Mount Rainier

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Washington, United States, North America
14411 ft / 4392 m
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Mount Rainier
Created On: Mar 28, 2001
Last Edited On: May 6, 2015


The mountain was originally named Tahoma or "Great Snowy Peak" by the Yakima Indians. Captain George Vancouver renamed it after Admiral Peter Rainier of the British Navy during a scouting expedition on May 7, 1792. This name was hotly contested for over 100 years, because Americans felt it shouldn't be named after a British officer who had never even been to the U.S.

The first ascent is believed to be in 1852, but is undocumented. The first recorded ascent was on August 17, 1870 by General Hazard Stevens and Philemon Van Trump, via the Gibralter Ledges route. James Longmire introduced the climbing party to the Yakima Indian Sluiskin who provided the party with assistance in getting to the base of the mountain. They climbed in 1 day from their camp just below the Gibralter Ledges. Upon reaching the summit, they nearly collapsed due to exhaustion, but managed to find a steam vent to hide in.

Mount Rainier on March 23,...
South Side

On March 2, 1899 president William McKinley authorized the creation of Mount Rainier National Park protecting 235,625 acres, including over 35 square miles of glaciers blanketing the mountain. There are 25 large named glaciers on Mount Rainier, including the enormous Emmons, which flows down the east face.

It is the highest volcano of the Cascade Range and the fifth highest mountain of the continental USA. This is a huge mountain with multiple glaciers and routes of all technical levels.  Mount Rainier, the most heavily glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, offers an exciting challenge to the mountaineer.  The regularly climbed routes are the Disappointment Cleaver and the Emmons Glacier which are consider class 4 routes. More than 10,000 people a year try to scale this mountain and many expeditions for bigger mountains come to Rainier for their training runs.

Looking up Nisqually Glacier...
Nisqually Glacier

The summit of this mountain is unique to mountains.  There are actually 3 separately classified summits of this peak, Columbia Crest which is the highest point at 14,411 feet, Point Success at 14,158 feet to the southwest, and Liberty Cap at 14,112 feet to the northwest all separated by a large crater.  The most standard routes actually bring you to the crater rim at 14,150 feet.  A lot of climbers consider this as the summit, or close enough, but to attain the true summit, it is an hour walk round trip a quarter mile across the crater to Columbia Crest.  Here you can find a summit log.

 ----  A Word on the Height of the Mountain ----

There has been some questions regarding the true height of the mountain recently.  In books it is reported as 14,410 and 14,411.  There are a couple sources (unofficial) that report as high as 14,414.  However,  the National Park Service and all other official sources recognize the height as 14,411.05 feet. This is based on a recent survey of the mountain. This is 12.6 inches taller than figured in 1956 (hence the 1 foot discrepancy in many books).  Using data from a constellation of satellites and the number-crunching power of modern computers, Bothell surveyor Larry Signani calculated the mountain's height at 14,411.05 feet—just 12.6 inches taller than the official height computed in 1956 by the U.S. Geological Survey, using traditional triangulation methods.  

The new measurement is even closer to the 14,411.1 feet logged in 1988 by many of the same people involved in this latest effort.  The new measurement was made using Global Positioning System, or GPS, data, which surveyors can now use to pinpoint elevations with unprecedented accuracy.   In late August, a team of six surveyors climbed the summit carrying two lightweight GPS receivers, which detect electronic signals from 24 GPS satellites orbiting the earth.   Measurements are calculated by timing how long it takes the satellite signals to reach the receiver and by doing a lot of mathematical gyrations.

Mt. Rainier from above
Mount Rainier
Mt. Rainier in her glorious...
Mount Rainier

Getting There

Mount Rainier National Park has great road access from all directions in the summer, however many of the roads are closed in the winter.  There is an entrance fee of $15.00 for a vehicle.  The pass is good for 7 days.  A Mount Rainier pass is available for purchase and is good for one year.  The price of the pass is $20.00.  Do the math ... if you are going to make more than 2 trips into the park in a given year, consider buying the year long pass.   
David where we dead-ended on...

Following are directions to the climbing access areas:

Paradise, Longmire and Westside Climbing Access:

These climbing routes are accessed through the Nisqually entrance at the southwest corner of Rainier National Park.  This is the only entrance that is open year around.  Access from Yakima is through the Stevens Canyon entrance and is closed in the winter.

From Seattle (Airport):  Take I-5 south to I-405.  Go 3-4 miles on I-405 and take State Route 167 south.  Drive about 21 miles to State Route 512.  In 3 miles, exit on the right onto State Route 161 south.  Stay on 161 through Puyallup and Graham into Eatonville.  Turn left at the stop sign in Eatonville.  There is a sign to Mount Rainier there.  Follow the narrow 2 lane road to the end.  Turn left on SR 7 and continue to the town of Elbe.  Stay left on SR 706 in Elbe and drive approximately 13 miles east through Ashford to the entrance of the park.  (Note:  Ashford in the base for RMI and the Summit House if you are renting equipment or using RMI for a guide service). Once you enter the park, it is about a 30 minute scenic drive to Paradise. From the East: Take I90 west and get off at exit 110 on I82 east. Head south for approximately 30 miles, then turn west unto route 12 just before Yakima. To get to Paradise, continue on route 12 for approx. 60 miles then make a right unto route 123 and follow the signs. For the Emmons glacier route, go 20 miles on route 20, then turn right unto route 410. Once inside the park, make a right on route 123 then a left on Sunrise Park Road. Note that all access to Mount Rainier from the east is closed in the winter and early spring. For a winter climb, first drive to Seattle then follow the directions from there.

Our team on the descent at...

Mowich Lake and Carbon River Climbing Access:

From Seattle (Airport):  Take I-5 south to I-405.  East 3 miles on I-405 then take SR 167 south for 11 miles.  Take SR18 at the Auburn exit.  Follow SR18 for 1 mile to SR164 (Auburn-Enumclaw exit).  Take a left at the stoplight onto SR164 towards Enumclaw.  Take a right on SR410 (stoplight) and go 4 miles to Buckley.  Take a left on SR165.  Follow this road through Wilkeson and Carbonado.  Beyond the 1 lane bridge there will be a fork in the road.  Stay right and continue about 17 miles to Mowich Lake.  If you are going to Ipsut Creek Campground (for Carbon Glacier) stay left at the fork and continue 16 miles to the campground.

Mount Rainier and rime ice on...
Muir Snowfield

White River Climbing Access:

This provides the best entry and exit for the routes on the north and northeast sides of the mountain.

From Seattle (Airport):  Follow directions to SR410 (see above).  Stay on SR410 31 miles east of Enumclaw to the park boundary and arch.  Continue 5 miles to the White River-Sunrise turnoff.  Turn right.  The White River ranger station in 1 mile down that road.

Red Tape/Climbing Permits, Fees and Reservations

From the National Park Service Web Site:

Climbers must register to travel above 10,000 feet or onto glaciers. Primary registration locations are the Paradise Ranger Station, White River Wilderness Information Center, and the Wilkeson Wilderness Information Center. The climbing fee is $45 per person per calendar year. The fee is payable when registering. Climbing fees help recover costs for protecting the mountain's delicate and unique alpine environment, staffing the mountain's high camps and ranger stations with climbing rangers, managing upper mountain human waste and providing rangers who can rapidly respond to incidents on the mountain. For more information on climbing fee check out FAQ's about Climbing Fees

Looking down on the Climbers...
Camp Muir

An in-park Wilderness Reservation System is available for climbers and backpackers planning trips during the May 1 to September 30 period. A reservations office is staffed at the Longmire Wilderness Information Center during the summer months. Beginning April 1st, reservations can be made by printing and completing a Reservation Request Form and faxing it to (360) 569-3131 or mailing it to: Wilderness Reservations Office, Tahoma Woods Star Route, Ashford, WA 98304. Tel. (360) 569-HIKE. There is a $20 reservation fee for advance reservations. This fee is in addition to the climbing permit fee and does not guarantee a spot in the public shelter at Camp Muir. Reservations can be made for trips between May 1st and September 30th.

Each climber must present or purchase their Mount Rainier Climbing Pass and present a valid photo I.D. at the time they register for their climb.

To speed your climbing registration process you may elect to purchase your Mount Rainier Climbing Pass in advance.  Simply download a Climbing Pass Purchase Form, complete the form and fax or mail to the park.

When To Climb

Climbs have been made and are commonly made all year long, but the best period is from May to August. In recent years, Mount Rainier has become quite popular to climb in the winter and early spring. Since the road to Paradise from Longmire is the only plowed access to Rainier this time of year, most ascents are made on the south side of the mountain.

The two standard routes both use the hut at Camp Muir as a high camp. The first route is Gibralter Ledges, usually referred to as the "Gib Ledges", which ascends the ledge system between the Nisquilly and Ingram Glaciers. The other route is the Ingram Glacier Direct or as a variation late in the season Disappointment Cleaver route, which is used by Rainier Mountaineering from December to the end of May for their clients. If you take the Ingram route during heavy snow conditions, do not cut through Cadever Gap. Several parties have died from avalanches here. See the table below for the full descriptions of routes and their approaches.


Camp Schurman, in June 04
Camp Shurman from above

Parties may camp for a maximum of 14 days in the backcountry.  Maximum party size is 12 people, with any team larger than 5 considered a group.   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 10,080 ft., 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.  Tent camping on the glacier is another alternative.  There is a hut at Camp Muir that is only for Rainier Mountaineering Inc.  Unless you are climbing with them, you may not use it or the facilities associated with it.

Our camp and the Ingraham...
Camping on Ingraham Flats

Camp Schurman: Located at 9,440 ft., facilities include a Ranger Station and a solar toilet.  Tent camping on the glacier.

Sunrise from Mount Rainier s...
Sunrise on Liberty Ridge

Climbers must melt snow for drinking water at both high camps. Treat or boil water.

Additional Camping Information:

Location Max Number of People
Muir Snowfield 36
Camp Muir 110
Ingraham Flats 35
Camp Hazard 36
Kautz Alpine Zone 36
Camp Schurman 48
Emmons Flats 24
Thumb Rock 12
Rainier Summit 36


Route Overview

Route NameDurationDifficulty (Alpine Grade)Elevation GainMax GradeSeasonApproach
Disappointment Cleaver2 daysII9,000 feet35 degreesJune to Sept.Paradise
Ingraham Glacier Direct2 daysII9,000 feet35 degreesJanuary to MayParadise
Ingraham, Gibraltar Rock2 daysII9,000 feet50 degreesJanuary to MayParadise
Gibraltar Rock2-3 daysV9,000 feet80 degreesJanuary to MayParadise
Gibraltar Ledges2 daysII9,000 feet50 degreesJanuary to MayParadise
Gibraltar Chute2 daysII9,000 feet50 degreesJanuary to JuneParadise
Nisqually Headwall2 daysIII9,000 feet60 degreesJanuary to JuneParadise
Nisqually Ice Cliff2 daysIII9,000 feet55 degreesJanuary to JuneParadise
Nisqually Cleaver2 daysIII9,000 feet60 degreesJanuary to JuneParadise
Nisqually Cleaver Ramp Exit2 daysIII9,000 feet80 degreesJanuary to JuneParadise
Nisqually Icefall2 daysIII9,000 feet60 degreesJanuary to JuneParadise
Fuhrer Finger2 daysII9,000 feet45 degreesJanuary to Sept.Paradise
Fuhrer Thumb2 daysII9,000 feet45 degreesJanuary to JulyParadise
Wilson Cleaver2-3 daysIV9,000 feet65 degreesJanuary to JuneParadise
Wilson Headwall2 daysIII9,000 feet55 degreesJanuary to JulyParadise
Kautz Ice Cliff2-3 daysV9,000 feet85 degreesJanuary to JuneParadise
Kautz Glacier Direct2 daysIII9,000 feet70 degreesJanuary to JulyParadise
Kautz Glacier Chute2 daysIII9,000 feet60 degreesJanuary to JulyParadise
Kautz Headwall2-4 daysIII9,000 feet55 degreesJanuary to JulyParadise
Kautz Cleaver2-4 daysII9,000 feet35 degreesJanuary to JulyParadise
Eastern Success Couloir2-4 daysII11,500 feet45 degreesJanuary to JulyWest Road
Central Success Couloir2-4 daysII11,500 feet45 degreesJanuary to JulyWest Road
Fickle Finger of Success2-4 daysII11,500 feet50 degreesJanuary to JulyWest Road
Success Cleaver2-4 daysII11,500 feet45 degreesJanuary to JulyWest Road
South Tahoma Headwall, Cleaver Exit2-4 daysIII11,500 feet65 degreesJanuary to JulyWest Road
South Tahoma Headwall2-4 daysIII11,500 feet55 degreesJanuary to JulyWest Road
Tahoma Cleaver, Buttress Entry2-4 daysIII11,500 feet50 degreesJanuary to JulyWest Road
Tahoma Cleaver, Lower Buttress2-4 daysII11,500 feet45 degreesJanuary to JulyWest Road
Tahoma Cleaver2-4 daysIV11,500 feet75 degreesJanuary to JulyWest Road
Tahoma Glacier2-4 daysII11,500 feet45 degreesJanuary to JulyWest Road
Tahoma Glacier, The Sickle2-4 daysII11,500 feet45 degreesJanuary to AugustWest Road
Sunset Amphitheater Ice Cap2-4 daysIII11,500 feet50 degreesJanuary to JulyWest Road
Sunset Amphitheater Headwall2-4 daysV11,500 feet80 degreesJanuary to JuneWest Road
Sunset Amphitheater Headwall Couloir2-4 daysIII11,500 feet55 degreesJanuary to JulyWest Road
Sunset Ridge2-4 daysIII11,500 feet55 degreesJanuary to AugustWest Road
Edmunds Headwall2 daysIII9,400 feet55 degreesJan-July Sep-OctMowich Lake
Central Mowich Face, Shelf Exit2 daysIV9,400 feet65 degreesJan-July Sep-OctMowich Lake
Central Mowich Face2 daysIII9,400 feet55 degreesJan-July Sep-OctMowich Lake
North Mowich Headwall2 daysIV9,400 feet55 degreesJan-July Sep-OctMowich Lake
North Mowich Ice Cliff2 daysV9,400 feet85 degreesJan-July Sep-OctMowich Lake
North Mowich Icefall2 daysIV9,400 feet55 degreesJan-July Sep-OctMowich Lake
Ptarmigan Ridge, Lower Shelf2 daysIV9,400 feet55 degreesJanuary to JulyMowich Lake
Ptarmigan Ridge, Upper Shelf2 daysIV9,400 feet55 degreesJanuary to JulyMowich Lake
South Ptarmigan Ice Cliff2 daysIV9,400 feet55 degreesJanuary to JulyMowich Lake
North Ptarmigan Ice Cliff2 daysIV9,400 feet55 degreesJanuary to JulyMowich Lake
Liberty Wall Ice Cap2-4 daysIV11,400 feet50 degreesJan-July Sep-OctWhite River
Liberty Wall Ice Cliff2-4 daysV11,400 feet80 degreesJan-July Sep-OctWhite River
Liberty Wall Direct2-4 daysIV+11,400 feet50 degreesJan-July Sep-OctWhite River
Liberty Ridge2-4 daysIII+11,400 feet55 degreesJanuary to JulyWhite River
Willis Wall, Thermogenesis2-4 daysIV11,400 feet60 degreesJanuary to JuneWhite River
Willis Wall, West Rib2-4 daysIV+11,400 feet60 degreesJanuary to JuneWhite River
Willis Wall, Ice Cliff2-4 daysV11,400 feet85 degreesJanuary to JuneWhite River
Willis Wall, Central Rib2-4 daysIV+11,400 feet60 degreesJanuary to JuneWhite River
Willis Wall, East Rib2-4 daysIV+11,400 feet60 degreesJanuary to JuneWhite River
Willis Wall East2-4 daysIV11,400 feet55 degreesJanuary to JuneWhite River
Curtis Ridge2-4 daysIV11,400 feet55 degreesJanuary to JuneWhite River
Russell Cliff Gully2 daysII+10,000 feet50 degreesJanuary to JulyWhite River
Russell Cliff Central Bowl2 daysII+10,000 feet50 degreesJanuary to JulyWhite River
Russell Cliff Upper Headwall2 daysII+10,000 feet50 degreesJanuary to JulyWhite River
Winthrop Glacier2 daysII10,000 feet40 degreesJanuary to Sept.White River
Emmons Glacier2 daysII10,000 feet40 degreesJanuary to Sept.White River

Special thanks to Martin Cash for a lot of the initial work on building the above table.

Above 13k ft on the DC route...
Sunrise on the DC Route
Rainier in alpenglow

Mountain Conditions/Information

This is the average high and low temperatures for the summit of Mount Rainier.

Month High Low
January 7 -3
February 9 -2
March 11 -2
April 17 2
May 22 6
Jun 26 10
July 33 15
August 32 14
September 28 12
October 20 7
November 14 2
December 8 -2

Thank You Scott Patterson for the above information.

Below are some useful links for Mount Rainier:

Mount Rainier National Park

Mountain Topo Maps National Weather Service Mount Rainier

Current Avalanche Information

Mount Rainier Weather (University of Washington) Paradise Web Cam

Links to time-lapse movies of two Webcams at Paradise:

Looking down the Valley from Paradise

Looking towards Rainier and the Muir Snowfield


Rainier in alpenglow

Guide Services for Mount Rainier

One-day climbing instruction, two-day summit climbs, five-day climbing seminars, and private climbs, are available through:

Guided summit climbs on the Emmons-Winthrop Glaciers are available through:

  • Alpine Ascents International,

    Please remember that providing a guided climb or mountaineering instruction in exchange for money is illegal except by one of the approved and authorized concessionaires.  

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-5 of 5


Jessicahiker - Sep 8, 2008 10:59 am - Hasn't voted

Carbon Glacier

The road has been washed out. There is no vehicle access to the trailhead. This adds 10 miles to your trip. Currently there are no plans to rebuild the road as per the NPS. Just got back on 9/5/08.


Haliku - Feb 8, 2010 1:42 pm - Voted 10/10

Liberty Ridge gone?

The route link to Liberty ridge doesn't work in the route table you have. I also don't see the route on the route list on the left. Did someone delete it?


vertx - Feb 12, 2010 11:40 am - Voted 10/10

Re: Liberty Ridge gone?

Looks like it was deleted for some reason. Maybe the elves can bring it back and give it to someone. I dont know had it.

Bark Eater

Bark Eater - Jan 13, 2012 2:15 pm - Hasn't voted

Red Tape Updates

The links to the NPS website are outdated. Here are the new links. Also, the fee for the climbing pass has increased from $30 to $43 per year.
Climbing Pass Purchase Form -
General Climbing Information -

molliej - Jul 21, 2015 9:12 am - Hasn't voted

ultimate adventureland

Never visited this place, but friends always told me that you can do so many things, do so many activities there.

Viewing: 1-5 of 5

Mount Rainier

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