Kautz Glacier 2015

August 30, 2015

It's getting to be that time of year where the non standard routes (routes other than the highly traveled DC and Emmons) are seeing substantially less climbing traffic.  Upper mountain terrain is becoming very featured and broken which results in substantially difficult terrain navigation and route finding.  As we move into the fall months, these routes are becoming much more dangerous from objective hazard such as rock fall, ice fall, unstable snow bridges, decompensating plugs, and long deep crevasses that are difficult to navigate around.  It is highly recommended to wait until next climbing season to attempt these routes and allow the winter months to heal the current upper mountain conditions.

July 31, 2015
Below Camp Hazard

With continued interest and many parties registering for Kautz Glacier climbs a Climbing Ranger Team made another assent of the route late last week. Conditions were largely unchanged from the previous post with two large 60m pitches of ice. The ice was still brittle and managing ice fall for your self and other parties on the route is a priority. With the current warm conditions the ice may be wet and sticky for current climbing.

For the most direct route trend to the right hand side of the upper ice pitch which will help you avoid a heavily crevassed area, and access the upper cirque. From the Wapowety cleaver cross a manageable ice jumble and traverse to intersect the current DC route at just under 13600ft.  Great route in a beautiful setting.

First Ice Pitch

July 22, 2015

Rangers did another patrol on the Kautz this last week.  Approaching through Van Trump Park via the Comet Falls Trail Head offered a nice gradual climb out of the forest and onto the route.  The unmaintained part of the trail, after turning off of Comet Falls, is easy to follow and well kicked in.  There's running water along this approach in multiple locations.

The "Upper Castle" rock formation on the ridge between the Wilson Glacier and Kautz Glaciers at 9600' offers multiple great tent sites.  There's running water here too - right at the base of the Turtle Snowfield.

Snow on the Turtle Snowfield is hanging around making for easy cramponing up to the short rock-step down climb.  There's also still some great tent sites just before this rock-step, around 10,500 feet.  This puts climbers a bit higher on the route making for shorter summit days.

The two ice pitches are lengthening as the snow melts away.  The lower pitch has about 50 meters of ice exposed and the upper has about 60 meters.  Remember to be cautious of ice fall when leading.  Instead of leading straight up, traversing a diagonal route can help protect your partner below while belaying.  If choosing to simul-climb, be extra-cautious!  The potential "dinner plates" you're knocking off could cause your second climber to fall.  Parties above the first ice-pitch and starting to climb the second should consider where ice chunks that they might knock off will end up.  If it's a crowded day, work together on route to keep everyone safe.

Above the second ice pitch, climbers are faced with a choice to climb up left towards Point Success or veer climber's right over to Wapowety Cleaver and traverse up toward the DC route above the Nisqually Cleaver.  Ascending to Point Success adds a bit more elevation gain and length to the route.   Heading across the Wapowety Cleaver forces climbers to navigate through quite a ice-block jumble and cross large crevasses to around 13,600 feet where the DC route can be accessed.  

July 1st, 2015

Current Conditions of the Kautz Glacier, Mount Rainier National Park

The Kautz is seeing lots of activity lately. It is in good shape and climbing well. Use caution while climbing on the ice pitches and don't climb directly below other parties. This picture is courtesy of "Jason Ramsdell"

June 28th, 2015

Rangers made a patrol up the Kautz Glacier route from the Comet Falls trailhead on June 28th. The approach through Van Trump Park is a pleasant, albeit longer, alternative to slogging on a glacier during the recent sunny, warm days we have been having here.

The Castle and the area just below Camp Hazard have running water and plenty of bivy sites have melted out. Please use only the established sites; it is unnecessary to build your own. Also, please remember to pack out your blue bags! Leaving them sitting under a rock for some unfortunate soul to happen upon is poor form.

Getting onto the Kautz from Camp Hazard is a matter of a short down climb right now, no rappel needed. The lower ice pitch is almost completely ice and the second pitch is mostly ice. Expect large suncups on the snow covered portions of the route. Above the ice pitches, the route is straightforward but circuitous to the top of the Wapowety Cleaver. Getting off the Wapowety Cleaver and continuing towards the Summit currently requires crossing an unlikely looking snow bridge that may cease to exist at some point soon. At that point,an alternative route or crossing will be needed. Above the Wapowety, climbing is straightforward on consolidated snow to the Summit.

With the exceptionally warm temperatures, early starts and fast travel are recommended to avoid hazardous rock and ice fall.

Crossing onto the Kautz Glacier

Climbing the first ice pitch

Independent climbers near the top of the Wapowety Cleaver

June 18, 2015

Kautz Glacier, Mount Rainier National Park

The snowpack on Kautz Glacier is starting to dwindle around the upper and lower ice pitches. The lower ice pitch is mostly melted out and the upper in not far behind. The route above the ice climbing is holding together nicely. There has been several parties that have climbed the route recently leaving a well defined boot pack leading to the summit. The route will continue to improve over the few weeks as the upper ice pitch becomes more exposed.

June 1, 2015
Rangers have yet to get out for a patrol on the Kautz, however conditions have been reported as favorable by several private parties. Two climbers completed a carry over, descending the DC yesterday.