Mount Rainier/Kautz Glacier

Mount Rainier via the Kautz Glacier is a Grade II ice climb.

Getting There

Take I-5 to exit 142. Exit to SR 161 and drive south until exiting at SR 512 West.Travel 2-3 mi and take the 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 the entrance fee and drive 19 mi to Paradise at 5,400 ft.


From Paradise, hike to the Nisqually Moraine Trail and descend to the Nisqually Glacier. Cross the Nisqually and ascend to the west edge of the Wilson Glacier either by taking the gully known as the Fan or by ascending broad benches from higher up on the Nisqually. Ascend the Wilson Glacier to 9,500 ft and continue up to the Turtle Snowfield. Good bivouac sites can be found on the rock islands at the west edge of the Turtle Snowfield between 9,500 ft and 10,500 ft.


From the west edge of the Turtle Snowfield ascend snow or volcanic scree (late season) to a westward facing chimney at approximately 11,000 ft. The chimney may be marked by old fixed lines. Rappel 25 ft to the edge of a south facing gully. Traverse the gully and then continue traversing westward across easy ramps a couple hundred feet to the base of the ice pitches.

The technical part of the climb can be tackled as two long pitches varying from 40 to 50 degrees with a section of less steep ice in between. Ice pinnacles, more prominent to climber's right, make for interesting climbing.

From the flat area at the top of the ice pitches, either ascend toward Point Success and then toward the summit, or ascend to the top of Wapowety Cleaver and follow the upper Nisqually to the summit.

Either alternative may involve serious crevasse problems in late season calling for careful routefinding. 


Descend the climbing route or carry over and descend the Disappointment Cleaver route. The nieve penitentes to the climber's right on the ice pitches may be used for chopping ice bollards. With 60 meter ropes, two double-rope rappels plus some down-climbing are enough to reach the base of the ice pitches.


Seattle to Trailhead 2.5
Trailhead to Camp 8-10 5,800
Camp to Summit 5-10 3,200
Summit to Trailhead 4-6


Standard glacier gear, ice screws and pickets.


A Mount Rainier climbing fee is required. Rangers at the Jackson Visitor Center are a source of current conditions. When temperatures are warm there is usually plenty of flowing water at the edges of the Turtle Snowfield. As with some other ice routes, in late season a carryover may be in order to avoid difficult or hazardous travel through the icefall.

 Previous versions of the Mountaineers Intermediate Climbs Guide describe the approach ascending to just below Camp Hazard near the ice cliff, dropping over a ridge and then descending a gully about 150’, then either crossing the icefall into the broad chute or continuing down the gully and around the toe of the icefall to the bottom of the chute. This route has greater potential exposure to icefall, is slightly longer and is no longer recommended.


  • Mountaineering credit is granted before August 1st and ice credit after August 1st.
  • Suitable Activities: Climbing
  • Climbing Category: Intermediate Alpine
  • Seasons: July, August, September
  • Weather: View weather forecast.
  • Difficulty: Intermediate Ice Climb
  • Elevation Gain: 9,000 ft
  • 14,411 ft
  • Land Manager: Mount Rainier National Park
    Mount Rainier Wilderness
  • Parking Permit Required: National Park Entrance Fee
  • Recommended 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

Upcoming Activities

Intermediate Alpine Climb - Mount Rainier/Kautz Glacier

Climbing Trip
Difficulty: Intermediate Ice Climb
Sat, Jul 21, 2018 - Sun, Jul 22, 2018
2 participants
Registration closes Jul 19
Tacoma Branch

Intermediate Alpine Climb - Mount Rainier/Kautz Glacier

Climbing Trip
Beautiful climb of one of Mount Rainiers best routes.
Difficulty: Intermediate Ice Climb
Sat, Jul 28, 2018 - Sun, Jul 29, 2018
Prerequisites, Leader's Permission Required
1 participant on waitlist 0 leaders
Registration closes Jul 26
Seattle Branch

Intermediate Alpine Climb - Mount Rainier/Kautz Glacier

Climbing Trip
Intermediate ice climb of Mt. Rainier via the Kautz Glacier
Difficulty: Intermediate Ice Climb
Fri, Aug 3, 2018 - Sun, Aug 5, 2018
Prerequisites, Leader's Permission Required
3 participants
Registration opens Jul 19
Seattle Branch
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