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Cowlitz Glacier and the Nisqually Chute

Mount Rainier National Park

Two separate zones within a single ski tour

Ski Touring Moderate

15 km
1.7 km
1.7 km
1 day +
Low Point
1.6 km
High Point
3.3 km
Cowlitz Glacier and the Nisqually Chute Map

Just writing about this trip makes my legs burn but if you want to do something unique from Camp Muir this is the tour for you. Being a snowboarder I don’t really recommend it but if you are a skier this is a great and scenic trip is some stunning scenery. Both the Cowlitz Glacier and the Nisqually Chute are separated by the Muir Snowfield but this tour starts off with some great turns and ends with more great turns but the middle section…….one long traverse….. This tour should not be done after April as the Cowlitz Glacier is riddled with crevasses but early in the season they SHOULD be covered in snow.


Starting at the Paradise Visitor Center start heading up the Skyline Trail which before long wraps over to an open bowl just below Glacier Vista. Wether you feel like skinning or bootpacking make your way up the face until arriving on the low ridge of the Muir Snowfield. From here up to Camp Muir it is a long slog heading north which can be broken up by small breaks to take in water and the views. Once up at Camp Muir head North onto the Cowlitz Glacier before climbing up to Cathedral Gap.

Starting at Cathedral Gap drop into the Cowlitz Glacier and start riding on the skiers right side. Take in the breathtaking views as you start heading down but make sure to start the long traverse around 9,200 feet just as you pass by Anvil Rock on the right side. Now you will be traversing across the Paradise Glacier and just above an area referred to as Little Africa. Now you are almost there but still need to traverse a bit more making it to the top of the Nisqually Chute. Finding the line can be a bit intimidating so ride up with caution but once there you can descend the steep slopes all the way down to the valley. If snow allows you can ride all the way to the Nisqually Bridge via the skiers right of the main creek but if you want to head back to Paradise head skiers left and connect with the Moraine Trail heading up and over to the Paradise zone.

To see my trip in the area and more photos check out this link https://www.whereiskylemiller.com/mt-rainier/cowlitz-glacier-nisqually-chute/



Slopes become slightly steeper at around 25-30 degrees.

Medium Exposure (E2)

2 out of 4

As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between February and May


  • Bowl
  • Face
  • Alpine
  • Ski Safari
  • Single Descent

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Skins
  • Crampons
  • Glacier kit

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area