Type: Ice, Alpine, 9000 ft
FA: Hans Fuhrer, Heinie Fuhrer, Roger Toll, Harry Myers
Page Views: 36,193 total · 244/month
Shared By: Brejcha on Jan 11, 2007
Admins: Nate Ball, Scott Coldiron, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick

You & This Route

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The approach begins at Paradise (elv: 5400ish). Hike up the paved trail for about a mile to Glacier Vista. Locate a climbers trail to the left (west???) and descend to the Nisqually glacier. Cross the Nisqually. You should head for the base of an obvious gully. Scramble up the boulder filled gully. This spits you out onto the left side of the wilson glacier. Follow the rolling snow fields aiming for a snowfield shaped like a turtle. There is good camping at the base of this snowfield (elv. 9000ish). Climb the turtle snowfield and aim for its left paw (do turtles have paws?). There is a good camp on the rocks near this paw. (elv. 11,000ish). From this camp follow the climbers trail on the rocks to a short rappel which may have a fixed line. This puts you at the bottom of the ice cliff drainage gully. Cross the chute, aiming for the obvious snow/ice ramp. This is the first "technical" pitch. It is probably about 35-40 degrees and really stepped out, you'll probably only need one tool. It's about 400 feet before easy glacier travel resumes. The second pitch is a few hundred yards above the first. It's steeper, and not nearly as stepped out. I'd say it's around 50-60 degrees. I had to use two tools on this pitch. It's about 400 feet long as well, but I'm not sure because we simul climbed it. When you top the pitch out glacier travel resumes, head up twoard the flase summit, then head for the top.

This beta is from a mid-august ascent


a few screws and a picket or 2


San Jose, CA
rhyang   San Jose, CA
The amount of ice on the Kautz apparently varies quite a bit depending on the time of the season. On 9-July-2006 the first pitch was all snow and maybe 45 degrees at most, while the second pitch was about 40m of 50 degree ice. We pitched out this section and I led it with one tool and one axe. Very featured.

On the descent there was a fixed anchor about 70m above the start of the second pitch (probably a buried picket). Be prepared to make v-threads, rap off ice horns, etc.

Conditions updates can be found on the head climbing ranger's blog site :
mountrainierclimbing.blogsp… Jan 15, 2007
Bryan Gartland
Helena, MT
Bryan Gartland   Helena, MT
The condition of this route seems to have changed a lot in the last ten years. I did this in relatively safe style in late August of '97 or '98 with a single alpine axe and no rappels or fixed lines. The "chute" appears to be more of a proper ice climb these days.

Pitching tents at Camp Hazard during warm spells is pretty risky. We did so and nervously watched as blocks broke off the sun-baked upper Kautz Glacier every hour or so. Most of it funneled down the gully the route crosses just west of the camp but one big fall let loose directly above the tents and sent washing machine sized ice boulders rolling through camp. It was pretty terrifying and one of the closer calls I've had in the mountains. Amazingly no tents or people were hit with big stuff.

In retrospect it was a comical scene. Most of us were awakened from afternoon naps by the crack of the ice fall and watched in what seemed to be slow motion as the glacier broke up and trundled towards the tents. Realizing that it wasn't going to miss the camp, people started running for cover behind boulders in their underwear.

The irony is that Camp Hazard is named for an individual and not for its location below a south facing ice cliff. Needless to say, the name fits. Feb 24, 2007
Bill Bones  
This is a great route. The ice pitches were great fun. The first was not much more that a 40 degree step ladder, but the second pitch was steep enough for 2 tools. We fired the route in 2 days car to car. A classic route for the climber seeking to stay away from crowds and wanting a more challenging route. Aug 6, 2007
Rick Miske
Orem, UT
Rick Miske   Orem, UT
Summited July 4th. 1st ice pitch a walk-up after the first semi-vertical 40', 2nd required one tool but quite a bit of front-pointing. Felt like solid Grade 3. There were loops of webbing left on the penitentes which made good anchors.

Was cool at the end of the day to sit in camp 2 and watch the fireworks all around. Nov 14, 2007
Yelm, Wa
dormanJB   Yelm, Wa
Got up the route on 4 July 2011 from comet falls trailhead. Conditions were good. The icefall was stable especially compared to the recent activity on the nisqually. We accessed the ramp via the chute from below camp hazard at 11,200 ft, and it was a simple descent down around the horn of the western icefall. If you want to do the rappel you should head west at 10,450 ft and follow the ridge to about 10,850 ft. The rappel poit is easy to miss. Very few crevasses on the upper glacier and good snow bridge across the kautz/ nisqually transistion at 12,500 ft. Upper mountain was dense hardpack snow and we skied up most of the way to the crater. Recommend taking wands if descending this route as it is not well marked right now.

Descent was the standard dissapointment cleaver route. Large suncups made ski descent difficult. Several large crevasses are open on the upper ingraham glacier making the route traverse back towards emmons glacier. Well marked and tracked. Jul 6, 2011
Ash Gambhir  
Our Trip Report aka bragging! (July 21st-22nd 2017)
(Ascent via Kautz glacier, descent via Disappointment Clever route)

Mesmerized by Mt Rainier (14,411 ft, 4,392 m) the most prominent and most heavily glaciated peak in the lower 48 states, and driven by the spirit of alpinism July 21st-22nd 2017, Ross and I got together to do the "Mount Rainier Traverse". We ascended and summited via Kautz Glacier, a technical, less traveled route on Mt Rainier which sees about 3% of total Mt Rainier traffic. This route consists of about 800 feet of alpine ice climbing up to AI3 and navigating through glaciers with several hidden crevasses. We had the entire route to ourselves which was quite a contrast to our descent route! On the way up we camped by Camp Hazard at 11,300 feet, we had this entire camp to our selves too. With the views of 400 foot, Kautz Ice cliffs on one side and Mt Adam piercing through the clouds cover on the other, this was truly a camp with a view! Taking the Kautz Glacier route we carried up and over Mt Rainier descending via the standard route, Disappointment Cleaver (DC). The DC route sees about 75% of Mt Rainier traffic and is a very scenic, well-marked route. This route also had some of the largest crevasses we had come across yet. Many thanks to the Mt Rainier guide teams that frequently patrol this route and have put up ladder crossings. In this way we went no base camps, no summit packs, carry what you bring up and over and finished the climb in 36 hours car to car (9,011 feet of elevation gain and 9,011 feet of loss), in somewhat of an alpine style! Jul 26, 2017
Thomas G.
Thomas G.   SLC, UT
Summitted Rainier via the Kautz on August 5th. We encountered late-season conditions, with tons of crevasse end-running on the upper Kautz glacier and a fair bit of ice on the second step.

A quick TR:

On the afternoon of August 3rd, we started up the Comet Falls Trailhead. Conditions were hot and muggy, but the trail thru Van Trump Park was beautiful. We encountered quite a few mosquitos on trail and we were able to find water to filter before leaving the Van Trump Meadow. We made it to just below the Turtle Snowfield before chopping a tent platform and going to sleep.

On August 4th, we traveled from our camp at 8,500 up to Camp Hazard. We did not rope up nor use crampons for the turtle snowfield - snow conditions were soft and easily bootable, with giant suncups that kept travel interesting. At Hazard we found running water and excellent bivy sites below Hazard proper - I would not want to camp at Hazard, due to the active Kautz ice fall right above us.

On August 5th, we descended from Hazard just after 2:00 AM, crossed the Kautz ice fall, and simuled the first step. Conditions were mostly steep suncupped snow (probably around 45 degrees), with patches of ice sticking out. We each carried (and used) one technical tool. We pitched out the second step, and found about 45 feet of 50-55 degree ice.

The upper Kautz was quite broken up, and we spent a considerable amount of time end-running crevasses - we found multiple snowbridges that warranted a belay to cross safely. Eventually we reached the Wapowety Cleaver, where we found more water to filter.

Crossing from the Wapowety on to the Upper Nisqually, we encountered one (rather difficult) crevasse, but after that, it was smooth sailing - the upper Nisqually was much easier to navigate than the Kautz, and we made good time getting up to the Columbia Crest.

Descent down the DC was trivial, though we did have to gain 500' of elevation because of how broken up the upper DC was.

All in all, an amazing day with perfect weather and good conditions. I'm looking forward to going back to do the Kautz again. Aug 23, 2017

This route was incredible, we went around July 12th 2017. We had about a pitch of WI2/3 but the last two pitches were just hard snow climbing. You can read more info on my blog... link above! Aug 31, 2017