4-Day Kautz Glacier Climb Day-to-Day Itinerary
The Day Before the Climb.
Climbers are required to arrive in Seattle the afternoon before our trip begins. That afternoon at 2:00pm you will be met at our office by a guide and our gear manager to give you an overview of the climb, answer all your questions and make sure you have all your equipment or rental gear necessary for the climb. The guide will also give you instruction in Leave No Trace (appropriate wilderness practices) and discuss the National Park Mission Statement. You will then return to your hotel for an early morning pick up on Day 1.
On the first day of the climb we meet at the Alpine Ascents Office at 6:00am, where we pack up the van and drive to Mount Rainier. There we meet three more Alpine Ascents guides that morning.
After breakfast we drive into Rainier National Park to a destination known as Paradise (5,400 ft). This beautiful area is the start for many nature hikes and is the starting point for our climb to Camp Muir (10,080ft). After donning our packs we will hike park trails to Glacier Vista where we have excellent views of Mt. Rainier, Mt Adams and Mt Saint Helens. We descend 400 feet to the Nisqually Glacier, rope up and traverse across the glacier to a prominent snow chute know as the “Fan”. After ascending the Fan we follow a ridge along up the west side of the Wilson Glacier to our first camp at approximately 8000 ft. Review of climbing techniques for the climb will be covered along the way.
We pack up our camp and climb towards a steep snow slope know as the Turtle. The Kautz Glacier and our routes stand before us during our climb up the Turtle to our high camp on the Wapowety Cleaver. Our exact site depends on conditions but will be approximately 9,500'-10,500', where we establish a good camp. We have an early dinner and discuss the summit climb in detail, then go to bed early in preparation for our pre dawn start for the summit.
We rise early, eat breakfast and rope up for our ascent. From High Camp we climb up to a small rock cliff & either lower climbers down or rappel to the base. We traverse the base of the Kautz ice cliffs then descend west for a few hundred feet to an ice gully which takes us to the tongue of the Kautz glacier. We ascend steep snow and sometimes hard ice (35-50 degrees) for a couple of pitches on the tongue of this glacier to reach the Kautz Glacier proper. These pitches can prove to be very exciting climbing and are the crux of the climb. If conditions require we will place running belays or fix lines through this area for safely and to assist us on our descent. From here we traverse up and right towards the Apex of the Wapowety Cleaver. We cross the cleaver and continue on through more moderate slopes to Columbia Crest, the true summit of Mount Rainier. After summitting we descend our route back to High Camp for the night.
Descend from High Camp back though the Fan then crossing the Nisqually Glacier, and return to Paradise where the van is parked. We trade climbing boots for tennis shoes and drive back to Seattle for a shower and a night of dining and celebrating.