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Fuhrer Finger Ski Descent to Nisqually Bridge

Mount Rainier National Park

One of the longest continuous ski descents in the continental US!

Ski Touring Severe

20 km
2.9 km
3.3 km
1 day +
Low Point
1.2 km
High Point
4.4 km
Fuhrer Finger Ski Descent to Nisqually Bridge Map

All Mount Rainier routes are fairly serious. The Fuhrer Finger is a step up in difficulty from the Emmons or Ingraham Glaciers with less traffic and more glacial difficulties. That is balanced however by being an incredible ski descent with fantastic opportunities for corn and very long - with bonus vert down to the Nisqually Bridge if conditions allow!


Starting from the Paradise overnight lot, follow the Dead Horse Creek and Skyline Trails. These can be a convoluted mess of skin and snowshoe tracks. This might be the most helpful place to have a GPS, especially if it's dark! Quickly you pop out of treeline and should aim for Glacier Vista. Here you split off from the Pebble Creek Trail and the main route to Camp Muir (more tracks go this way) and drop off the moraine above the Nisqually Glacier. By climbing a bit higher on Glacier Vista, you get a slightly more direct descent to the Nisqually rather than a long sidehill.

The lower Nisqually is relatively straightforward to cross, aiming for the Wilson Glacier. You're moving under an icefall to the only viable ascent route. After a steep section, you come to a nice flat point on the lower Wilson Glacier with water running off rocks in the springtime. Continue switchbacking up the Wilson on the climber's left side. Eventually the track splits again near the rocks to head to the Kautz Glacier Route. This rib is a great campsite if doing it in several days!

Cross the Wilson and move through an area with some large crevasses. This may be a crux later in the season! This takes you to the base of the Finger which is the looker's right couloir. The Fuhrer Thumb is just to the left and slightly steeper and more sustained! Boot directly up the Finger and watch for overhead hazard from the sun and other climbers! At the top of the Thumb proper, the angle eases off and it may be possible to return to skinning depending on conditions. You continue up a face feature along the Nisqually Icefally. Here the route may split. Some years it works climbers left along the cleaver rib and connects to the top of the Kautz Glacier. Other years it busts right onto the upper Nisqually Glacier. This is determined by bergshrunds, crevasses, and your comfort. This is also a good spot to just turn around and enjoy the skiing on the Finger if you're not worried about the summit!

Both routes head for the high point of the upper Nisqually and try to avoid a large bergshrund that forms here. There may be some significant wandering here! Continue to the summit rim and then follow it left to the true summit.

For the descent, reverse your ascent route! You may see slight variations possible - for example, it may be possible to ski more directly down the Wilson Glacier as shown on the track. The best variation is skiing the lower Nisqually Glacier as shown. It is totally possible to boot back up to Glacier Vista and retrace the route exactly to Paradise but if conditions allow, it is possible just to continue skiing down the lower Nisqually along the skier's left bank all the way to the Nisqually Bridge with a short boot back to reach the road. If you're considering this, make sure to look off the bridge while driving up to decide if there's enough snow cover! It's usually pretty easy for one person in your party to hitch a ride back up to Paradise and bring your car down.



Steep skiing at 38-45 degrees. This requires very good technique and the risk of falling has serious consequences.

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 March and June


  • Face
  • Alpine
  • Couloir
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Glacier kit

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area