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[TR] Mt. Rainier - Kautz Glacier 07/13/2018

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Trip: Mt. Rainier - Kautz Glacier

Trip Date: 07/13/2018

Trip Report:


I met up with two fellow CC'ers at Paradise on Friday morning for an attempt at the Kautz.  It was going to be a busy weekend on the mountain which was evident by the line of climbers waiting for the guide house to open at 7am, but we would soon discover that we would have the route all to ourselves.

After getting our permit we were back at the cars to gather gear and discuss whether or not we wanted to descend the Kautz or carryover and descend the DC.  We eventually agreed on the carryover, and given the excellent weather forecast we left the tent at the car with plans of an open bivy either at High Castle or just below the rock step.  We took the essentials and had our packs down around 35 lbs which was a nice change of pace.

By 9:15am we were on the trail and heading towards Glacier Vista where we then dropped down onto the lower Nisqually.  The Fan is melting out and showed plenty of signs of rock fall so we aimed for the Wilson gully which looked to be in much better shape.  We roped up and it was an easy trek across the Niqually and up the gully.  There were some cracks starting to open up in the gully but nothing major.

From there it was a straight shot to the ridge where we then ascended to just below the Turtle snowfield (9400') where we found plenty of running water.  It was around 3pm by this time so we took a good break to replenish our water, have a snack, and enjoy the views.  We all felt good so we continued on up to Hazard.

By 5:30pm, just over 8 hours from the parking lot, we arrived at 11,100' just below the rock step with a handful of bivy sites to choose from.  There was a fair bit of wind but unfortunately none of the bivy sites offered much protection.  We did find running water here as well (though it slowed to a trickle by morning).  After taking a quick look at the ice chute we settled in for the evening.  By this time we had not seen any other parties on the route and we were all alone at Hazard.  We did find out after the climb that another party did start out later than us and was bivying at the Castle.

I think I managed to get a few hours of sleep with the wind beating down on us all night.  I've definitely slept better.  We got a bit of a late start, but by 4:30a we were on the move and we were at the base of the ice chute at 5:15a with some good light on the route.  We used our rope to rappel off the rock step.  The anchor looked to be in good shape, but the fixed line has seen better days.

The first ice step was full of penitentes which made for easy solo climbing.  We each had an axe and a tool, though the tool wasn't really necessary on the first step.  We continued above the first step on the lower angle snow towards the second ice step which looked to only have a short section of alpine ice toward the top.  As the steepness began to increase we were still on dense sun cupped snow which made for fun climbing with a tool.  This was my first time on steep terrain with a tool so it was a good introduction.  I continued up to where the ice began and waited for my more experienced partners to solo the ice.  I almost followed but with it being my first time on steep alpine ice had them build a quick anchor and belay me up through the short section of ice.

With the ice chute out of the way we continued upwards toward the top of Wapowtey Cleaver, easily navigating the crevasses.  We didn't quite touch Wapowtey Cleaver before turning NW toward the saddle between Point Success and the summit.  By 10:30a we were on the summit!  It was a bit breezy so we snapped some pictures and then retreated into the crater for a break at register rock.  We were all alone on the summit as well which we expected since the DC climbers were probably on the summit closer to sunrise.

At 11:45pm we started down the hot and slushy DC route.   We made good time and got see the impressive icefall that happened earlier in the week.  We hustled through this section and arrived at Muir just after 3pm.  After a good break to grab a snack and pack some gear, we slogged down the Muir snowfield and were back to the cars by 5:30p.

This route was new to all of us and we had a blast!  Being away from the crowds and in a new area of the mountain was really great.  And I think this was a perfect route for me to experience steeper, more technical terrain.  I'm looking forward to getting on more steep ice in the future.  Thanks Kevin and Phil for a awesome climb!


Paradise to Hazard: 8 hrs

Hazard to Summit: 6 hrs

Summit to Muir: 4.5 hrs

Muir to Paradise: 2.5 hrs

Total Mileage: 14.1 miles according to the GPS


Photos and GPS track courtesy of Kevin


Wilson Gully:


Ice Chute:




Approaching first step:


In the first step:


Approaching second step:


Looking down the chute:




Above the chute/Wapowety Cleaver:


Summit headstand:


Icefall from above:


Icefall from below/Ingraham Flats:


GPS Track:




Gear Notes:
Standard glacier rack. Ice axe + tool. 6 screws.

Approach Notes:
Wilson Gully. Running water at Upper Castle and at Hazard if it is warm enough.

Edited by jstluise
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