Mount Rainier / Cascades

Cascades Conditions Report 8/25/23

Tahoma (Mount Rainier)
The trail from Paradise to Pebble Creek is snow free and we recommend climbers use a trail shoe for this section. The Muir snowfield is firm and large sections are melted down to the glacial ice. Crampons are being using on the snowfield to access to camp Muir.

From Camp Muir the route to high camp has changed over the past week as the Cowlitz Glacier has become more crevassed. Cathedral gap is fully dry with no seasonal snow remaining. Once on top of Cathedral gap there is a low traverse across to Dunn’s Roll which is melted down to glacial ice. Another 10 mins of walking and climbers are at high camp.

On the the mountain yesterday, Director of Operations Jonathon Spitzer and Senior guide Jangbu Sherpa climbed to 13,600 ft connecting a new route to the preexisting track to the summit. The route is the same to the top of the cleaver as previous condition reports. Above the cleaver the climbing is steep with large penitenties that climbers must climb over. There are multiple large crevasse crossings and the route does not yet have a well established track. Guide service and working on establishing a more robust climbing path to the summit.

Further updates on the route will be posted as more information develops.

CASCADES CONDITIONS REPORT 8/16/2023

We have officially launched our 2024 Rainier and Cascades dates today! Check out website for 2024 dates and we would recommend booking early as they sell out quickly. This week the Pacific Northwest has been under a heat advisory and heat warning for the last 3 days. Temperatures in greater Seattle area have hit the mid/upper 90’s and freezing levels on Mt Rainier have been over 17,000ft. The heat wave is expected to continue through Thursday with a cooling trend forecasted over the weekend into next week.
Tahoma (Mt. Rainier)
On the Muir route, the trail to the Muir snowfield is snow free. We have switched to using trail shoes to access the Pebble Creek. Once on the Muir snowfield climbers are switching to mountain boots. The seasonal snow on the Muir snowfield is melting quickly and sections have melted out already to bare ice and rock. Climbers are now renting crampons from the Alpine Ascents office and may be using them while on the Muir snowfield. Guides will determine if they are needed while on the route to Camp Muir. Above Camp Muir the route has changed over the past week from the above seasonal average temperatures. There is a well-established climbing path across the Cowlitz to reach high camp. The seasonal snow on Cathedral Gap has melted off, climbers can expect to travel on dirt through this section. Above high camp the route ascends the Ingraham, crosses a ladder at High Crack and traverses to the Disappointment Cleaver. Access to the Disappointment Cleaver has melted out and changed. Seasonal snow on the DC has melted off, the route climbs on a broken dirt path. From the top of the Cleaver, the route is becoming more broken with crevasses. On August 15 a large crevasse has opened and with the incredibly hot temperatures our team did not make a summit attempt today. We have senior staff guides on the mountain working to re-establish a climbing route to the summit. Stuart Robertson and Jonathon Spitzer are up on the mountain evaluating conditions and working to put in a new route when temperatures cool off this weekend.
As mentioned in our previous post we finished our climbing season on the Kautz and Emmons routes for the summer. We had great success on both routes this summer, with 6 of our 7 Kautz teams reaching the summit and 8 of our 10 Emmons teams reaching the summit. We look forward to returning to both routes in the 2024 season! On the Muir route, we are still seeing teams summiting daily. Looking back on our season thus far we have seen around 90% of our 3 Day Muir teams summit Tahoma. We hope to continue our success into the end of the season!

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Komo Kulshan (Mount Baker) & North Cascades
Our 3 Day and 6 Day teams on Komo Kulshan are still summiting regularly. All the camps on Kulshan have running water and trail shoes are recommend to access camps. The Easton route has changed over the past week with the incredibly warm temperatures. Climbers can expect to travel on glacial ice in sections as the seasonal snow is all melted off the lower glacier. The upper mountain is a mixture of seasonal firm neve snow and glacial ice. Over in the North Cascades National Park guides have been climbing Shuksan both via the Sulfide and Fisher Chimney route. Both are in excellent condition, running water at camp and the Shuksan summit pyramid is snow free. Deeper in the North Cascades teams on Forbidden Peak are climbing the West Ridge. There is a road closure on Highway 20 due to the Sourdough Fire in the North Cascades National Park. A fire near Washington Pass in the Blue Lakes area has prompted a closure to the Washington Pass climbing zone.

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Happy climbing,

Cascades Conditions Report 8/9/2023

Tahoma (Mt. Rainier)
We have officially finished our climbing season on the Kautz and Emmons routes for the summer. We had great success on both routes this summer, with 6 of our 7 Kautz teams reaching the summit and 8 of our 10 Emmons teams reaching the summit. We look forward to returning to both routes in the 2024 season! On the Muir route, we are still seeing teams summiting daily. Looking back on our season thus far we have seen around 90% of our 3 Day Muir teams summit Tahoma. We hope to continue our success into the end of the season!

On the Muir route, the trail to the Muir snowfield is snow free. We have switched to using trail shoes to access the Pebble Creek. Once on the Muir snowfield climbers are switching to mountain boots. The seasonal snow on the Muir snowfield is melting quickly and sections have melted out already to bare ice and rock. Climbers are now renting crampons from the Alpine Ascents office and may be using them while on the Muir snowfield, guides will determine if they are needed while on the route. Above Camp Muir the route is in good condition with teams summiting daily. There is a well established climbing path across the Cowlitz to reach high camp. The seasonal snow on Cathedral Gap has melted off, climbers can expect to travel on dirt through this section. Above high camp the route ascends the Abraham, crosses a ladder at High Crack and traverses to the Disappointment Cleaver. Seasonal snow on the DC has melted off, the route climbs on a broken dirt path. From the top of the Cleaver, the route is becoming more broken with crevasses. While the route is established it is slowly becoming more challenging and exposed as it traverses out to the Emmons. Climbers should anticipate crossing several ladders above the DC with the route taking an approximate 4.5 hours from Ingraham Flats to the Columbia Crest.

Komo Kulshan (Mount Baker) & North Cascades

Our 3 Day and 6 Day teams on Komo Kulshan are still summiting regularly. All the camps on Kulshan have running water and trail shoes are recommend to access camps. The Easton route is in great shape, some crevasses are opening but guides are still navigating the terrain well. Over in the North Cascades National Park guides have been climbing Shuksan both via the Sulfide and Fisher Chimney route. Both are in excellent condition, running water at camp and the Shuksan summit pyramid is snow free. Deeper in the North Cascades teams on Forbidden Peak are climbing the West Ridge via the Cat Scratch gullies. A recent large rockfall event took place on the approach to Sharkfin tower and at this time we are not guiding that route. Outside North Cascades National Park, teams have been climbing successfully on Mt Olympus and Glacier peak both mountains are in excellent condition. There is a road closure on Highway 20 due to the Sourdough Fire, the road is closed between mile parkers 120 (Newhalem) and 139 (NPS boundary).

CASCADES CONDITIONS REPORT 7/26/2023

Earlier this week we had the first substantial rain in Western Washington since June 21. Yes that is over 33 days without measurable precipitation in Cascades. Washington is still in a drought and sunny skies have returned to Cascades with a slow warm up over the week. The long term weather forecast models show more sunny skies in ahead.

Please note, we have switched to using single mountaineering boots on our 3 Day Rainier and 3 Day Baker climb. We are also now using approach shoes for both Baker and Rainier programs. If you have questions regarding footwear please give our gear department a call 206-378-1927 or email us at [email protected].

Tahoma (Mt. Rainier)
Our last, 10 day mountaineering school which makes and attempt via the Kautz was unsuccessful due to inclement weather. We look forward to returning to the Kautz route in 2024. Over on the Emmons side, our July 13-20 8 day Emmons trip was successful. We have another 8 day Emmons trip that is in the process of moving up to high-camp and will be making a summit attempt tomorrow (July 27th).

On the Muir route, the trail to the Muir snowfield is snow free. We have switched to using trail shoes to access the Pebble Creek. Once on the Muir snowfield climbers are switching to mountain boots. The seasonal snow on the Muir snowfield is melting quickly and sections have melted out already to bare ice and rock. Above Camp Muir the route is in good condition with teams summiting daily. The route now has several ladders and adjuncts to help aid climbers in there ascent. Once on the Disappointment Cleaver climbers will find the seasonal snow to be almost all melted off the Cleaver and dry rock to the top of the Cleaver. Once at the top of the Cleaver the route is changing quickly due to the prolonged warm weather. The route heads up and then traverses out towards the Emmons shoulder at around 13,000ft. This route is still relatively direct and does not add that much time to the climb. The new re-route connects back to the old climbing route at around 13,700. Once on the older (previous route) it is direct to the crater rim.

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Komo Kulshan (Mount Baker) & North Cascades
Our final North Ridge of Baker trip finished up last week with 100% of the climbers reaching the summit. The North Ridge route is melting out quickly due to the prolonged warm weather. Other climbing routes on Komo Kulshan are still in excellent conditions. All the camps on Kulshan have running water and trail shoes are recommend to access camps. Over in the North Cascades National Park guides have been climbing Shuksan both via the Sulfide and Fisher Chimney route. Both are in excellent condition, running water at camp and the Shuksan summit pyramid is snow free. Deeper in the North Cascades teams on Forbidden Peak are climbing the West Ridge via the Cat Scratch gullies. A recent large rockfall event took place on the approach to Sharkfin tower and at this time we are not guiding that route. Outside North Cascades National Park, teams have been climbing successfully on Mt Olympus and Glacier peak both mountains are in excellent condition.

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We have had reports that the mosquitos are coming out so, bring your bug spray!!
Thank you for following our blog and happy climbing!

Cascades Conditions Report 7/20/2023

Warm temperatures and sunny skies continue to dominate the PNW. Today the freezing level for Mountain Rainier is just above the summit and is forecasted to continue to be sunny and warm over the next week. If you are interested in following the weather on Mt Rainier we recommend the Mt Rainier Recreational Forecast.

With the warm temperatures please note, we have switched to using single mountaineering boots on our 3 Day Rainier and 3 Day Baker climb. We are also now using approach shoes for both Baker and Rainier programs. If you have questions regarding footwear please give our gear department a call 206-378-1927 or email us at [email protected].

Tahoma (Mt. Rainier)
Our July 13-20 8 day Emmons trip summited yesterday. The route is becoming more broken but guides are still finding a route to the summit. The guide team noted the Inter-Glaciers’ seasonal snowpack is mostly melted off and firm cramponing to get to Camp Schurman. On the upper mountain of the Emmons the route is direct above Camp Schurman climbing the Corridor. Above the Corridor the route zig zags through several crevasses on an ascending traverse out towards the Liberty Cap saddle at 13,600ft. From Liberty Cap saddle it is a direct 800ft to the summit crater.
On the Muir route, the trail to the Muir snowfield is around 90% snow free but melting quickly. We have switched to using trail shoes to access the Pebble Creek. Once on the Muir snowfield climbers are switching to mountain boots. Above Camp Muir the route is in good condition with teams summiting daily. A ladder has been installed at “High crack” which is just above high camp at 11,400ft. Once on the Disappointment Cleaver climbers will find the seasonal snow to be almost all melted off. At the top of the Cleaver the route is changing quickly due to the prolonged warm weather. Guide teams are working on establishing a variation to the route that goes out towards the Emmons Shoulder at 13,000ft and will re-connect with the climbing route at 13,800ft. Once over the final shrund it is a straight shot to the crater rim.

Komo Kulshan (Mount Baker) & North Cascades
Komo Kulshan continues to be an excellent training ground for our mountaineering schools and introduction to mountaineering climbers. Currently climbers are reaching the summit via the Northside and Southside. The trail to Sandy Camp (Southside) is 95% snow free and we are recommending using a trail shoe to access camp. On the upper mountain the route is direct and climber friendly. Over on the Northside, teams are walking the road to access the trailhead. The MBFS does not have a projected timeline for the road to be repaired. There is running water on both sides of the mountain where camps are. Our North Ridge Baker Climb just summited two days ago and reported the route was starting to become broken and become more challenging. In the North Cascades reports are good for climbing conditions on Forbidden Peak, Eldorado, and Shuksan. Guides noted that many of the glaciers are becoming dry and firm showing signs of typically we see in middle of August.

We have had reports that the mosquitos are coming out so, bring your bug spray!!

Thank you for following our blog and happy climbing!

I understand the course to be an introduction to the sport and an exposure to the skills needed to minimize risk and enjoy the settings to the fullest. My intentions are to continue climbing for many years to come and I will absolutely consider Alpine Ascents my first choice for guiding on any of them as well as possibly attending some of the more advanced climbing courses offered.

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