Mount Rainier National Park
|Nisqually Glacier, Mt. Rainier|
Mount Rainier, the most heavily glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, offers an exciting challenge to the mountaineer. This 14,410-foot active volcano is successfully climbed each year by thousands of people.
Reaching the summit requires a vertical elevation gain of more than 9,000 feet over a distance of eight or more miles. Climbers must be in good physical condition, well prepared, and experienced in glacier travel. Proper physical conditioning can offset the effects of fatigue that lead to mistakes and injuries.
Weather, snow, and route conditions can change rapidly and may make the difference between a pleasant and rewarding experience or tragedy. Obtain a current weather forecast before beginning a climb. Turn back if weather conditions deteriorate. Severe winter-like storms on the mountain are not uncommon during summer.
High camps on the standard routes are located at Camp Muir on the south side and Camp Schurman on the east side.
Camp Muir: Located at 10,188 feet, facilities include a Ranger Station, solar toilet, and the Muir Public Shelter, which will accommodate approximately 25 people on a first-come, first-served basis.
Camp Schurman: Located at 9,702 feet, facilities include a Ranger Station and a solar toilet. Climbers must melt snow for drinking water at both high camps. Treat or boil water.
Winter storms on Mount Rainier are frequent and severe, with high winds, deep snow, and extremely poor visibility. Winter conditions generally exist from mid-September to mid-May. All parties attempting a winter ascent should be experienced in winter mountaineering, avalanche forecasting and rescue, and be familiar with the intended routes of ascent and descent.
Park rangers keep close tabs on those attempting to climb Mt. Rainier. Expect to register with a ranger, pay a climbing fee, and observe low-impact camping regulations on your trip. Solo climbers traveling anywhere on the glaciers must obtain written permission from the Park Superintendent to climb.
Climbing Permits and Fees
Climbers must register to go above 10,000 feet or to travel onto glaciers. Primary registration locations are the Paradise Ranger Station, White River Wilderness Information Center, and the Wilkeson Ranger Station. Be sure to contact one of these information centers prior to your climb.
Dealing with trash and toilets are two problems you can be sure to encounter if you plan on visiting Rainier's higher elevations. Since thousands of people journey to the summit and day hike to the high camps every year at Rainier, dealing with waste has become very controlled.
There are toilet facilities at the two high camps, Camp Schurman and Camp Muir, but they are not to be used as trash cans. If you plan on going above the high camps, talk with park rangers about the "blue bag" protocol currently being used to deal with human waste.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication