We are planning on climbing Rainier over Thanksgiving via Disappointment Cleaver. Looking for advice and any observations that might be helpful.
Questions: Is the climbers hut usable during the winter? We are fine tenting it but the hut would be helpful. Does the Muir Snowfield ever avalanche? Is there a better route nearby that would be more advisable during the winter?
Yes - I personally watched quite the avalanche there. I am quite aware that this area sees ice fall from Ingraham Glacier. About 30 minutes after the avalanche we had to make our way back through there. Of course we did it on the run.
Muir hut will be open. Best of luck, November is probably the worst possible month to climb Rainier. Horrible weather, although so far not bad for November, and the glacier is as broken as it can possibly get. There are plenty of avalanche prone areas on the way to Muir (e.g. Panorama Point). The big avalanche referenced was on the Ingraham glacier and was caused by serac fall. My advice would be skip Rainier, don't even try, drive to Hyalite and go ice climbing or Smith Rock and chase the sun.