Emmons-Winthrop Glacier 2010

October 6th

Conditions on the Emmons should be great right now. The upper mountain surface conditions are predominately consolidated new snow and the route should be in good shape for fall climbing.

There are no rangers staffing Schurman at this time and the toilet has been "winterized". This means if you go up there and use it, please leave it like you found it...very secure with ratchet strap fully around the structure. Remember to take Blue Bags with you, they are available at the White River Ranger Station.

The road to White River Campground should be open until October 31st or until snow prohibits keeping it open. Stay tuned to the park website for details.

Self registration is in effect all winter. Please register at the White River Ranger Station if you climb. The White River WIC will be open until mid October from 7:30 to 4:30 if you would like to register with a ranger.

September 6th

A few strong teams attempted and summited via the Emmons this weekend. Despite broken weather and some high winds the route offered good cramponing on styrofoam neve with no exposed ice. Route finding becomes difficult above the corridor with some crevasse bridges out. When in doubt trend towards the Saddle to the east of Liberty Cap. There are no wands on the route and tracks are hard to discern especially with the few inches of new snow that seems to appear every few days now.

Still, the climbing is excellent, temps are cool on the approach and things are mellow at Camp Schurman. Come up for the day or stay and climb. The Emmons is still a great climb with a fracition of the traffic of the DC.

August 19th

Climbers are still summiting via the Emmons-Winthrop Glacier route. There are two larger crevasse crossings, one about mid-way and the other at the top, on the corridor. Most parties are traversing at a mellow slope angle from the top of the corridor to the saddle between Liberty Cap and Columbia Crest, and then heading for the summit.

A few injuries have occurred with climbers trying to jump across crevasses and landing on uneven terrain. Please take caution whenever a "jump" seems necessary. Try to down climb or "scoot" whenever possible.

July 28, 2010

Not much to report in the last ten days except that it is still seeing plenty of traffic and offers a sweet direct line straight to the top.

Please stop by the ranger hut and have one of the climbing rangers point out the direct line to the summit. With so much traffic from carry-overs on the north-side routes some climbers are getting distracted and finding themselves on the saddle between Liberty Cap and the summit and adding an extra hour hike to their climb.

Please understand that despite favorable conditions and a well-worn path up the route that the potential for severe crevasse falls and weak snowbridges exists ALL THE TIME. Please use appropriate glacier travel protocols.

July 18

Over the weekend the Emmons route saw many climbers successfully summiting Mount Rainier, and fully enjoying some of the best conditions we have seen in mid-July in a number of years.

As with the rest of the mountain the Emmons route is in spectacular shape. The approach to Camp Schurman up the Inter Glacier consists of a very well worn and very direct line straight up the glacier before traversing toward Camp Curtis and continuing over onto the Emmons and into Schurman or up to Emmons Flats. Early travel is recommended during these warm days to avoid postholing in the deep sloppy snow. Even before noon the glacier is getting warm enough to make travel slow.

As of now there are no open crevasses on the Inter Glacier. The Emmons, however, is starting to have some larger crevasses open up on the approach to camp, and roped travel is recommended at all times. The Inter Glacier is still very skiable to just above the glacier basin camp, and many people were out enjoying the July corn.

The route above Schurman is still as direct as it can be. Climbers have been gaining the corridor by one of three large ramps above Emmons Flats, and from there going basically straight up the rest of the route. There are a few crevasses to navigate around between 12,500' and 13,000', and then it is smooth climbing to the summit, with most climbers still choosing to go directly over the bergschrunds as opposed to traversing to Liberty Saddle. The 'schrund crossings are all very solid right now and should stay that way for the near future. Once above the 'schrund continue on to Columbia Crest, take a photo, high five and return the same way, or descend via Liberty Saddle for a little variation.

Come on out and stop by the ranger hut for all the latest info!

July 10, 2010

Summer has finally arrived on the upper mountain! Freezing levels for the past week have been between 11,000 to 14,000 feet during the night providing for exceptionally comfortable climbing conditions and summit cat-naps.

The Emmons route remains in stellar condition with only minor crevasse negotiation near the top of the route. From the top of the Corridor the route trends slightly right until crossing the first bergschrund directly and skirting the second a little farther right. Snow conditions have been perfect for cramponing in the early morning and softening significantly by the afternoon.

Ski conditions from the summit have been quite variable at best above 12,500ft. but creamy below. The skiing on the corridor has been particularly good and skiers from around the country have been showing up in droves as of late.

Also, be advised that the Glacier Basin trail has melted out all the way to the Glacier Basin campsites and the new re-route section of trail is due to open any time. This new section of trail will likely still be under some sort of fine tuning so please be respectful to the trail crew when passing and don't just "play through" without letting them know you are there.

June 27, 2010

Excellent skiing and climbing conditions!! The Emmons is super-direct and can be skinned virtually the entire way to the summit. Snow has melted out from the White River Campground but ski mountaineers shouldn't be discouraged. Carry your skis until the snow coverage is adequate and come up for some great touring out of Schurman or punch it to the TOP for a summit/ski descent. Regardless, flotation is encouraged once past Glacier Basin. For a great wilderness experience take as many days as you can up here to facilitate a comfortable and relaxed acclimatization and enjoy the excellent scenery surrounding the Emmons-Winthrop.

Remember, the route is typically not guided or wanded, leaving it up to you to route-find and decide which way to go. For extra fun think about climbing and skiing multiple routes from Schurman. Crisscrossing the mountain on skis will reduce your carbon footprint, so you could even park at Longmire, take the bus to Paradise and carry over the top, cruise down the Tahoma, and use your best mountain smile to get back to your car. - options abound! Enjoy the late spring corn harvest

June, 18 2010

Super clean line up the Emmons/Winthrop. Lots of groups made it to the summit last weekend.

Looking down from the prow last weekend and the route up to Emmons flats.

Looking up the Inter-Glacier


June 11, 2010 ~ Straight Shot

The Emmons route (as seen in this most recent photo) remains to be in stellar condition although few parties have had good enough weather windows to summit thus far this season. The route basically follows the fall line of "the corridor" all the way to the top where a short dog-leg right will get climbers around a short ice step, then straight again to the summit. It is not every year that the June version of the Emmons route is in such incredible shape with only moderately objective hazards from above.

On the topic of snow stability... it seems as if we are finally going to be getting our first shot of summer this weekend after much anticipation. With the warmer trending weather and freezing levels rising, it will be imperative for climbing parties to get early starts from Camp Schurman as the potential for avalanche activity will be likely to increase drastically in the afternoon sun.

Perhaps a more real, yet underestimated concern, is on the approach via the Inter Glacier...There has been daily avalanche activity coming off the steep slopes of Mt. Ruth and the other steeper, rock lined areas adjacent to the Inter Glacier approach. Most climbing parties traveling to Camp Schurman have been wise enough to give these areas and run-out zones a wide birth sticking to the very center of the Inter Glacier where there has been no observed avalanche activity making for much safer travel. The skiing conditions on the Inter Glacier have been quite phenomenal as of late, and skis can currently be kept on approximately a mile below Glacier Basin during the descent making for a quick trip out. If planning to camp at the Glacier Basin campground on the approach, there has been one pit toilet dug out that is ready for use, although all tent camping remains on snow.

See you on the mountain!

June 9 2010

After a week of storms intermixed with beautiful sunny days, the mountain is snow covered and ready to be climbed. The Emmons Glacier with its relatively low objective dangers has been a great route to the summit for many parties recently, even throughout the stormy weather we have been receiving. Teams have been summiting via the Emmons on a regular basis and it seems the most successful parties have planned on spending two or three days at Schurman waiting for the best opportunity to hit a weather window and go for the top. The extended trip also offers advantages of just being able to soak up the scenery and enjoy your surroundings. It's way better up here than at your office.

Currently the route itself is as straightforward as it gets. There is snow everywhere and very few open crevasses to navigate through. The route ascends from Schurman to the corridor and then basically straight up with variations going either left or right around the seracs above 12,000'. Parties have been forgoing the long traverse to Liberty Saddle and climbing directly to the top crossing the bergschrund on either of the two large snow ramps. Early travel helps to avoid the postholing that will eventually happen when all that new snow gets direct sun exposure or when the temps warm up.

The approach to Schurman is in great shape going straight up the Inter Glacier, over Camp Curtis and up the Emmons. This is another trip that is best done early in the day to avoid the warm sloppy afternoon snow conditions. Be wary of the steep slopes on Mount Ruth and Ruthless ridge that like to send wet point release avalanches down into the basin on warm days after new snow. That being said the skiing conditions on the Inter Glacier have been exceptional lately. Come check it all out.

June 2

This is a picture looking up the Emmons from mid-way up the "Corridor". The route is in great condition with no open crevasse crossings yet. There is great skiing at this time.

The Inter Glacier is also looking great with no open crevasses. Point-release slides are evident on the cliffsides as well as some large slides off Mt. Ruth.

There is still lots of snow on the trail up to Glacier Basin, but also lots of dirt patches are appearing so don't put your skis on until you get up about 2 miles.

Park in the climber/day-use parking lot at White River Campground.

Registration is at the White River Ranger Station.

Sun - Thur 0730 - 1630

Fri 0700 - 1900

Sat 0730 - 1630


Emmons-Winthrop Glacier 2010 - May 28

The road is open to White River campground, please park in day use parking. The trail up to glacier basin is mostly snow free. New snow this week, so bring your skis if you have some. The route is in good condition. Expect deep snow drifts on the upper mountain and Inter-Glacier.


Emmons-Winthrop Glacier 2010 - May 25

Here's a trip report from last weekend:

Trip report Emmons-Winthrop 5/22 - 5/24:
I picked up my buddy Joe from N. Carolina at SeaTac Friday night and we headed to White River Saturday morning. Contrary to the information given to me by the park service on Friday, the gate was closed, but Dave Gottlieb was there in a truck and let us in and got us checked in for the climb.
The route from the campground to Glacier Basin was in pretty rough shape and took a long time in our rando boots. Patchy snow, sketchy bridge coverage, lots of post holing while carrying our skis. We saw 3 other skiers and one boarder coming back from day trips to the Interglacier. All reported good skiing, but said the vis had gotten really bad. When we came out of the woods at Glacier Basin we could see maybe 50 yards and it got progressively worse. We decided to camp in Glacier Basin rather than heading to Schurman that night.
Sunday was more of the same. We headed up the Interglacier and got a few degrees off line in the fog and ended up on climber’s far right at the top of the Interglacier. I had only been up to Schurman once before and was having trouble visualizing where we were in the fog. It finally cleared a bit and I could see where we were well enough to head to Schurman. We descended and then started climbing back up to Schurman and then the sun broke through and the skies cleared completely.
It got very cold when the sun went down but no wind to speak of. We got up a little after 2 a.m. (too late in hindsight) and ran into some stove issues. It took a couple hours to get the stove fixed, melt enough snow for water and gear up, but it was a beautiful day for climbing. Joe had a flight to catch that night so we set a noon turn around time. We started skinning up the Corridor and made pretty good time for the first 1,500 ft or so. Then we started hitting patches of ice and wind blown hard pack that was pretty slippery on skins. Joe took a little slide as we were turning (we were roped) so we decided to switch to crampons. The conditions were pretty variable and we ended up going from ice to mid thigh post holing back to ice. At around 12,000 we started running into small crevasses that were very hard to spot with all the windblown snow ridges around and we slowed down considerably. After punching through a few times, we then tried switching back to our skis to speed up our progress through these small crevasses a bit but the angle and the surface conditions slowed us more. We got to about 12, 500 and realized we were never going to make the summit before our turn around time, so we decided to enjoy the skiing, have lunch and head down at a leisurely pace. So, we did not summit, but I think if we had had another night to stay at Schurman we would have made it up no problem. From what we could see above us, the route is fine – it just takes a lot of time due to snow depth etc. (at least for us).
The ski down to Schurman was good with the last 800 ft or so being excellent. We packed up and headed to the Interglacier and the skiing there was outstanding. There was evidence of some small slough off slides on skier’s right but nothing major. All in all the snow pack seemed pretty stable for our whole route.

May 5

Hwy 410 (Chinook Pass) is now open so you can get as far as the turn off to the White River entrance. Leave your car on the north side of the road behind the monument. The road up to White River Campground is snow free (5 miles). We are planning to open the road by May 21st, but check here for updates as we may get it open a few days early. Twenty- four hour self-registration is still in affect at the White River Ranger Station a half mile past the closed gate.


Emmons-Winthrop Glacier 2010 - April 20th

No reports yet, but the route should be in great shape. Check out the road access and registration info below.

White River Approach:

Currently the road is closed at the park boundary on 410. You can park in the snowplay parking lot and start your climb there; turn left on Crystal Blvd and the parking lot is just to your right. (Do NOT park in front of the gate on 410 itself - you may be towed). Self-registration is available 24 hours a day at the White River Ranger Station.

Highway 410/123 may be open as early as April 30, check with the Washington state DOT web site for more up-to-date info.


Gibraltar Ledges/Chute 2010

Gibraltar Ledges/Chute 2010 - July 22nd

The ledges have melted out significantly since the 6th of July. Now, instead of walking all on snow, there are talus patches climbers must traverse to gain the upper section of Gibraltar Chute. The rocky/gritty surface of the snow on the ledges and in the chute are a sign of increased rockfall hazard. Access to the ledges via the Cowlitz is still fairly direct and smooth, and the route above Gib Rock on the upper mountain is still in great shape - a nice direct path to the crater rim.

July 6th

Rangers climbed the ledges and found great conditions on both the ledges and chute. The upper elevation snow seems to be sticking around longer than most years.

A couple of crevasses are opening up on the approach to the ledges. When ascending the Cowlitz Glacier, watch out for these cracks. Above the ledges the route is still very straight forward, offering fast and direct summits.

The chute has multiple crevasses opening up at the bottom. It's prudent to rope up for this section of the route. Also, stay climbers right and move quickly to avoid ice/rock fall down the chute.

June 24th

With no parties reporting successful summits via the Gibraltar Ledges there has been no official update. There has been a boot track climbing up from Camp Muir to the ledges, on the Cowlitz, over the past couple of weeks though. The ledges still have snow and are definitely climbable, and appear to be "in good conditions" for at least a couple of more weeks.

Be sure to assess snow stability before entering terrain where any kind of slide could have catastrophic consequences.

April 10th

Reports have been positive with regard to Gib Ledges this year. There have been a handful of successful parties summiting within the last couple of weeks. With all of the new snow accumulation use caution when exiting the ledges into the chute. The top part of the chute can be unstable.

With the wintry conditions, this route is probably the most direct way to the summit. Advanced skiers have even skied the chute after climbing the ledges. Another option is to ski to the top of the chute, downclimb the ledges, and then ski the upper Cowlitz back to Camp Muir.

The same registering logistics apply to Gib Ledges/Chute as for the Disappointment Cleaver. Use the link to the right to check them out.

Liberty Ridge 2010

Liberty Ridge 2010 July 28th

Reports from Lib Ridge indicate that the route is still climbable but that rockfall hazard has picked up significantly since rangers climbed the route two weeks ago. Furthermore, the large devestating slab avalanche has reduced the aesthetic quality of the route despite offering 1500 ft of front pointing on 50 degree terrain.

Independent teams reported that the safest climbing was to be found directly on the ridge whereas climbers working their way up the flanks of the ridge experienced heavy rockfall, enough to induce retreat for a team after one climber had his helmet shattered.

The upper portions of the route above the Black Pyramid are still in decent shape and the 'schrund still offers interesting climbing but unfortunately may not be worth the hazard at this time. If you were planning on Lib Ridge, consider other classic routes such as Ptarmigan or the Mowich Face. Stay tuned for more photos.

July 20th

These photos of a massive avalanche on the lower half of the ridge were taken from the air on the 20th.

Liberty Ridge 2010- July 14th

Liberty Ridge is in great shape and seeing lots of traffic in the last week including multiple teams of climbers and one almost complete ski descent by a party of three. Despite some soft snow on the approach and the lower route due to abnormally high freezing temps the route and approach was super straightforward.

The route should be in good conditions for several more week as our late season snowfall has finally shaped up on the north side of the mountain.

Fresh debris from serac fall off the Liberty Wall. Both the Willis Wall and Liberty Wall provided ample entertainment at the Thumb Rock bivy with lots of rockfall and avalanches; wear your helmet!

The 'schrund at 13,200 ft. goes at AI3 and is really only about 50 ft. of technical terrain. An ice screw or two would provide sufficient protection.

These Google Earth shots show the rangers' route along the Winthrop and Carbon Glaciers as well as the top out on Liberty Cap and the long mile to Columbia Crest. Rangers carried over the top to Camp Muir but most parties prefer to forgo the true summit and descend the Emmons to Camp Schurman.

The approach from White River is mostly snowfree on the new and improved re-route to Glacier Basin. From there it's all snow for the rest of the route. The camping at Lower Curtis Ridge is on exposed rock but please be mindful of your impact. USE YOUR BLUEBAGS. Rangers approached via the west side of the icefall to the toe of the ridge and did not have any trouble with the lower 'schrund.

Virtually the whole route is on snow with some bits of rock and a little ice on the way up to Thumb Rock. The climbing was quite easy but be mindful of the potential for rockfall. At Thumb Rock we did notice some human waste and disposed of it properly. Please use BLUEBAGS and PACK IT OUT!! Thumb Rock bivy is awesome, but be advised our GPS calls it 10,500 approx. rather than 10760 ft. Don't be discouraged, it's easy climbing up to the Black Pyramid; we went left out of camp. Above the Black Pyramid there was no exposed ice and while some parties pitched out the steeper climber with pickets, we still managed with a ski pole and one ice tool.

The climbing above the 'schrund was still fairly steep and some parties pitched this out while other climbers felt comfortable unroped. Unfortunately, you do have to top out Liberty Cap to go anywhere else and the traverse to Columbia Crest is a long mile. That said we managed to climb in t-shirts all the way to the summit and down to Camp Muir in what were some of the best conditions of the year.

May 14

Rangers just returned from an attempt on Liberty Ridge, having approached from White River through Glacier Basin. They reached approximately 9800 ft. before turning back due to what appeared to be high avalanche conditions on the ridge itself. That said, with high temps and sunny conditions the route should come into good shape in the next week.

We approached via the Glacier Basin trail at White River. Keep in mind that White River is still closed at 410, so this approach involves several miles of plowed road before reaching the campground and trailhead. The approach was made on skis and while helpful eventually the first mile or two on the trail was an exercise in patience as the trail has melted out in places and involved perhaps 15 stream crossings. Were we to do it again I might get a super-early (frozen) start and bootpack the first mile or so before putting on my skis.

After entering Glacier Basin we took the obvious right towards St. Elmo Pass. Again be considerate of your timing as this is an east-facing slope loaded with snow so wet-slab avalanches are a possibility. We made good time across the Winthrop and Curtis Ridge but don't be fooled. You will need to cross Curtis Ridge completely on the far side at 7200 ft. As nice as it seems to gain some elevation on the traverse there is no way through the sheer cliffs on the far west side of Curtis Ridge.

Once on the Carbon we picked our way up towards Liberty Ridge trending on climber's left of the ridge. We began to encounter new unconsolidated snow at around 8000 ft. After traversing under the ridge to the west side we gained the ridge on skis at 8700 ft. The snow was deeper and steeper and became a real concern in terms of avalanche potential. Once on the ridge we switched to crampons hoping that just a little higher we would find compacted frozen neve. We quickly found out that there was even more snow higher resulting in thigh-deep postholing. The snow was 3-4 ft. deep with a shallow windcrust on top and a firm icy bed surface. With the sun just coming over the ridge we decided that climbing 5000 ft. of hanging snowfields under these conditions was not a good idea. We beat a hasty retreat of the ridge and skied excellent corn down to 7200 ft. on the Carbon.

Temps Wednesday-Thursday-Friday were abnormally hot without any wind. I would assume that the sun should either settle or slough any unstable snow in the next few days. However, if you want to climb this route this weekend please consider the avalanche potential on the route and either time your climbing with temperature and aspect or maybe push it back a week or two.

Freezing levels have been abnormally high, in the 9000 ft. range the past few days. I would hope that temps will cool off to normal and one should be able to approach and climb in boots without the need for flotation given early alpine starts. Definitely check freezing levels before heading out.

Liberty Ridge 2010- May 5

Hwy 410 (Chinook Pass) is now open so you can get as far as the turnoff to the White River entrance. Leave your car on the north side of the road behind the monument. The road up to White River Campground is snow free (5 miles). We are planning to open the road by May 21st, but check here for updates as we may get it open a few days early. Twenty- four hour self-registration is still in affect at the White River Ranger Station a half mile past the closed gate.

The info. below is still current for the Carbon approach.


Liberty Ridge 2010 - April 21

We have had no reports yet, but the route should be in great shape. Check out the road access and registration info. below.

Carbon River Approach

If approaching from Carbon River, consider that at present the road is closed at the entrance station. Park there and secure your things in a way as to not invite thieves into your vehicle. Twenty-four hour self-registration is still in affect. There is very little snow left on your way to the base of the Carbon Glacier. The trail to the Carbon River camp is washed out, so Cataract Creek will have to be forded
. For the route beyond this point, we have no info. at this time.

White River Approach:

Currently the road is closed at the park boundary on U.S.410. You can park in the snowplay parking lot and start your climb there; turn left on Crystal Blvd. and the parking lot is just to your right. (Do NOT park in front of the gate on 410 itself - you may be towed). Self-registration is available 24 hours a day at the White River Ranger Station.

Highway 410/123 may be open as early as April 30; check with the Washington state DOT web site for more up-to-date info.


Liberty Ridge 2010 - April 8th

Conditions are snowy right now!

There hasn't yet been anyone in the Liberty Ridge area this spring. This is probably due to the White River road still being affected by the winter closure. However, before long the road will be open and north-side climbing will commence.

Now for the vague details. Highway 410 and the White River road will open sometime in the mid-May time frame. Stay tuned to the park website:

or the DOT website:

When the White River road opens the WIC will be open for climbing registration from 7 to 7 on Fridays and 7:30 to 4:30 all other days. If anyone gets the urge to hike, bike or snowmachine(only as far as the campground!) in before then, please self register at the White River ranger station.

As for all early season climbs be prepared for deep sloppy snow, avalanche hazards and sudden storms when venturing out into the m0untains. Stay tuned to this post for more info as we get closer to climbing season, and if anyone gets to this route before we do, drop us an email and let us know what you find.

For previous year's conditions check out this link.

Kautz Glacier 2010

September 3rd

Photo of the ice pitches taken from the Tatoosh

Kautz Glacier 2010 - August 20

For detailed route information please see the narration from August 15th. As for updated conditions, the ice pitches are a little longer, the approach up from Glacier Vista is a lot more talus and glacial debris and the high crevasses below the crater rim are getting a bit bigger. Otherwise it is an excellent route that will hang tough well into September.

Bear in mind the large 1/2 mile-long crevasse just below the crater may shut you down at 14,000ft. If so try and work climbers' right until either you find a bridge or perhaps intersect the DC. The higher you go the shorter the traverse.

August 15

A recent ranger patrol of the Kautz pretty much confirmed what we had been thinking...The Kautz is a beautiful climb! Conditions are still great with a direct approach going via the Nisqually and Wilson Glaciers, and beautiful upper route conditions.

Coming out of Paradise, climbers should take the Deadhorse Creek trail for about a half a mile and then turn left onto the Moraine trail, which will take you down to the Nisqually. Once there climbers can go one of two ways. One way and the one I prefer is to head up the Nisqually and over to the Wilson glacier, which is still in great shape. The other option is to cross the Nisqually around 6,000' and ascend the Fan climbing to the prominent ridge at 7,200' and continuing onto the camps at the Turtle. With both of these approaches, rockfall hazard definitely is an issue in spots, so look around and move quickly if it looks like you are under a looming cliff. A third way to go with more elevation gain but with better wildflower views is to leave from Comet Falls and hike through Van Trump Park and over the Van Trump Glaciers. This route meets up with the main approach around 7,200'.

High camps for the Kautz are along the west side of the Turtle with the ones between 10,400' and 10,600' being the best. Please avoid creating new tent platforms in the rocks and use the really nice ones that are already there! Running water can be found in abundance at 9,400' but there is not as much above.

To get down to the Kautz Glacier from the Turtle find the rappel station at 10,800' and descend. Four days ago we could still walk off the ridge onto the glacier because of abundant snow, but expect that to slowly change over the next few weeks. There are two distinct pitches of ice on the route right now. The first is 50 degrees at its steepest and the second is 55 to 60 near the top. Each pitch is approximately 60-80 meters in length. These sections could be climbed with one standard ice ax, but two ice tools definitely makes them really cruiser. Ice screws are recommended for protection in this area. Above the chute the route climbs over the top of Wapowety Clever and continues on a upward easterly traverse to the crater rim. There are a few big crevasses opening up in this area, but they are easy to navigate through and/or around.

Climbers could descend the Kautz, downclimbing or rappelling the ice pitches, or carry over and descend the DC. Please remember to take and use your blue bags when climbing the Kautz! Carry them down to proper deposit barrels at Camp Muir or Paradise also! No one wants to run into your full blue bag when they are setting up their tents. Please respect our environment and your fellow climbers.

July 22nd

The Kautz Glacier route now has some icy patches showing through. Guided groups and independent parties have both been able to climb, and down climb, with ease. The icy patches are shorter than what a 30 m rope can span. The upper section above the two ice pitches still isn't broken up too much, allowing climbers good, direct, access to the crater rim or Point Success.

Lots of skiers have been making tracks from high camp down to the base of Glacier Vista on their return trip. A couple of parties have also been using the "Fan" to access the West Nisqually Ridge line, but reported almost constant rockfall - remember your helmets!

July 7th

Recent reports from the Kautz have all been very positive. Climbers have been reporting the Kautz chute is still almost all snow, and the route in general is very direct. Parties have been approaching via the Wilson Glacier, and camping between 9,400' and 10,800' on the Turtle snowfield.

Forecasts this week call for very warm temperatures so expect deep and soft snow conditions on the route, especially in the middle of the day. Travel early to avoid postholing.

May 11th

The Kautz Glacier along with all the other south side routes are in prime shape at the moment, and what looks to be a solid stint of good weather should provide ample climbing and skiing opportunities for the rest of the week.

As of now the approach to the Kautz is very direct. Access the Turtle by heading up the Nisqually and getting onto the Wilson at around 7000' or staying on the Nisqually navigating fairly gentle terrain until traversing across the Wilson around 8800'. Be wary of steep slopes low on the glaciers that are prone to avalanches in warm weather.

There are many good places to camp depending on the time frame of your group. The most notable of these are found along the prominent rock ridge that separates the Turtle snowfield from the Wilson Glacier, from 7800' to 9400'. Higher camps can be found along the west edge of the Turtle from 10000' to 11000'.

The upper part of the Kautz looks to be in great shape with snow covering the entire route. Access the lower Kautz at the 10800' level to avoid prolonged exposure to icefall hazards. As of now we don't have any specifics on the condition of the ice chute, so climbers would be advised to bring a second tool and a couple of ice screws, but expect conditions to be predominantly snow. From the top of the chute the rest of the route should go very direct along the upper Kautz to the crater rim.

April 9th


Climber registration is currently available only at the Longmire Museum or the Paradise old station (little gray A-frame in front of the CIC) self-registration box. Please be diligent and make sure you register and purchase 2010 climbing passes. Unregistered climbers run the risk of not being rescued if overdue simply because there would be no record of them on the mountain. The Climbing Information Center will be open on weekends beginning May 7th and will open full time on May 28th. The Climbing Rangers will be in and out of the office over the next several weeks but will be returning calls if messages are left at 360 569 6009.If approaching the Park from the East side to climb the DC or other routes beginning at Paradise be advised that 410/Chinook Pass is scheduled to open May 21st. Stevens Canyon Road is scheduled to open May 28th. It is highly recommended that before heading towards Paradise one calls the Park for updated road conditions as they are highly weather dependent at this time. 360 569 2211.

The Route:

While there have been multiple attempts on the Kautz already this season the success rate has been quite low. Climbers should be prepared for DEEP snow, avalanche conditions, and full winter expedition-style climbing. In the last week alone the Paradise area has received over 8 ft. of new snow with natural and skier-triggered avalanches running on all aspects. Skis and snowshoes are strongly recommended if one wants to get beyond the parking lot. Avalanche beacons, probe poles, shovels and the knowledge to use them are also strongly encouraged when venturing into avalanche terrain. You can bet that "the Fan", "the Turtle" and other aspects of the upper mountain are poised to avalanche with the right trigger.

With that said, climbing rangers have been enjoying the late winter fluff around the mountain. Just play safe and continually check the latest weather reports before departing on any adventure to the upper mountain.

This post will be updated with more detailed route information as it becomes available.

See you on the mountain!

Muir Snowfield & Camp Muir 2010

October 6th

The Muir Snowfield is in excellent condition for early October. The trail stays on snow from Pebble Creek on up, and surface conditions are firm, consolidated snow. Crampons are recommended if you are traveling early or late in the day. There are no wands marking the trail at this time so be comfortable with your navigation skills.

Always check the forecast before heading to Muir and plan accordingly, but know the weather can change suddenly at any time. Be prepared for wind!

The toilets at Muir have been winterized. The solar toilets are closed and the pit toilets are open. Please make sure all the doors are securely latched when you are finished.

The public shelter is open. Please help keep this building in good condition. Remember to close and latch all doors and to not leave any food or gear behind. There is a shovel that lives outside of the shelter. It is used to dig the doors out after snow storms. Please make sure it is accessible and secure.

There is an emergency radio in the public shelter. Use this in the event of an emergency to contact the NPS.

September 22

The Muir Snowfield is in excellent shape right now. Fresh snow that has fallen above 7,000' in the past couple of weeks has made travel very nice, and the skiing is actually fairly decent at the moment!

Take any of the Paradise trails past Panorama Point and then onto Pebble Creek, where the actual Muir Snowfield starts. From here the route stays on snow the whole way to Camp Muir. There are no crevasses open on the snowfield this season.

The fresh snow does have a tendency to cover up the old tracks, so be sure to have some sort of navigation aid, like map and compass or GPS with you. Remember your sunscreen and sunglasses, even if the weather is overcast when you start hiking. Often you get above the clouds on the way to Muir.

August 31st

The way to Pebble Creek is almost entirely snow free. Stop by the ranger office or visitor center for a map of the Paradise area Trails. The snowfield itself held together through August unseasonably well. There are only minor glide cracks opening up between Moon Rocks and Anvil Rock. The hard, glacial, ice patch hasn't been melting out like usual either, making crampons unnecessary when hiking during the middle of the day. Also, BE CAREFUL OF STORMY WEATHER. This time of year can be extra dangerous on the snowfield due to sudden and violent storms. Make sure your team can navigate in a white out while in the middle of the snowfield, and make sure everyone on the team has extra warm clothes.

Skiing and snowboarding can be done, but it's rough. Small and hard sun-cups have formed on the snowfield, making for horrible moguls. It's probably safest to walk down the snowfield this time of year.

Please remember to take all garbage and food down with you when leaving Camp Muir. Foxes have been around Camp Muir for the last couple of months and will eat any food and choke on any wrappers left behind.

August 17th

Getting to Camp Muir now requires about as much walking on dirt (or asphalt) as it does walking on snow. The trails are almost completely melted out below Pebble Creek and the flowers are in bloom! Please be aware of where you are walking when you are in the Paradise Meadows. The plants in these areas have super short growing seasons and are very susceptible to damage from climbing boots. Help us set a good example for everyone and stay on the designated trails until you get onto the snowfield.

The snowfield itself is in incredible shape for mid to late August (see photo to right, taken from the Turtle Snowfield). No icy sections have melted out and not a single "glide crack" (crevasse) has opened up, yet. Beware that the snow itself firms up at night and makes travel without crampons extremely difficult.

Once you get to Muir and set up camp be sure to secure your food so animals won't get into it. Raven, rosy finch, mouse, and fox can all get food if it is left out in the open. Fox can get food when it is in your pack, although he hasn't broken into any tents yet.

Please remember to clean up after yourself, and if you want to be a good person, pick up some trash you didn't even leave behind!

July 28

The Snowfield still offers plenty of snow beyond Pebble Creek but the wildflowers and critters are out in droves from Paradise up to 7000 ft. As for ski conditions, massive sun cups and the need for a 5000 ft hike for a 2000 ft ski seems a little ridiculous at this point. That said, skiing the upper mountain is still a possibility so consider your vertical gain vs. descent before humping up the Skyline Trail in ski boots.

Rangers descending from Camp Muir picked up copious amounts of trash on the snowfield. Please. It is not obvious to everyone that there is no trash removal service at Camp Muir or on the Muir Snowfield. If each visitor were to leave even a 1/4 lb of garbage behind, with an average of over 200 visitors a day peak season, that's . . . yup . . . 50 lbs a day!!! Way too much for us to carry down, plus we've got our own garbage to carry. Please help us out. As the snow continues to melt please be mindful of hidden trash and pick up stuff that may not be yours. Come in and show us what you bring down and you will see some very happy ranger faces.

Camp Muir is still holding lots of snow, which has helped keep the dust down this summer. Slim Shady, the wily upper mountain Rainier Fox, has been tagging the summit regularly by following climbers and nabbing their dropped food wrappers and food left outside their tents. Please keep your site tight at Camp Muir and pick up all your trash on the route.

July 22nd

The snowfield has continued to melt rapidly these last couple of days. The trail to Alta Vista is almost all snow free, so are large portions of the major switchback to Pan Point, and Sections around Pebble Creek are also showing. Pebble Creek is currently the last bit of running water for climbers to access on their way to Camp Muir.

Skiers are finding the snowfield to be more and more sun-cupped. This makes for a bumpy ride, especially early in the morning. It's best to ski down between the hours of 10:30 and 12:00 on sunny days.

These nice sunny days have offered amazingly unobstructed views of the Southern Cascades. Come on up and share the view with a good friend.

July 6th

Hot temperatures and lots of sun have been melting the snowfield rapidly this week. Skiers now have to click out of their bindings at least twice on the way from Camp Muir to Paradise. The meadow is beginning to melt out in patches along the trail.

The summer route up to Camp Muir is now standard. The awesome Paradise trail crew has marked the route with wands and bamboo to get you on the right track. Please help us protect the fragile landscape.

June 24

Skiers are still able to rip all the way from Camp Muir to Paradise without unclipping and walking over rock bands. Some skiers reporting 12 minute descents, while snowboarders are cruising in at a cool 14 minutes.

Panorama Point's face is still the way all climbers are taking to get to Camp Muir. Just be aware of where you're stepping when you get close to the Panorama Point toilet. The melted-out patches of meadow are extremely fragile right now.

Most parties are still choosing to take the longer "winter-route" above Panorama Point, instead of short-cutting through Pebble Creek. Bamboo wands are placed at fairly frequent intervals, but do not depend on them for navigation.

With the recent nice weather and clear atmosphere, Mount Jefferson in Oregon has been visible. Come on up and take in the view yourself!

June 15

Despite a media frenzy concerning extreme avalanche danger throughout the state, independent-minded folks braved the sunny weather and excellent conditions to enjoy beautiful conditions at Camp Muir this weekend. There were several hundred hikers and climbers on the snowfield both days and a perfect spring corn cycle made for excellent ski conditions. Rangers at Camp Muir also found excellent skiing just above Muir on the Triple A Couloir and Cadaver Gap.

On a separate note, while this Jack Russell Terrier appears to be fully prepared for high mountain glacier travel, can anyone tell me what's wrong with this picture? Yes, he is roped up with the appropriate footwear and is even practicing self-arrest on safe terrain on the Cowlitz but....that's right, he is a DOG! As stated just a few weeks ago dogs are NOT ALLOWED past the parking lot in ANY National Park!! You could buy a climbing pass for this dog and get the requisite wilderness permit and he would still NOT BE ALLOWED at Camp Muir!! Clearly, this is not the dog's fault. The owner expressed 'remembering' that dogs were not allowed only after getting halfway up the snowfield. Apparently during the two hour drive, leashing, and shodding of his dog he was incapable of remembering this rule???? Don't be stupid. If you can't remember this simple rule you clearly do not have the proper situational awareness and keen judgment necessary to be camping at Camp Muir.

On a more scientific note, the reticent but accomplished lead Climbing Ranger Stefan Lofgren can be seen here in government issue hot pink CROCs installing the new solar radiation monitor at Camp Muir. While really just doing what his wife told him to do, this will enable the public to see just how much solar penetration the upper mountain is receiving. This is helpful not only when deciding whether it is worth a 3 hour hike in the rain to achieve solar bliss at Camp Muir but also as a way for avalanche technicians around the world to see how much sun is penetrating the snowpack. This will be invaluable information with respect to last week's fatal avalanche and a great way for spring skiers to anticipate ski conditions. Look for more updates and links to the our new solar radiation monitor in the next few weeks.

June 13

The snowfield baked in the sun all day yesterday and will do the same today. Expect soft and wet conditions. Point-release slides were observed on the steep face just below Panorama Point. Wet point-releases are still possible on the steeper slopes, but with proper route selection traveling to and from Camp Muir is perfectly reasonable.

June 1

Currently, climbing rangers are staffing Muir on a fairly regular basis, schedule permitting. Several bathrooms are open and maintained by the illustrious and enigmatic Ted Cox. NPS asks all independent climbers to maintain a clean and tidy public shelter, bathrooms and snowfield. A Rainier Fox has been spotted several times at Muir sniffing around looking for scraps. Make sure that you pack ALL your trash out and if you are planning on awakening in the middle of the night to climb please keep your food inside your tent. Foxes have deprived teams of food for summit bids in the past so please keep a tidy camp!!

Come on up to Camp Muir and get your alpine on!! The skiing and climbing have been great so far!

May 21

Travel to Camp Muir has been going on under cloudy and snowy conditions for the past few days but that hasn't slowed down hardy climbers and skiers from getting out and enjoying their national park. With over a foot of new snow on the ground, snow shoes or skis are recommended to provide a little flotation to your steps. A GPS with waypoints and/or a compass and bearing sheet are also very useful things to have at the moment, for when the clouds roll in and the visibility becomes poor. The route to Muir is well wanded at the moment, but don't rely 100% on wand navigation, since they can blow away, break, or get buried by new snow.

Wintry weather aside, conditions are great for just getting out and about. Breaks in the weather have provided excellent opportunities for skiing and snowboarding and we have seen many people getting out and training for future climbs.


Conditions are excellent on the Muir Snowfield with snow from Camp Muir all the way down to the Paradise parking lot. Make sure you wax your skis and time your approaches to get the best corn conditions. Other day hikers are encouraged to either have flotation of some sort like snowshoes or be prepared to posthole at some point on their hike. Trekking poles help greatly for travel in deep snow conditions.

Several hundred people enjoyed great weather at the end of last week up at Camp Muir including an unleashed Cairn Terrier. While probably not the first terrier ascent of the snowfield dog owners are reminded of National Park Policy which requires all pets to be leashed in developed areas (ie parking lots, trailheads) and nowhere are dogs allowed on or off trail. That said, it was a pretty proud ascent for someone with four inch legs.

Travelers to Muir should anticipate low avalanche hazard providing they follow the wanded climbers route. Unless you dip into the Nisqually or the Paradise Glacier there is very little hazard on the way up the snowfield. Once at Camp Muir please use the eastside 'handicap' toilet. The westside toilet is open to guided clients only. Please B.Y.O.T.P. Unfortunately, conditions have made toilet maintenance challenging and hopefully by this coming weekend more facilities are made available. Finally, if you plan on using the public shelter you must PACK IT OUT! Climbing Rangers removed over 40 POUNDS of garbage after independent climbers assured them that they would pack it out. This is LAME and unacceptable! Your mother does not work at Camp Muir. Please respect the environment and public property and leave the shelter and the Camp Muir grounds clean and enjoyable for the next group.

April 21st

There is no lack of snow between Paradise and Camp Muir. Travel to Camp Muir is best approached on skis, splitboard or snowshoes this time of year. Take care to assess avalanche danger along your journey as snow conditions can change rapidly in the early spring. During periods of questionable avalanche danger either avoid travel all-together or choose your route wisely to minimize time in avalanche terrain.

Toilets are open at Camp Muir, but be sure to B.Y.O.T.P. Climbers planning on traveling above Muir are required to self-register at the Paradise Old Station (small A-frame adjacent to the paradise parking lot) or the Longmire Museum (during open hours). Overnight parking is located in the Paradise lower lot.