about 14,040 feet after crossing only a few minor crevasses.

From here a direct line can be made across the divide between the summit crater and Point Success up to the Columbia Crest.

~ Stefan Lofgren, Tom Payne, and Peter Jewell

July 17th

The Nisqually was in great shape, and we were able to avoid "The Fan" without any problems. We camped around 10,000 feet on "The Turtle" and had great views of Fuhrer Finger (which looks like it's about done for the season). The Kautz Ice chutes were a little messy, but we were able to access the first pitch without any problems. The lower pitch was very straight forward and easy/moderate. The second pitch, however, was quite icy with lots of debris blowing down on us. We had 5 ice screws and a second tool, which allowed us to simul-climb the section without problem. There is fixed line on the pitch, but we didn't trust it (we did throw a jumar on it for backup).

The upper mountain is in great shape with wands and a boot track all the way to the summit. We carried over and came down the DC which RMI has once again done a great job of maintaining (kudos to them). Overall a great climb.

~ Narrative and photos by Martin Benning

July 14th

Climbing rangers Adrienne Sherred and Paul Charlton made it to 11,500 on the Kautz before being turned around by high winds. They report that the approach remains in good shape, and while most parties are approaching via the Nisqually and Wilson glaciers, the Fan is also in good shape. There is a fixed line in the rock step that descends from Camp Hazard, although it seems solid everyone should use their own judgment before using gear of unknown origin. From visual observation the Kautz Chute appears to have about two pitches of steeper ice. Ice Screws would be recommended for this route and teams may want to think about bringing two tools apiece, especially for the leader.

One problem that we are finding on this route especially, is that people are not packing out their blue bags. This is a major problem in that it is not only unsightly but leads to sanitation problems. Please be considerate of this wilderness area and other climbers and pack out all trash and waste with you. There are deposit barrels for blue bags at Camp Muir, Paradise, and the overnight parking area.

July 10th

Conditions on the Kautz Glacier remain excellent. Mark Connel and Rob Yang approached via the Nisqually Glacier, avoiding the Fan (due to the large amount of debris). There are a few exposed crevasses, but they are easy to see and negotiate. Early in the day, snow conditions were excellent for cramponing but softened quite a bit by late morning.

The shortcut to the Kautz Chute is easy to find, as were tracks leading up the Wapowety Cleaver. There are also several bivy sites near the top of the rock step. There is a fixed rope at the step, (it appeared safe, but no guarantees.) On the way back reclimbing the rock step required a few feet of steep ice followed by a couple easy rock moves - doable with one tool and crampons. When the ice melts, the climbing will be more difficult. Prussiking the fixed rope is an option (but you'll have to trust or refix the ropes.) Some advice, while waiting for your partner to climb the step, do not stand below them as there is a lot of loose rock.

As for the ice in the Kautz Chute... The first pitch was straightforward (with some glacier snow.) The second pitch, however, was a solid piece of ice. We were able to protect it with screws and a few questionable pickets near the top. Many teams bring two tools per person and will probably use a belay. We rapped this pitch on the descent (using a single 50m rope which meant 3 raps.) We slung an ice horn for one rap, and left a bail screw on another. We didn't trust the ice for a v-thread due to the amount of water running down the face!

The upper part of the route has few crevasses. The route is well wanded and has a well-defined boot track starting at the base of the ice chute.

~ Mark Connell/Rob Yang

July 5th

Even with mediocre weather over the 4th of July weekend, numerous teams successfully summitted the Kautz Glacier route. The conditions remain excellent and almost all teams are reporting enjoyable climbing.

On the approach, be mindful of human impacts on the vegetation as you leave the Paradise meadows and descend to the Nisqually Glacier. Teams should continue to use the Skyline trail to Glacier Vista then head directly down the snow to the Nisqually Glacier. Keep in mind that the snow is melting out quickly near Glacier Vista; be careful not to destroy fragile plants while descending to the snow. The other option to approach the Nisqually is via the Moraine Trail, which most climbers will probably need to switch to in the next few weeks 1.

Many parties continue to approach the Turtle snowfield directly from the upper Nisqually glacier, bypassing the Fan. Both routes are in good shape with full snow cover and boot tracks. Few crevasses are showing on the Nisqually Glacier, but take precautions.

Most climbers are using the shortcut to the Kautz Chute on the west side of Wapowety Cleaver at about 11,000 ft. This allows for a direct route into the main chute of the Kautz Glacier. On the 4th, there was a boot track there. This variation is recommended as it greatly minimizes your time underneath the Kautz Ice Cliff. Look for large rocks with a rope wrapped around them as you approach 11,000 feet. People are using this to help them get down the 20' rock step; no one guarantees the security of this rope as we did not put it there.

Conditions in the Kautz Chute remain good: 60 degree ice with thin snow cover. Come prepared with a plan for both the ascent and descent in this section.

Above the chute, the glacier conditions are straightforward with few major crevasses en route to the summit. There is a boot path with some wands but be ready to deal with routefinding during whiteout conditions or inclement weather. Due to the lenticular clouds which cloaked the mountain for much of this past week, many encountered whiteouts from 13,000' up.

~ Thomas Payne, Paul Charlton

For archived information on the Kautz Glacier, look here.

Nisqually Icecliff, Cleaver and Glacier

Nisqually Icefall and Nisqually Cleaver - July

It's been a warm summer, these routes are done for the season, but fun to think about for next year!

June 7th

A three-person team climbed the Nisqually Cleaver last Wednesday. Erik Jacobson and his partners did it in a single push, car to car in about 17 hours. He shared some images and said,
"The route was hard snow and in excellent condition. Rock and ice fall was minimal while we were on the route (6-10am)."
Similar to earlier ascents this year, except,

"more direct with less traversing, perhaps better coverage... we went directly towards the summit...[when] High winds and clouds hit us."
The team descended via Gib Chute, which is often considered direct and easy... That said, climbers should be warned that much of the chute is exposed to rock and ice fall. An accident there could be catastrophic. Look at the aerial image below and you'll notice avalanche debris.

June 3rd

Another image of the route. This one clearly shows how broken the Nisqually Glacier is. The Nisqually Cleaver and Gib Chute, however, look excellent. Note icefall debris from the Nisqually ice cliff. Climbers are reminded to move quickly while in the upper Nisqually Basin.

Nisqually Icecliff - May 15th

It was climbed this weekend and the route still looks great. Two climbers left early on Monday and made good time getting up the technical sections. Access to the route went very smoothly. There was a short steep step to get off the glacier and onto the ice cliff.

From that lower bergshrund, the team climbed 40-50 ice/snow to the upper Nisqually. The climbers stated that the most time consuming and dangerous part of the route was the upper Nisqually Glacier. They encountered a number of dicey crevasse crossings. Note that their climbing line did not connect w/ the upper portion of the DC route till almost 13,500 feet.

Nisqually Icefall

Forget it. Well, I suppose that someone could do this route, but I can't say it's worth the risk."A route"up the glacier would be very circuitous and dangerous. Note massive slides.

Photo by Mike Gauthier

Gibraltar Ledges and Gibraltar Chute

July 13

With the sunny weather we have been having the snow is pretty much gone from the ledges. This route would now go over loose rock and cliff areas for significant distances, where protection would be very difficult. Rockfall hazards would also be high.

Gibraltar Ledges - June 27

The ledges is melting out fast. I was able to look down on it this weekend, and it looks like the middle of the Ledges is all rock. Getting on and off the ledges is still snow. This rock section would be very difficult to protect and very loose in the warm weather. I think that there are a few hearty souls out there who would still have fun on this route, but be prepared for a technical challenge with lots of loose rock.

Last week on Wednesday,
Stanislav Zinkov climbed the ledges and had this to say:

"Conditions were great. There were steps kicked in and visible for about half of the route. The Ledge itself has melted out a lot. Weended up walking on rocks with crampons on in several sections."

- Andy Anderson - Photo by

Gibraltar Ledges and Gibraltar Chute Route Conditions
- June 11th

Several climbers made it up Gib ledges last weekend, and a team of rangers climbed Gib Chute. Here is climbing ranger Arlington's account of his climb of Gib Chute with Hannah:

"We began the climb in clear weather and calm winds under a full moon. We approached the Nisqually Basin along the west side of the Cowlitz Cleaver with a very firm crust underfoot. We made our way to the base of the chute staying far climbers right. I found this to be a nice, fairly direct high line that avoids the large crevasse field in the runout of the chute. The snow was good until we reached the hourglass, where it became generally rotten. Above the pinch, the snow conditions improved. After a short rest at Camp Comfort, we continued on a direct line towards the summit. The crevasse issues along the way were minor. The snow bridges were strong and easy to scout. The 'shrund at 14,000 feet did not pose a problem. The weather on the summit was clear and calm and after a brief rest Hannah and I strapped on our skis and snowboard for a speedy descent off the summit via the Ingraham Direct route."
June 6th

This report on Gib Chute came from the climber on the Kautz Glacier

"My original plan was to ski Fuhrer Finger, but I was unsure of the exact place to begin dropping down. Instead I headed for the biggest landmark on that side of the Mountain, Gib Rock. The turns up high were fairly firm with the occasional bumpy rimed section, but overall quite good for the upper slopes.

Once at 12,600' I decided to have a look at the Chute if only to appease my curiosity and found that it didn't look overly difficult. The top few inches of mush threatened to slide, so I began sidestepping down the steepest section and through the hourglass ( which was almost exactly the width of my skis). I set off a small sluff that crept partway down, and then made easy turns on good snow all the way to the bergschrund, at which point I traversed high along the Cowlitz Cleaver staying above all the cracks.

The upper [Muir] Snowfield was awesome corn that gave way to sticky glop below Pebble Creek.

June 1st

Not much new to report, but here is an image to provide inspiration.

Numerous climbers have been ascending and descending this classic line. All have pretty much said the same thing, "What a great route, and it's in GREAT shape." They are reporting firm snow conditions and excellent cramponing. A few have commented that there is little to protect the thin traverse, which is roughly 1/2 way up the ledges. Also, there is a great boot track up the Cowlitz Glacier from Camp Muir. Most teams are now descending the DC.

Fuhrer Finger and Wilson Headwall

Fuhrer Finger Route Conditions - July 22

A recent patrol to the Kautz Glacier spied some worsening conditions on the Fuhrer Finger. There is now a small rocky section at the hourglass. The rocks looked loose and "unstuck" during the mid-day heat. Above the finger itself was a rocky outcropping which has been dropping some debris onto the route - giving it a dirty appearance. Be aware that conditions changed from good to poor on this route in seven days! Things are changing quickly on the mountain with hot weather. Look for more of the finger's snow to melt away to rock in the late July and August weather.

July 16

Iain Morris over on Cascade Climbers.com posted a nice report.

The Fuhrer Finger route is still in for the moment, although with the warm temps the snow has been melting fast. Climbing rangers Paul and Adrienne were able to make good visual observations of this route while traversing the Wilson glacier in route to the climb the Kautz. The couloir is still all snow, but expect conditions to change rapidly as the snow continues to melt. Rockfall is a big hazard in the couloir so climbers should start early to avoid the increase in rockfall that will happen as the sun hits the upper part of the route. Once climbers have exited the main couloir they will have the choice of ascending close to the rock ridge or traversing out onto the main part of the Nisqually. Crevasses have been opening up fast so be prepared for some challenging route finding once you are on the glacier.

The approaches are still straightforward for the most part. Most parties have been reaching the high camp at 9,200 on the Wilson by ascending the Nisqually, although from recent reports the fan appears to be in good shape, mostly snow with a small rock band in the middle. The bridges around Comet Falls are now all passable if you decide to approach from that direction through Van Trump Park.

July 9

What a treat, the Finger is still in, and it is almost mid July. The west side of the Wilson glacier offers a great straight-forward approach to the base of the Finger. It is easy to get onto the Wilson by going up from Van Trump Park (one of the bridges on the Comet Falls Trail is still out so this makes things a little trickier) or by crossing the Nisqually and ascending the Fan. The Fan is a bit rocky so watch out for rock fall and move quickly up this section.

There are some great camps between 9000' and 9500' on the Wilson that provide wonderful access to the Finger. In the couloir there is still great snow and several parties have been climbing the route so there may even be steps kicked if you are lucky. Rocks love to rain down the couloir at all times of day, but they are most active when the sun starts warming up the rock walls that border the couloir. The best way to avoid these missles is to climb early when they are less active and to move fast. Above the couloir there are two route choices: hugging the rock ridge or going out to the middle of the Nisqually and climbing up the glacier. The route closer to the routes has more open crevasses to negotiate and some of these require short steps of steep climbing. Out on the glacier the route is more straight forward. The snow bridges on the upper mountain have been collapsing so be ready for some crevasse rescue if you are traveling this way.

-Andy Anderson

July 2

We departed Camp Muir at approximately 0400 hours, descending the Muir Snowfield approximately 1000 ft. to the uppermost rock outcropping on the snowfield. From this point at the edge of the glacier we roped up and descended a steep chute between the broken seracs of the glacier and the rock cliff. The descent was fairly straightforward with minimal weaving around crevasses. If you scope out the line the day before in the daylight then doing it the next morning should be no problem. If you donĂ‚’t (we didnĂ‚’t), the descent feels steeper than it actually is (35 degrees, snow) because there appear to be some very large crevasses beneath you.

After dropping a few hundred feet, we traversed through a broken section of the glacier to reach the smooth, main body of the Nisqually glacier. This was roughly the level with the bottom of the Nisqually Cleaver (unknown elevation). Traversing the Nisqually was the most challenging part of the climb, it took some tricky maneuvering between crevasses and on ice-bridges. Much of the walking was on ice with occasional belays and one ice screw used for protection.

The Finger itself remains in excellent condition, with uninterrupted snow from bottom to top. There is a noticeable boot path leading from the Turtle Snowfield and the prominent bivy rock near the Turtle. There is minor exposure to icefall from the Wilson Headwall approaching from this camp, and there are few open crevasses too.

Once in the Finger we found no ice, no running water, no exposed rocks, and minimal rockfall. I saw one golfball-sized rock fall in the two hours I could see the finger. However, after the sun had warmed the rocks on the sides of the Finger it seemed like more rocks could start to fall. The freezing level during the morning of our climb was 13,000 ft; the snow was frozen and solid.

Above the top of the Finger we returned to the Nisqually Glacier. The easiest route leads out into the middle portion of the glacier, away from the edge and travels smoothly all the way to the crater rim. We walked into a cloud cap at 12,000 ft so visibility was minimal. An old but still visible set of deep boot tracks (kicked in during some hot weather over a week ago; not comfortable to walk in) helped reassure us that we were indeed heading the right direction. It seemed that intersected the top of the Kautz route somewhere near the crater rim because a series of wands appeared. We topped out uncomfortably in a cloud with moderate winds then descended the DC.

People can still ski the FF if they choose. Overall it was in much better condition than it appears from the Muir Snowfield. Because above the top of the Finger the route traverses in the center of the glacier, routefinding is not straightforward in a whiteout; in clear conditions it is probably easy.

Safe camp sites can still be found both on the lower Turtle and on the glacier beneath the start of the Finger. Regarding the DC, everything remains safe and fast. The route is easily identified by its deep boot trough, courtesy of parties descending in late in the day during the recent warm weather. The only exposed rock on the Cleaver is at the nose. The traverse itself is flat with minimal difficulties transitioning from glacier to rock. Up high there are no major open crevasses to speak of, though on the current trail one small hop is required to pass a crevasse at 13,000 feet.

June 27

The Fuhrer has been seeing almost as much climbing activity as rock fall activity! Most people are approaching via the Nisqually Glacier and avoiding the fan. This is a shorter and more straight forward approach so take advantage of it before the Nisqually breaks up. The chute is in great shape and the snow is nice and firm in the morning. As soon as the sun hits the rocks on the Wilson Cleaver rockfall becomes a big hazard in the chute. One party was descending a little late in the morning and had to hunker down against the wall until nightfall to avoid the continuous stream of rocks during the day.

Above the chute there are two options for continuing to the summit. One is the standard way of hugging the rocks on the Wilson Cleaver until you meet up with the Kautz. The other route is to cross over onto the central Nisqually and follow the Nisqually to the Summit. The Wilson Cleaver way is rockier but will remain in shape longer. Right now there are hardly any crevasses exposed on the Nisqually, and it provides a more straighforward way to the summit. Watch out for holes openning up as the temperatures stay warm.

At least one group skied back down the Finger this week check out their photos and trip report here.

Jim Couch had this to say about his recent climb:"Snow conditions on the route were excellent - well frozen and consolidated the entire morning. The route was very straightforward all the way to meeting up with the Kautz Glacier route.

The upper Kautz was also very straightforward all the way to the summit. The route is relatively direct from 13000' clear to the summit weaving only slightly to avoid a few crevasses and ice falls."

Fuhrer Finger and Wilson Headwall - June 8th

I'm begining to wonder if I should add the Fuhrer Finger conditions report to the Kautz related routes... They all seem to see similiar activity...

That said, with the FF, comes the Wilson Headwall. Here is a report from Sky, who happened to climb and SKI the route...

"Easy access to the route, just start to the left... Fun route, lots of 40-degreeish snow. Climbed through the rock bands up and right, turning a corner above the Nisqually near the top [of the Wilson Headwall.]

The ski descent was simply marvelous. A bit icy in several spots on the upper half of the route, including the traverse to skier's right below the ice cliff, then unbelievably perfect corn the rest of the way."

And here's the best part...

"12.5 hours car to car... what a fun day!"

Here is a mid May climbing report for Gibraltar Ledges

Let's face it, Mizuki Takahashi is having a good year on Rainier. She had fun soloing Gib Ledges this spring in prep for Mount Hunter.

Kautz Glacier - Archive

Kautz Glacier Route Conditions - June 27th

At least 8 parties of climbers made it up the Kautz this weekend. Most of these teams are camping between 10000' - 11000' on the Turtle. At the 11000' camp there is a shortcut straight over to the base of the chute. This saves you from having to go up to Hazard and then back down around the toe of the ice cliff. That means you don't have to be exposed to the ice fall for quite as long! This week the upper part of the Kautz Chute has become icy. The first steep pitch is still snow but many parties report that the steepest parts of the upper pitch are 60 degree ice. Almost everyone is taking two tools and some screws to protect this pitch.

Jim Couch recently used the Kautz as a descent from the Fuhrer Finger. He had this to say about the route and his team's approach via the Nisqually Glacier and the Wilson Glacier:

"I have never seen the mountain this time of year with so few crevasses! We climbed to high camp (9200' on Wapowety Cleaver) on Saturday. Camp was approached directly via the Nisqually/Wilson glaciers instead of the fan. the approach was extremely straightforward with no open crevasses to deal with. I highly recommend this approach over the fan right now!

The upper Kautz was also very straightforward all the way to the summit. The route is relatively direct clear to the summit weaving only slightly to avoid a few crevasses and ice falls."

~ Andy Anderson

June 17th

Teams have been successfully ascending the route over the past week. Some have elected to camp near 9,500' (give or take a few hundred feet) and do the entire climb from there. Others climb up to 11,300' at Camp Hazard. For those camping there, be cautious, as this location is exposed to catastrophic icefall potential.

Here is a recent report of conditions in the ice chute:

"The first pitch had/has lots of deep, firm snow, so it was easy going. The second pitch is worthy of a note though... the normal line follows a natural curve/bowl in the slope to the right of center, where it is less steep. [We] followed the older boot path the went far left of center up a much steeper angle. The crux was about 45 - 50 feet up [the slope] where I found about 2 to 4 inches of soft snow covering the hard glacier ice. I had to front point and use a second tool for about 30 - 40 feet... angle was about 60 degrees."

Tony Kahler also wanted to share that,

  • The weather can turn from crystal clear summer conditions to whiteout winter blizzard conditions in a matter of a few hours,
  • Wands are not the standard on remote routes, but navigation and route finding is,
  • The need for some technical knowledge like belaying, rappelling, placing protection, and different climbing techniques may be necessary, and
  • Pre climb preparation is crucial. (I had made topos with GPS coords, compass bearings, and aerial photos before the trip.)

June 6th

This report just in concerning the Kautz Headwall. It has some Fuhrer Finger and Kautz Glacier access information:

Crossing the Nisqually to the Fan was very straightforward; no cracks are visible yet. The Fan consisted of sloppy postholing with plenty of wet slide debris.

Tracks were easy to follow to the base of the Turtle, where I began traversing left to drop down onto the Kautz Glacier. An easy snow ramp granted access to the [Kautz] glacier, which is also well filled-in. Snow conditions quickly changed from firm cramponing to boot-top trailbreaking in fairly unconsolidated snow and persisted all the way to Point Success. I took a direct line up through the rockbands, preferring the shorter icy sections (thin coverage) rather than end-running the obstacles. At the last cliffband below PS I climbed a steep section of shattering rime over loose snow over rock with big exposure - what an exit! Some more postholing led to Success and I was finally able to put on the skis.

June 1st

Glenn Kessler reports that the Kautz route looks very inviting with its fresh coat of recent snow. A closeup look of the ice gully and the pitches above it from the air showed a relatively clean route with few obtacles. The approach up the Turtle is well-covered in unconsolidated snow. With a few melt-freeze cycles and a bit of consolidation of the upper-mountain snowpack, this route is most definitely "in".

May - 12th

Climbers have been avoiding "The Fan" and ascending the west side of the Nisqually Glacier (which was easily crossed.) You can see the route in the center (or center left) of this May 10 image. Crossing the Wilson Glacier was relatively easy for this party, since few crevasses had opened. There are about 10 snow free campsites near Camp Hazard between 9,400 feet and 11,600 feet.

As for the ice sections, there was one steep section of ice, (10 feet) followed by another 200 foot section (though not as steep.) From there to the summit was rather straight forward, but watch out for crevasses. Thanks Francis Tapon for the report and image.

Ptarmigan Ridge - Archive

June 3rd

We don't have any route condition reports for Ptarmigan Ridge. Jeff Ward, below, describes his findings on a recent attempt. In the meantime, we are still offering
images. The first two aerial images of the climbing route were shot on May 30. Both are close ups of the technical cruxes.

The second images show the exit gullies above Mowich Face.

Here is Ptarmigan Ridge on May 18th.

Photos by Mike Gauthier

And this, from Jeff Ward...

"Just a quick update of our attempt on Ptarmigan 5/28 - 5/30. We did not have enough time for the new snow from the previous storm to settle. We had knee to mid-thigh trail breaking above 8,000. We camped at 10,100 but did not make it onto the route. Pit results around 10,000' showed easy to very easy results in the upper snowpack. The bond to the old snow was good but several layers in the new snow gave us concerns. Evidence of natural slab activity in the new snow was observed at numerous sites from 7,000' to 12,800' on NE, N, and NW aspects."

Tahoma Glacier - Archive June 2006

Tahoma Glacier Route Conditions - July 17th

A climbing ranger team found excellent conditions on the Tahoma Glacier while climbing the route on July 15-16. Their party traversed onto the eastern edge of the Tahoma Glacier at 9,000 ft from the area above glacier island. Teams choosing to approach this climb from the east (via the Tahoma Creek trail or via the lower Success Cleaver and the South Tahoma Glacier) will find straightforward routefinding and easy access to the center of the Tahoma Glacier at 10,000 ft.

For parties approaching the climb from the west, the lower reaches of the glacier are not yet overly crevassed so between 7,000 ft. and 9,000 ft. look for snow ramps which will allow you to drop off Puyallup Cleaver onto the main body of the Tahoma.

Approaching the Tahoma via St. Andrews Rock appeared to be the least recommended of the three approach options. The saddle above upper St. Andrews Rock has large crevasses that seem to block off this high approach to the main body of the Tahoma.

Both of the lower approaches meet in the center of the glacier at approximately 10,000 ft. From there, navigate around and through several large crevasse fields. The routefinding is not difficult but do be aware of seracs and other ice blocks which sometimes threaten the most obvious path.
Above 11,000 ft. the route ascends a direct corridor in the glacier to the broad slopes leading to the summit. No ice was encountered at any point on the route.

The Sickle variation also seems passable though not as straightforward as the Tahoma proper. Scope the potential danger of serac fall from the climbers' right side of the Sickle before you choose to ascend this variation.

This is a beautiful part of the mountain. PLEASE do your part to keep it clean. If you come across trash from a previous party and have any room in your packs, please respect the mountain and carry the trash out with you. Enjoy your trip.

~ Paul Charlton and Adrienne Sherred

July 11th

This recent photo was taken by a climbing ranger patrol. The Tahoma Glacier route and The Sickle both seemed to be quiet (no ice or rock fall in the area) and looked passable. A climbing party reported that they summited on July 8th via the Tahoma Glacier route. They also reported other parties were leaving human waste and trash at the base camp - PLEASE REMEMBER TO PACK OUT EVERYTHING YOU PACK IN. The Sickle seemed skinnier from a distance this year as opposed to last year's fat conditions. Wild flowers along the approach seemed ready to burst into full bloom any day. Enjoy!

~ Andy "A-Two" Anderson and Thomas Payne

June 27, 2006

Numerous teams have been successfully summiting this route over the past few weeks and they all seem to think the route is in good shape. This editted report below came in from Josh Josephson.

We climbed the hourglass; it is in great shape. The icecliff above the lower sickle was very active, dumping large loads. Twice it swept the route all the way to Upper Saint Andrews bivi area.

Cramponing was reliably firm on the upper slopes. One team left however and had a terrible time postholing. The majority of bridges on the route appeared relativley solid... no droopers yet. No ice screws were necessary; parties used pickets for running belays and/or simul-climbing when needed.

We approached via the Tahoma Creek trail... and through the "washed-out" section. It was reasonable to negotiate and is still faster than going around "Round Pass."

The photo is of Rachel Lloyd in the Hourglass by Josh Josephson.

Early June

Parties are reporting it to be in g
ood shape and full of great climbing. There have been a few large wet avalanches near the route and there is some debris to cross. The lower section of the Tahoma has some open crevasses to weave around, but the upper route is very direct and fun. Be careful getting onto the Sickle because there is an ice cliff that sits above the base of the Sickle. So get out there and have fun - and when you come back drop us a note!
~ Andy Anderson

June 1st

Again, no route reports yet, but the conditions look fabulous. Here is an aerial image taken on May 31st by Mike Gauthier.

Ingraham Direct - Archive

Ingraham Direct - July 5th

No parties have been on the Ingraham Direct for the past week or so due to the growing size of crevasses. Large seracs have also become unstable at about 11,200 feet adding to objective hazard on the route. From the picture of the Disappointment Cleaver updated July 5th, it is easy to see why route finding early in the morning could be a bear on the Ingraham Direct, and why parties have been choosing to climb the cleaver.

~Thomas Payne and Paul Charlton

June 26

The Ingraham Direct is still in great shape. Extremely warm temperatures this week are melting things out quickly, so take advantage of this route while it is still in. The ID is definitely a more technical route than the DC right now, so make sure your crevasse rescue and glacier navigation skills are dialed.
Access the route just above Ingraham Flats, off the traverse that heads towards the Cleaver. Keep your rope tight through this section, as it is melting out quickly and there are lots of crevasses opening up.

There is a large crevasse around 11,500' that has turned most parties around. We were able to skirt around the right side of the crevasse on a steep ramp of snow that traversed under an icefall.

Move quickly through this section! There are two options once you reach 12,000 feet; you can traverse over to the top of the cleaver and reconnect with the DC or you can avoid the crowds and continue up the Ingraham Direct. This section of the route was straightforward, with one steep, short pitch of 45 degrees around 12,500'. --Adrienne Sherred - photos by Andy Anderson

June 18th

Climbing Ranger Jennifer Erxleben and I climbed the Ingraham Direct this morning with nearly perfect conditions. The route was very direct and much faster than the neighboring Disappointment Cleaver. Remarkably, we had the entire route to ourselves as most parties either climbed the Cleaver or the Gibralter Ledges, which also sounds like it still is in fine shape. The trail breaks off left soon after starting the traverse toward the cleaver. From there the route weaves around a few seracs and bridged crevasses. If we get some warm temps, these bridges could disappear quickly, creating a more convoluted line. Also, there is some exposure time to several seracs between 11,100 and 11,600 ft. Eventually the route heads back right north to intersect the DC route at the top of the cleaver, near 12,400 ft. Above that, the route is very direct and straightforward to the summit. Conditions made for excellent cramponing the entire way with maybe about 5 small crevasses to cross. It is interesting to note that a massive serac-triggered avalanche occured sometime within the last week. A large chunk of ice came out of a serac wall around 13,000 feet which caused an approximately 200-foot wide swath of slab avalanche and serac debris that came directly down the Ingraham Glacier to around 11,600 feet. The debris did not affect the route as we were able to stay left of it, then easily cross it near 12,300 ft. -Joe Puryear

June 17th

From all reports, the Ingraham Direct climbing route is still in shape. Climbers from other routes are using it for a fast descent rather than the Gib Chute. For the most part, the route is as described in the June 11th conditions.

June 11th

The Ingraham is back and it is superb! The route (in green) starts up the Ingraham on climber's right near the Cleaver and follows a moderately steep slope up above the first ice fall. From there it traverses left towards Gib Rock and then up a nice clean slope to pass the second ice fall/crevasse field. Next it heads back over to the top of the Cleaver and meets up with the DC route (in red) to continue to the top. All of the snow we have gotten over the last two weeks has filled in most of the holes that had closed the route, so at time of this writing it has come back into a very straightforward climb. Almost all of the parties that I saw this weekend were using this as the descent route and about half of them were climbing up this route. When we came down at about 9 a.m. the snow had softened up enough by 12,500' that we had to take off our crampons to avoid snow balling up on the bottom of them. Later in the day I saw a team of skiers who reported excellent spring skiing conditions on the Ingraham and fun turns. Arlington, one of the climbing rangers, had this to say about the ski run down:
"...from a skier's perspective the conditions from the summit to 13'000 feet were a bit choppy, with small wind ridges providing a challenging ride(especially on spent legs). Below 13,000 feet, the snow softened up, making for excellent spring skiing. As we worked out onto the Ingraham glacier, I found the established route to be well wanded with a good boot track. The crevasse issues here were not complex and the snow bridges seemed solid. We were able to ride to the top of Cathedral Gap where we had to boot down due to the thin snow and exposed rock. Another sweet day on the mountain!"

-- Narrative by Andy Anderson, photo by Joe Puryear

June 7th

With the recent snowfall on the mountain, the Ingraham Direct seems to have come back in, although the route involves much hazardous exposure to seracs and ice cliffs. No one has successfully climbed the route in the past several weeks, but it may be worth taking a look at. Recent new snowfall has also created considerable localized avalanche potential as wind-deposited pockets and slabs have formed. Hopefully with some warmer weather, this will mellow out soon. ~ narrative and photo by Joe Puryear

May 24th

For the most part, this route is largely "out." A circuitous line may exist, but it's a wild one and would take quite a bit of time to negotiate. John Race put it this way,
"climbers left route on the ID is too broken to do without some monkey business getting in, out, and around crevasses. The climbers right version likely goes, but I was not enthusiastic about waiting in line right under the ice fall."

One climber at Camp Muir pointed out that the glacier "could" still be climbed, however, I noted that he climbed the DC instead.

Note in this photo taken from the DC, crevasses riddle the ID.

Disappointment Cleaver - Archive

June 25th

The Cleaver is now the express way to the top of Mt. Rainier. It sees more climbers than any other route on the mountain. Please be aware of other parties while you are climbing, especially on busy weekends. Give other groups plenty of space if you are trying to pass them. Remember, you do NOT have to stay in the main “trail” while you are climbing.

The route is in excellent shape and the cramponing is just as good, if not better, outside of the main boot pack. There is one section of rock getting onto the bottom of the Cleaver. This traverse also sits under an ice cliff and a loose scree cliff, so climb like the wind until you reach the nose of the Cleaver. There is a fixed line that RMI put in on this traverse to help people be safe. Once you get to the nose of the Cleaver, RMI has fixed about 400' of rope to protect the first third of the nose. After this some parties are traversing out onto the face on the south side of the Cleaver, while others are continuing up the ridgeline. Both of these paths are great.

From the top of the Cleaver the route is still very direct. It does cross several snowbridges and as the weather continues to warm up these will weaken so be ready for some crevasses to open up soon.

~ Adrienne Sherred and Andy Anderson

June 18th

At least 50 people summited via the Disppointment Cleaver today. Conditions are near perfect. Gaining access to the cleaver is still on a snow ramp, although this looks to be melting out fast; soon this will be the typical rock and gravel ledge. The fixed lines (placed by the guide service) protecting this section are in place. The entire cleaver is firm snow with excellent cramponing. The route above, is still very direct with minimal crevasse crossings.
-Joe Puryear

June 11th

The Cleaver is all snow right now. There were almost no open crevasses on the entire route! From Ingraham Flats getting onto the cleaver is clean and direct. You still have to pass under the loose cliffs to get to the nose of the cleaver. We tried to move quickly through this area. Once we hit the nose of the Cleaver the slope steepens to 40 degrees. For the next 500ft there are fixed lines on the nose. After that the route is straight up the rest of the Cleaver. From the top of the cleaver the route is less steep takes you straight to top! The snow was firm and supportive all the way up and it was perfect for cramponning. It is in better shape than I have seen it in a few years.
~ Andy Anderson

June 7th

Much new snow fell on the mountain over the weekend. Camp Muir received close to two feet, but it mostly was blown away and into drifts by high winds. Pockets and slabs of unconsolidated snow were found on leeward slopes giving concern to climbers that avalanche conditions were considerable. A few groups attempted the Disappointment Cleaver route but all were stopped at the toe of the Cleaver due to suspected avy slopes gaining access onto the ridge. All of the fixed lines were completely buried as well. Rangers Joe Puryear, Sam Wick, and Cooper Self also made it to this spot but confirmed that indeed the conditions were poor for continuing. Hopefully with increased temperatures and some melt/freeze cycles, these conditions won’t last long and the route should be back “in” soon.

The Muir Snowfield is in excellent condition with a good boot track all the way to Muir. Skiing conditions as well have been fantastic with good corn snow on the upper half. The lower part of the route is melting out fast and trail crews are working tirelessly to keep hikers and climbers on the snow and the trails and off the vegetation. Please stay out of roped areas and follow the designated trail. ~ report by Joe Puryear.

June 1st

The climbing route was kicked in again last Sunday and Monday. Here is a recent aerial image.

The green line closely follows the climbing path (which was visible from the air.) Notice how closely the route follows the spin of the cleaver. For the most part, it's direct above the cleaver too, but that may not last for long.

RMI will be regularly guiding the route in June. This usually means that guides will be working on the route to ensure that it's safe for clients. Normally this means fixed ropes and shovelled traverses; sometimes they will place ladders across crevasses. If if weren't this work, many climbers would not make the summit of Mount Rainier.

Emmons Winthrop Glacier Route - Archive

June 17th

For the most part, the climbing conditions on the Emmons Glacier route have changed little from the June 7th report. Yes, the trail has melted out more, but there are still some trees down.

Travel on the Inter Glacier and access to the Emmons from Camp Curtis is also straightforward and easy.

As it stands now, there is a boot track to the summit. That should probably remain, unless there is more snow. Check in with the climbing rangers at White River or Camp Schurman when you register for any last minute details.

June 7th

Patchy snow on the Glacier Basin trail for the 1st two miles, then snow for the rest of the way. There are still plenty of down trees along the trail, as it follows the drainage into Glacier Basin.

A good boot track exist up the Inter Glacier, and most of the crevasses are covered. The route from Camp Curtis to the Emmons is still in good shape. Some deep snow in places but not too bad.

The Emmons route is in super great shape with many variations, such as the bowl up and left of the corridor and climbers' right to the Winthrop shoulder. Most climbers report good snow with little ice up high.

Liberty Ridge- Has seen a lot of traffic this past week. The report is the route is in great shape. The Carbon has not been a problem yet, but it is opening up. Snow conditions are firm with little ice. The avalanche danger has gone down. Party reported that slides happened this past weekend. No word on Little Tahoma. Conditions are right for this route. The Fryingpan Glacier is still crevasse free.

Jeremy Shank reported on May 28th...

Snow from the get go; down trees melting out across the trail are an annoying obstacle. Following the creek to Glacier Basin Camp will only work for about another week or so.

The Inter Glacier is hiding its cracks quite well (i.e.: It's very straightforward!)

Accessing the Emmons from Camp Curtis is easier than normal because of a snow ramp.

Above Camp Schurman the route is very direct with many possibilities. This latest storm has left variable depths of snow along the route. Wind over the weekend transported and redistributed the snowpack. Everyone should strongly consider the possibility of avalanche.

Inter Glacier Conditions as May-21

The trail to Glacier Basin is about 95% snow covered. Take caution crossing weak snow bridges over creeks. Five downed trees also obstruct parts of the trail. Crevasses have yet to open on the Inter Glacier, but beware of the cracks as snow melts.

Due to the recent warm weather, skis or snowshoes are recommended to avoid deep "post-holing." Access from the Inter Glacier or Ruth Ridge onto the Emmons is currently straightforward.

Sunset Amphitheater Couloir - Archive

Sunset Amphitheater Couloir - June 1st

It was climbed in early May by two accomplished climber/skiiers. We've no new reports, however while flying on May 30th, I was able to shoot a few images.

In early May, access to the amphitheater was very straight forward. Sky Sjue and Hannah Carrigan climbed Tahoma Creek Trail to Emerald Ridge. From there, they hopped on the Tahoma Glacier and ascended to 11,300 feet (above St. Andrews Rock.) The pair moved north into the amphitheater to take on the couloir.

As it turned out, the couloir was stiffer than expected. Sky reported a, "spicy 30m pitch near the top, beautiful alpine ice kinda thin over rocks. It was easy fun climbing, but interesting because it was too shallow for pickets and too rotten for screws." I.e. don't fall.

After completing the route to Liberty Cap, the two by-passed Columbia Crest and skiied "The Sickle" down the Tahoma Glacier. 25 hours car to car... Wow! Thank you very much and have a nice day.

Photos by Mike Gauthier