Snow climbing gear
Weather changes rapidly on Mount Rainier and rain, snow and frigid temperatures can occur any time of year. Know the forecast and be prepared for changing weather and sudden storms with extra clothing, rain gear and shelter.
Winter at Mount Rainier brings frequent storms with high winds, deep snow and extremely poor visibility. All climbers attempting a winter ascent need to be experienced in winter mountaineering, avalanche forecasting and rescue.
Check the National Weather Service Mount Rainier Recreational Forecast and the Northwest Avalanche Center forecast in the days leading up to your trip. The Mount Rainier Climbing Blog provides the latest route conditions. Mount Rainier’s live webcams are handy for seeing current conditions.
Best Time to Go: The typical climbing season runs from late May to September. July and August are typically the driest and warmest months.
Mount Rainier Permits
When you arrive at Mount Rainier National Park, you will need to pay an entrance fee or show a valid annual pass. To climb the mountain, you will also need the following:
Climbing Pass: Anyone climbing on glaciers, or above 10, 000 ft., must purchase a Mount Rainier Climbing Pass, which is valid for the calendar year. You can buy your pass in advance or on the day of your climb.
In the summer, you can get a climbing pass in person at the Climbing Information Center in Paradise; the Jackson Visitor Center in Paradise; the White River Wilderness Information Center at the White River Entrance; the Longmire Wilderness Information Center; and the Carbon River Ranger Station. Be sure to check the operating hours of the location you plan to visit. You must have a valid photo ID to purchase a Climbing Pass.
Wilderness Permit: Climbers who plan to camp overnight are also required to get a Wilderness Permit. Mount Rainier limits the number of campers in each wilderness zone, so it’s best to make advanced reservations for your permit. You’ll have to pay a small fee, but you’ll be able to secure your campsite ahead of time. The park starts taking reservations on March 15.
About 30 percent of permits are held to be issued in person on a first-come, first-served basis for free. These permits can be issued on the day your trip starts, or up to one day before your trip starts. If your dates are flexible and/or you are climbing midweek, permits are generally easy to come by even in peak season.
Registration: Your party must register in person for the climb on the day the climb begins (or the day prior).
Permissions: Anyone younger than 18 years old must have written permission of a parent or legal guardian before climbing.
Solo travel above high camps or anywhere on glaciers is not allowed except with written permission from the Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent.
Mount Rainier Maps
The route you’re climbing determines the maps you’ll need. Green Trails maps are sold at REI stores, while USGS maps are sold at Mount Rainier National Park visitor centers, ranger stations and wilderness information centers.
Disappointment Cleaver, Emmons Glacier, Ingraham Direct, Kautz Glacier, and Fuhrer Finger: Green Trails Mount Rainier East #270 or USGS Mount Rainier East and USGS Sunrise.
Tahoma Glacier, Ptarmigan Ridge: Green Trails Mount Rainier West #269 or USGS Mount Rainier West and USGS Mowich Lake.
Liberty Ridge: Green Trails Mount Rainier East #270 and Green Trails Mount Rainier West #269 or USGS Sunrise, USGS Mowich Lake, USGS Mount Rainier West and USGS Mount Rainier East.
Mount Rainier Packing List
The following list is designed for a non-guided trip on Mount Rainier. If you’re part of a guided group, check with the guide company to see what items they provide.
Included in this list are the Ten Essential Systems you should have on every backcountry trip: navigation; sun protection; insulation; illumination; first-aid supplies; fire; repair kit and tools; nutrition; hydration; emergency shelter.
Hardware quantities may vary depending on route.
Quantity varies depending on route and length of trip.
- Lunch (bagels, summer sausage, cheese, smoked salmon, leftover pizza, etc.)