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Help me pick a route on Rainier.

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Growing up in Idaho my entire experience is limited to the City of Rocks, trade routes in the Sawtooth and Teton Ranges, crazy scree of the Lost River Range, and climbing steep ice in Montana and Utah.

I've only been on Rainier once when a partner and I did Kautz Glacier and came down the DC.

We hope to head back in early July with a small group of folks similar to my abilities and experience. I'd like to do something like Liberty Ridge or Ptarmagen Ridge, yet it could be a little above the groups speed limit.

What routes present a challenge, yet are still ideal for intermediate mountaineers?

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Lib Ridge and Ptarmigan both are traditionally marginal or "out" by early July in a normal snow year, which this is. Lib Ridge because the Carbon becomes very difficult to navigate and the ridge proper starts melting out. Ptarmigan for different reasons but YMMV.


What's wrong with the route you already did? Kautz isn't a mobbed trade route so it's a good choice, and up-and-over should present plenty of challenge for your group even if you aren't front-pointing the entire way.


I think the Spring will tell better what conditions present in July: If it remains cool and cloudy here with below normal temps, then my first paragraph can be tossed, and you could try Lib Ridge, which is remote but not technically difficult.



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Alex speaks the truth.


Also, I would check out Sunset Ridge. It should be in prime shape by then and will have technical challenge, no people, and be physically demanding. Same with Tahoma Glacier.


I really like the feel of the west side routes, though I have never been successful over there! Given the long approach, you need a very solid forecast.

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I agree with Alex, Liberty Ridge and Ptarmigan Ridges are typically in sub optimal condition by early July most years.


Perhaps the Mowich Face might be a good choice for that time period. Probably icy, but also might be less exposed to loose rock than LB or PR.


Do you have your heart set on Rainier? Mt Baker is, in my opinion, more enjoyable and very similar to Mt Rainier. More of a wilderness experience, no entrance or climbing fees, less red tape.


North Ridge, Coleman Headwall, and Park Glacier Headwall would all be steep, interesting, and should still be in good shape in July.

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