Climbing

A string of climbers cross a glacier.
Climbers crossing a glacier on Mount Rainier.

NPS Photo


Mount Rainier, the most heavily glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, offers an exciting challenge to the mountaineer. Each year thousands of people successfully climb this 14,410 foot active volcano. There is access to over twenty different climbing routes and ski descents via four main trailheads to approach the mountain: Paradise, Westside Road, White River, and Mowich Lake.

Reaching the summit via any route requires a vertical elevation gain of more than 9,000 feet and traveling over ten miles in distance. Climbers must be in excellent physical condition and well prepared. Technical glacier-travel rope skills are also required to ascend and descend the mountain safely. Either independently or with a guide, climbing and skiing on Mount Rainier offers an unparalleled experience within the Pacific Northwest's Cascade Mountain Range.

 

COVID-19

Last Updated: October 27, 2021.

Restrictions inside the park are in place due to COVID-19. See the park's COVID-19 Visitor Guide for more details. Changes affecting climbers include:

  • The Public Shelter at Camp Muir is CLOSED for visitor use and is for emergency-use only. Plan on staying in tents at Camp Muir.
  • Search and rescue response may be delayed due to restrictions and precautions our rangers are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Please stay home if you feel sick or are feeling any COVID-19 related symptoms.
  • Maintain proper physical distancing between yourself and other climbing parties on the mountain.
 

Fees, Permits, and Reservations

Two things are required to climb Mount Rainier:

  1. Each individual must pay the Annual Climbing Fee each year (good for the entire calendar year). You can pay this BEFORE coming to the park online at Pay.gov.
  2. All climbing parties must obtain a Climbing Permit in-person at Mount Rainier National Park for their climb (one per party, up to 12 people per party).

About the Annual Climbing Fee:

The Annual Climbing Fee at Mount Rainier National Park helps provide for rangers to respond to search and rescue incidents, staff ranger stations and high camps to register climbers and provide up-to-date route conditions, and remove human waste from the mountain and dispose of it properly. Pay the Climbing Fee online through Pay.gov.

Physical climbing passes will NO longer be issued. Climbers need to print their confirmation email or save a copy to their device to show the rangers when registering for a Climbing Permit at a ranger station.

The Annual Climbing Fee changes with the Consumer Price Index every year. For 2022 the fee is:

  • $53 for adults (26 years old and older)
  • $37 for youth (25 years old and younger)

Annual Climbing Fee Frequently-Asked-Questions

About the Climbing Permit:

Climbers must obtain a Climbing Permit in person at a ranger station. Climbers cannot obtain a Climbing Permit over the phone or online. A Climbing Permit is required for each party that skis or climbs on a glacier and/or ascends above 10,000 feet on Mount Rainier. While the Annual Climbing Fee only needs to be purchased once for the entire calendar year, a Climbing Permit is specific to the date range and party to which it is issued.

"Single-push" climbers and skiers are required to obtain a Climbing Permit.

A climber must be at least 18 years old to climb Mount Rainier. Anyone younger than 18 years of age must have the permission of a parent or legal guardian at the time of registration.

About Reservations:

Reservations for Climbing Permits can be made through the Recreation.gov website for Mount Rainier National Park Wilderness and Climbing Permits. Reservations are encouraged but not required, especially for people traveling long distances to get to the park, larger climbing parties, and those trying to climb over a holiday weekend. Only during high-use months (June through September) are reservations for Climbing Permits made available. Reservations must be made at least two days in advance of the trip start.

Only approximately 60% of the total Climbing Permits are available for reservation. The remaining permits are only issued at the ranger stations inside the park on a first-come, first-served basis.

About Solo Climbing:

To climb or ski Mount Rainier without a partner requires a Solo Climbing Permit. All soloists must apply for the permit via the
Solo Application Form. Note: all climbers, including approved soloists, must still pay the Annual Climbing Fee and obtain a Climbing Permit for each trip.

 

Weather and Conditions

Weather, snow, and route conditions can change rapidly, making the difference between a pleasant and rewarding experience or a tragedy. Before beginning a climb, obtain a current weather forecast. Rangers at both Camp Muir and Camp Schurman can give out updated forecasts before your summit attempt, but look for a general trend in the weather before arriving at the park.

During your climb, turn back if weather conditions deteriorate. Severe winter-like storms on the mountain are not uncommon during the summer. Poor weather often contributes to accidents and near-misses on the mountain. Here are some links to weather and avalanche resources for Mount Rainier National Park. For recent route conditions updates check out the Mount Rainier Climbing Blog.

 
A climber braces against a rope as he ascends a steep cliff.
Historic photo of a Mount Rainier climber.

NPS Photo

Guide Services

Climbing instruction, multi-day summit climbs, multi-day climbing seminars, and private climbs are available through:

There are also 15 single-trip guide services authorized to perform only one guided trip per year. Check the list of current Commercial Use Authorizations for approved guide service companies.

Some guided climbs qualify as charities. This type of climb is allowed, but requires a Commercial Use Authorization. Paying the climbing fee is still required.

Engaging in any business in park areas except in accordance with the provisions of a permit, contract, or other written agreement is prohibited. Leading or participating in an unauthorized guided climb of Mount Rainier is illegal (Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations). Learn more about regulations for guiding on Mount Rainier.

 

Route Briefs

Route briefs are official in-depth descriptions of climbing routes on Mount Rainier. Use the Route Briefs to familiarize yourself with these four popular routes. Produced by the climbing rangers, they contain the information needed for planning your climb, including route statistics, common pit-falls, and some of the climbing history of the route.

 

Annual Mountaineering Reports and Statistics

Annual Mountaineering Reports summarize highlights of the climbing program, including search-and-rescues, statistics, and climbing staff.

Climbing Statistics are available from are available from 1852 to 1897 and from 1950 to the present. Data available include the total number of climbers and the number of climbers who successfully reached the summit.

Climbing Resources

  • Avalanche Information (pdf)
  • Climbing Site Bulletin (pdf)
  • Summit Register Request Form (pdf) - Use to request a copy of a summit register page from 2004 to the present only. Summit registers prior to 2004 are stored at the National Archives and Records Administration in Seattle. NOTE: Registers come down from the summit when they are full, so it may take a year or two before a register makes it into the park archives. Not all summit registers make it to the archives due to the weather conditions at the summit. In addition, many of those that do make it have missing pages. We will do our best to locate your entry but may not be able to if the register was not received or the page is missing from the register.

Last updated: November 22, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford , WA 98304

Phone:

360 569-2211

Contact Us

Stay Connected