March 22, 2020
The Nisqually River flows approx 80 miles from its source at the Nisqually Glacier on the south side of Mt. Rainier all the way to Puget Sound. While the river today is running high and clear from the winter rain and snow, it will become more cloudy as glacial erosion grinds up the bedrock over the summer months. The river, owing its name to the Nisqually Tribe, provides power to 43,000 homes and is itself home to 10 native fish species.
Tahoma Creek, fed by both the Tahoma and South Tahoma Glaciers, and Kautz Creek are Nisqually River tributaries.
While the Nisqually and Tahoma Glaciers are not one of the guided climbs on Mt. Rainier, the Kautz Glacier is. If you’ve already summited the mountain via the Emmons or the DC and are either an ice climber or have taken an approved ice climbing course, a guided Kautz climb may be just the goal you need right now. These days may feel like they are moving at a glacial pace, but eventually we will all be back out adventuring in the mountains. Perhaps with a little more knowledge about how the creeks and rivers that flow from Mt. Rainier change with the seasons.
We are scheduled to guide the Kautz on the follow dates:
4½ Day Kautz
May 30 – June 3, 2020
June 8-12, 2020
June 20-24, 2020 (FULL)
5½ Day Kautz
June 28 – July 3, 2020 (one spot open)
July 10-15, 2020
July 19-24, 2020 (FULL)
August 1-6, 2020
What’s the difference between the two? There is more snow on the Kautz ice chute in the early season, making it a steep climb on snow. As the summer progresses, the snow melts during the day and re-freezes overnight turning the snow to glacier ice and making the chute more technical. We build in an extra day of training for the mid-season climbs.
What does it take? At a minimum, climbers must have a prior summit of Mt. Rainier or similar peak, prior ice climbing experience, and the ability to move confidently and safely in crampons, at altitude, with a 50+lb pack, as part of a rope team, on 30 to 50 degree terrain.