Kautz Glacier 2014

September 22

View of the route as of September 21, 2014. Click to zoom.

Pleasant but rocky approach through Van Trump Park

August 10

Climber on the upper ice step

Rangers climbed the route two days ago and had fantastic climbing conditions! The approach through Van Trump Park is well worth the hike with great views of wildflowers and cascading waterfalls.
The snow on the Turtle is well consolidated with a few patches of ice. The approach up this last snowfield before camp hazard may require crampons if there is no boot pack to follow.

High camp is mostly rock with a few veins of running water. The fixed rope at 11,200 where you drop down the rock step to access the glacier has a new rappel line set up. Currently the bottom of the rappel is rock, so you don't need to put on your crampons until after descending this step.

The ice climbing is really good right now. The lower and upper ice sections are very clean and sticky.  Both sections are approx.  350' tall. using a 60m rope will come in handy if you planning on pitching out the ice sections. For the more advanced climber, both ice sections can easily be simul-climbed with 5-6 ice screws.

The glacier travel above the ice steps is still very manageable. Crevasses are staring to open up more but there are still many options for crossing and/or navigating around. Have fun, be safe, the mountains are calling.

July 19

Rangers haven't had a patrol up the Kautz since June, but numerous guided parties and independent climbers have summitted via the Kautz Glacier route in July.  The approach to the high camp is still straight forward.  The lower Nisqually Glacier has visible cracks expanding every day, but the route across to the Turtle Snowfield still feels direct.  Access via Comet Falls Trailhead also feels direct and has more wildflowers and alpine meadows (and more vert) than the Paradise approach.  If possible, avoid using the 'fan' to access the ridge, and if you choose to go up the chossy gully, make sure not to linger.

Most climbers have been making high camp at 10,400' and above.  There's numerous tent platforms above and to the climber's left of the Turtle Snowfield.  Running water can also be found near here if the freezing level stays above the mountain top.  

The two ice pitches are still melting out and exposing more and more ice, making for a sustained WI 3- pitch of hard glacial ice on top, and interesting wandering ice sections below.  A 60 meter rope can keep you from having to setup awkward stances mid-pitch.  Also - keep in mind that the interface between the hard glacial ice and softer seasonal snow melting away can be dangerous and hard to protect - too stiff for pickets, but too rotten for ice screws.  Plan to give yourself some extra rope to climb through this section and into better anchor locations.

Above the ice pitches, from the Wapowety Cleaver and beyond, some larger cracks are starting to form, but navigation still seems straight forward - just keep going up!  

Stay tuned for more up-to-date photos and reports.  

June 12

View of the 1st and 2nd ice pitches
The climbing on the Kautz is in good condition and getting better! The approach to the Castle and Camp Hazard is well traveled easily followed, even during times of low visibility. There are several crevasses opening up on the Nisqually, and the Wilson Glacier. Their are also some cracks opening up along the ridge traverse over to the Castle. The current approach crosses some of these emerging crevasses so be on the lookout.
The camping is mostly snow and there is some snow melt water at camp hazard. You should bring a stove to melt snow because conditions and snow melt change daily. 

Fixed Line at 11,200'
The fixed rope at 11,200 ft. that is used to access the Kautz Glacier has been dug out and is accessible. As another option, there are two quick links on this fixed rope at the top. These links can be used for rappelling on your personal rope. As a safety reminder, the fixed line is used frequently and should be inspected before using to ensure it is in good condition.

The the climbing on the lower ice pitch is varied and speckled with snow horns. There is a climable line of ice that is relatively free of these horns on the climbers far left.  Look for a black streak of ice. The upper ice pitch has a thin line of snow down the middle the shoot. Don't be fooled by its appearance. The snow is very thin and is ice directly below the surface. Currently the choice line for the upper pitch is the obvious ice just to the right of this snow line. This ice line is more than 60 meters long and growing, so bring the appropriate number of screws for your group.

1st Ice Pitch
There is a V-thread anchor at the top of this ice pitch for descending. Use caution with any V-thread anchor as it made of ice, and will melt out and become unsafe and unreliable. The climbing above the upper ice pitch is business as usual. Expect standard glacier travel with some crevasse crossings and great views. Overall this is a great introductory ice climbing route with a little bit of everything Mount Rainier has to offer!


June 5

These photos were taken May 25. Since then the "chute" has melted out noticeably and ice is showing in large areas.  A couple of ice screws would be recommended. Two tools might be nice also, especially if you are less confident on exposed moderate ice. Otherwise route looks great!


April 9