Mount Rainier/Tahoma Glacier

Mount Rainier via the Tahoma Glacier is Grade III with glacier travel on 30-45° slopes.


Take I-5 to exit 142. Exit to SR 161 and drive south until exiting at SR 512 West. Travel 2-3 mi and get off at Puyallup exit (Mount Rainier sign). Drive via Eatonville and SR 706 to the Nisqually entrance to Mount Rainier National Park (approximately 80 mi from Seattle).

Pay entrance fee and drive 1 mi to the West Side Road, turn left and take it as far as it is open, (barricade at Fish Creek, 2,880 ft, in 1997) toward Tahoma Creek Trailhead, 3,500 ft, 4.7 mi. from the start of the West Side Rd.


Hike up road approximately a half hour, to Tahoma Creek Trail. Ascend Tahoma Creek Trail and turn north on Wonderland Trail and ascend to 5,600 ft. Turn northeast on moraine to Camp I on crest of Emerald Ridge between north and south lobes of the Tahoma Glacier at 6,100 ft.

From Camp I to Camp II, ascend a series of zigzags. Initially ascend southern side of Tahoma Glacier to about 7,200 ft; then gradual, diagonal traverse to opposite side of glacier to about 9,000 ft. Continue traversing south again to near glacier side at about 10,000 ft, then back north again towards other side. Camp II recommended on this last traverse where safe from serac fall at about 10,440 ft, roughly parallel to Saint Andrews Rock).


Finish last north traverse from Camp II to side of glacier, ascending seracs as required to cross crevasse moat to about 10,800 ft, then traverse south to about 11,000 ft. Turn and ascend north to about 11,200 ft to enter sickle. Ascend sickle on north side of glacier keeping left of icy ridges to a plateau at about 12,600 ft. Thence make a gradual rising traverse south to the summit cone.


Descend via the Disappointment Cleaver route to Camp Muir and Paradise. Alternatively, descend the climbing route.


Seattle to Trailhead 2.5
Trailhead to Camp I 4 3,220
Camp I to Camp II 10 4,340
Camp II to Summit 7 3,970
Summit to Paradise 5.5 9,000
Paradise to Trailhead .75


Standard glacier gear, pickets and screws.


The Tahoma Creek Trail is closed due to flash flooding, but is passable. The flooding is due to sudden releases from the glacier. Familiarize yourself with warning sounds from the flooding and be prepared to seek refuge on high ground.

The Tahoma Glacier is heavily crevassed with crescentric crevasses at the upper levels. Diagonal traverses and careful route finding are required. Route may deviate from year to year.

A carryover is recommended for both a quicker descent and to avoid sun weakened snow bridges on descent of the Tahoma Glacier. The sickle is steep hard snow and ice; crux is approach.

Best done in early season. Climbing permit is required; obtain either at Longmire or Paradise.

  • Suitable Activities: Climbing
  • Climbing Category: Intermediate Alpine
  • Seasons: May, June, July
  • Weather: View weather forecast.
  • Difficulty: Intermediate Mountaineering Climb
  • Elevation Gain: 14,411 ft
  • 11,330 ft
  • Land Manager: Mount Rainier National Park
    Mount Rainier Wilderness
  • Parking Permit Required: National Park Entrance Fee
  • Default Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Green Trails Mt Rainier West No. 269
  • USGS Mt Rainier West
  • USGS Mt Rainier East
  • Green Trails Mt Rainier East No. 270
  • Red Marker
    46.779987, -121.885251
    46.7799874431 -121.885250509
  • Red Marker
    46.852886, -121.760374
    46.8528857 -121.7603744

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