Mount Rainier / Cascades

Cascades Conditions Report 9/26/2022

Mount Rainier (Tahoma)
Autumn is in full swing with cool night and sunny days in the Pacific Northwest. Our climbing operations are slowly closing for the summer climbing season. On Mount Rainier (Tahoma), the route to the summit has become broken and more challenging over the weekend with the continued unseasonable warm temperatures. Our last trip wrapped up on September 25 as a training skills seminar based out of Camp Muir and Ingraham Flats (High Camp). This week, our guides are up at Camp Muir closing operations and storing equipment till spring of 2023.

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Photos by Morgan McGonagle

North Cascades
Over the weekend our last Mount Baker (Komo Kulshan) trip finished up with 100% success. The route to the summit is still in good climbing condition and other teams are continuing to make ascents of the Easton glacier. We look forward to returning to the Easton and Coleman Deming Glacier in 2023 for our summit climbs and training seminars. The Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest has announced the road to Heliotrope Ridge trailhead (Northside of Mount Baker) will likely stay closed for next summer as they continue to repair the FS road access.

It’s been a wonderful summer with consistent sunny skies over the Cascades. A local article highlighted that this was one of the warmest summers on record for Seattle. Our teams certainly enjoyed the ample amount of sunshine and dry conditions as they have allowed for a high summit success rate.
We are already excited for 2023 spring and can’t wait to return to the Cascade summits!

Happy Climbing,

Alpine Ascents Team

Cascades Conditions Report 9/16/2022

Over the past 7 days, Washington has battled several large forest fires. The Bolt Creek Fire near Highway 2 (Stevens Pass) started on 9/10 has grown to around 10,000 acres. Highway 2 is still closed as of today (9/16). In the North Cascades several wildfires have closed access to the PCT and remote climbing areas. Southeast of Mt Rainier near Packwood there is a fire burning slowly. The recent rain fall and cooler temps this week have help slow down the spread of these fires and pushed the smoke out of western Washington.
In the Pacific Northwest, we have seen a shift in the weather pattern from as we enter the middle of September. Onshore flow has brought marine level clouds and precipitation in the Cascades. Cooler temperatures have arrived with freezing levels below 10,000ft. Click here for an updated weather forecast for Mt Rainier.

Mount Rainier (Tahoma)
Our 9/13-9/15 Muir climb was able to reach the summit. The photos seen here are from their trip. Guides reported amazing weather as they climbed above the clouds on the upper mountain. From Ingraham Flats (High Camp), climbers ascend uphill for approx. 15 mins before crossing a triple ladder before to reach the base of the Disappointment Cleaver. From the top of the DC the route ascend uphill and then traverse out right towards the Emmons Glacier crossing a few crevasses with running belays. At 13,700 a large crevasse has formed which the route currently parallels alongside to end run this crevasse. After crossing the 13,700 crevasse the route is direct up to Columbia Crest. Guides reported yesterday (9/15) the route was around 5.5-6hrs from High Camp to reach the summit.

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North Cascades
Komo Kulshan (Mt. Baker)- On 9/13 Alpine Ascents International, along side other guide services participated in the Mt Baker Clean Up. Over 15 guides from across the Pacific Northwest join in this event to help clean up trash and human waste that was left on the mountain. The goal of this event is to clean up the mountain as well as education to the importance of following LNT principles in the mountains.
The climbing route on Mt Baker (Komo Kulshan) is in excellent climbing conditions. The Easton route is direct up to the Crater Rim and the Easton Headwall/Roman Wall has a well established climbing path leading to the summit plateau.
North Cascades – Teams continue to explore the North Cascades, with successful Shuksan, Forbidden, Eldorado, and ascents in the Pickets. Generally the North Cascades have excellent climbing conditions as the ample spring snowfall has helped keep the smaller pocket style glaciers filled in allowing for easy travel. The vast majority of alpine rock and alpine ridgelines are snow free along for technical alpine ascents. Recently guides have reported great climbing conditions on Forbidden Peak and Shuksan noting that conditions are more favorable than previous climbing seasons. Climbing in Washington Pass is snow free now and boots/crampons/ice axe are no longer needed.

Cascades Conditions Report 9/9/2022

Early September has seen amazing weather. There have been sunny skies and generally calm winds across the state with little precipitation this month so far. The current weather pattern is status quo as we expect similar weather across the Cascades for the next 5 days. With the dry hot temperatures there is an increase in potential for wildfires and smoke in the Pacific Northwest.

Mount Rainier (Tahoma)
Our 9/5-9/7 Muir climb was successful with 100% of climbers reaching the summit. The prolonged warm temperatures over the past month has caused the route to shift. The hike up to Camp Muir is snow free till the Muir Snowfield. There is a well established track up the Muir Snowfield to Camp Muir. From Camp Muir the route crosses the Cowlitz Glacier up towards Ingraham Flats. From High Camp (Ingraham Flats), climbers ascend uphill for approx. 15mins before crossing a triple ladder before reaching the base of the Disappointment Cleaver. From the top of the DC the route ascend uphill and then traverse out right towards the Emmons Glacier. Climbers can expect to encounter adjuncts (ladders, pickets, fixed lines) along the route. Guides reported it is currently taking around 5.5hrs from Ingraham Flats for climbers to reach the summit Columbia Crest.

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North Cascades
Komo Kulshan (Mt. Baker)- We have seen little change over past couple weeks. The mountain is climbed daily via the Coleman Deming (CD) and Easton routes. Guides report the mountain is in excellent condition and we look forward to running trips until the end of September. Currently guide teams are reporting excellent climbing conditions on the upper mountain with a well-established track on the Easton and Roman Headwalls. Guides have reported that the Squak Glacier route is becoming broken and difficult to travel. The Schreiber’s Meadow trailhead to access the Easton Glacier is snow free all the way to Sandy Camp. Above Sandy Camp the mountain is still fully snow covered. On the North side of the mountain, FS Road 39 is still closed due to the washout at mile 3.8. Trails are dry to Hogsback camp just below 6,000 ft on the North side. It is unknown at this time when the FS will repair Road 39.

North Cascades – Teams continue to explore the North Cascades, with successful Shuksan, Forbidden, Eldorado, and ascents in the Pickets. Generally the North Cascades have excellent climbing conditions as the ample spring snowfall has helped keep the smaller pocket style glaciers filled in allowing for easy travel. The vast majority of alpine rock and alpine ridgelines are snow free along for technical alpine ascents. Recently guides have reported great climbing conditions on Forbidden Peak and Shuksan noting that conditions are more favorable than previous climbing seasons. Climbing in Washington Pass is snow free now and boots/crampons/ice axe are no longer needed.

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Cascades Conditions Report 8/25/2022

August has been an amazing month of clear skies and calm winds across the Cascade crest. We look to remain in similar pattern with possibly a small impulse of light off-shore systems providing low level cloud and cooling temperatures. Here is a link to the general forecast for the Cascades. Generally climbing conditions across the state are phenomenal largely due to the abundant amount of snowfall this winter and spring. At this time we anticipate good climbing conditions through the end of September on all Cascade peaks.

With the prolonged dry period we are starting to get reports of small wildfires in the Cascades. Recently there was a small wildfire reported in the Chilliwack/Hannegan Pass area. All recreationalist should take adequate measure to prevent forest fires. Here is a video from one of our co-works talking about forest fires.

Mount Rainier (Tahoma)
At this time teams are making the ascent to the summit only via the Disappointment Cleaver route through Camp Muir. The trail to the Muir Snowfield is snow free and there is a good track up the Muir snowfield. The climbing route from Camp Muir to High Camp is well established, there are a few crevasses crossing along the way. On the upper mountain above High Camp, there are several adjunctions (ladders) in place to aid climbers in the ascent- the first being out of high camp at 11,400ft. The cleaver is snow free and climbers are following the summer route on the rock. Above the cleaver, the route is direct with a few switchbacks and another ladder crossing at 13,100. The remainder of the route to Columbia Crest is direct and well established.

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North Cascades
Komo Kulshan (Mt. Baker)- We have seen little change over past couple week. The mountain is climbed daily via the Coleman Deming (CD), Easton, and Squak glaciers. The Schreiber’s Meadow trailhead to access the Easton Glacier is snow free all the way to Sandy Camp. Above Sandy Camp the mountain is still fully snow covered. Currently guide teams are reporting excellent climbing conditions on the upper mountain with a well established track on the Easton and Roman headwalls.
On the North side of the mountain, FS Road 39 is still closed due to the washout at mile 3.8. Trails are dry to Hogsback camp just below 6,000 ft on the North side.

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North Cascades- Teams continue to explore the North Cascades, with successful Shuksan summits via both the Sulfide Glacier and Fisher Chimneys. Guides are reporting the summit pyramid of Shuksan to be a mix of snow and rock with excellent alpine climbing conditions. Teams have been climbing the SE ridge to reach the summit of Shuksan. We recently had a team summit Forbidden Peak and reported great conditions. Climbers are currently accessing the West Ridge via the Cat Scratch Gullies. The small pocket glacier below the large South Face of Forbidden has not yet released.
Climbing in Washington Pass is snow free now and boots/crampons/ice axe are no longer needed.

General Cascades
While our Rainier and Baker climbs have been the spotlight of our season thus far, we have launched our Glacier and Olympus climbs over the past weeks. Although there are still large amounts of snow in the North Cascades, teams highlight the beautiful conditions prevailing the Pacific Northwest with many successful summits. With the sun continuing to shine, we’ll be out frolicking and picking blueberries!’

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Cascades Conditions Report 8/11

High pressure continues to dominate the Pacific Northwest. Guide teams are still reporting excellent climbing conditions across the state. The upcoming forecast continues to look favorable with more sunny skies ahead. The large spring and early summer snowfall has caused the mountains to be in excellent condition this time of year.
Mount Rainier
We saw little change on the mountain in the recent week. Tahoma (Mt. Rainier) is melting out slowly from the massive spring storms. Climbers are now using trail shoes to approach the Muir Snowfield. Small patches of snow are crossed on the way up to Pebble Creek. Once at the base of the Muir Snowfield it is consistent snow to Camp Muir. The upper mountain continues to be in good shape with teams reaching the summit in 4-5hrs from High Camp via the DC route. En-route to the summit there is currently a ladder crossing at high crack (11,300ft) and at 13,100ft. The route is well established and teams are summitting daily. Our teams have finished climbing on the Emmons and Kautz routes for the season.

cascades conditions report 8/11

North Cascades
Komo Kulshan (Mt. Baker)- We have seen little change over the past week since our last update. The mountain is continuing to get climbed daily the Coleman Deming (CD), Easton, and Squak glaciers. On our 3 Day Baker programs, access to Sandy Camp is snow free all the way to camp. Above Sandy Camp is still fully snow covered. The Schreiber’s Meadow trailhead to access the Easton Glacier has finally melted out, cars are now parking at the trailhead. On the North side of the mountain, FS Road 39 is still closed due to the washout at mile 3.8. Trails are dry to Hogsback camp just below 6,000 ft on the North side. On the Northside of Mt Baker guides are reporting excellent climbing conditions on the North Ridge route. The route currently has two pitches of 70 degree ice climbing. The lower Coleman glacier to access the North Ridge is currently not broken up at this time.
North Cascades- Teams continue to explore the North Cascades, with successful Shuksan summits via both the Sulfide Glacier and Fisher Chimneys. Guides are reporting the summit pyramid of Shuksan to be a mix of snow and rock with excellent alpine climbing conditions. Teams have been climbing the SE ridge to reach the summit of Shuksan. Deeper in the North Cascades teams have been making successful ascents of Forbidden Peak, Eldorado, and Sahale. Guides are reporting good climbing conditions on all routes at this time. For access to the West Ridge of Forbidden teams are climbing the ‘Cat Scratch Gullies’.
Climbing in Washington Pass is snow free now and boots/crampons/ice axe is no longer needed.
General Cascades
While our Rainier and Baker climbs have been the spotlight of our season thus far, we have launched our Glacier and Olympus climbs over the past weeks. Although there are still large amounts of snow in the North Cascades, teams highlight the beautiful conditions prevailing the Pacific Northwest with many successful summits. Summer brought the sunshine, find us in the mountains!

My initial thought was that the cost of this trip was significantly higher than competing companies and I wondered what the “value” was in a premium trip. I now know the value is about on-going safety of clients on the mountain, a high degree of luxury on the safari (especially needed after the mountain experience) and the fact that logistically, I had every assurance all details were looked after.

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