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Mt Rainier via Kautz Glacier - Vertical Nomads

Mt Rainier via Kautz Glacier

Mt Rainier via Kautz Glacier

Ice, Alpine, 9000′, Grade IV
Cascade Range/Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
14,411 ft (4,392 m)

Getting to the top is nothing. How you do it is everything.
~ Royal Robbins

A look at the Kautz Glacier route on Mt Rainier


Mesmerized by Mt Rainier (14,411 ft, 4,392 m) the most prominent and most heavily glaciated peak in the lower 48 states, and driven by the spirit of alpinism July 21st-22nd 2017, Ross and I got together to do the “Mount Rainier Traverse”.

We ascended and summited via Kautz Glacier, a technical, less traveled route on Mt Rainier which sees about 3% of total Mt Rainier traffic. This route consists of about 800 feet of alpine ice climbing up to AI3 and navigating through glaciers with several hidden crevasses. We had the entire route to ourselves which was quite a contrast to our descent route! On the way up we camped by Camp Hazard at 11,300 feet, we had this entire camp to our selves too. With the views of 400 foot, Kautz Ice cliffs on one side and Mt Adam piercing through the clouds cover on the other, this was truly a camp with a view! Taking the Kautz Glacier route we carried up and over Mt Rainier descending via the standard route, Disappointment Cleaver (DC).

The DC route sees about 75% of Mt Rainier traffic and is a very scenic, well-marked route. This route also had some of the largest crevasses we had come across yet. Many thanks to the Mt Rainier guide teams that frequently patrol this route and have put up ladder crossings. In this way we went no base camps, no summit packs, carry what you bring, up and over and finished the climb in 36 hours car to car (9,011 feet of elevation gain and 9,011 feet of loss), in somewhat of an alpine style!



Ross on Nisqually Glacier 

Camp Hazard – A camp above the clouds!

A look at our home at Camp Hazard and ice falls above

A look at the Kautz Ice Chutes

Me, leading up the Kautz Ice chutes.

Ross and I by the summit

Ross by the Yeti’s Cave on Nisqually Glacier

Summit Shot!

Ross’s summit shot!

On one of the ladder crossings on the DC route during our descent

Ingram glacier during our descent

Just the start of summit celebrations!

Mt Rainier from my Southwest flight home


Various Stages of the Climb:
◊  5,400 ft-11,300 ft: Glacier travel starting on heavily crevassed Nisqually and Wilson glaciers continuing up on the fan snow chute, and turtle snowfield, ending at Camp Hazard.
◊ 11,300 ft- 12,300 ft: 1000 ft of alpine ice (AI2/3) on Kautz ice chute.
◊ 12,300 ft – 14,411 ft: Glacier travel on heavily crevassed Kautz and Nisqually glaciers to the summit crater.
◊ 14,411 ft – 5,400 ft: Summit crater to Paradise via Ingram and Cowlitz glacier and Muir snowfield via Disappointment Cleaver route.

Final Stats
Total time car to car: 36 Hours
Total Elevation gain and loss: 18,022 ft

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