Fuhrer Finger to Nisqually Bridge Ski Descent on Mt. Rainier

Mount Rainier National Park

One of the most classic and longest ski descents in North America!

Ski Touring Severe

Distance
21 km
Ascent
2.9 km
Descent
3.3 km
Duration
1 day +
Low Point
1.2 km
High Point
4.4 km
Gradient
37˚
Fuhrer Finger to Nisqually Bridge Ski Descent on Mt. Rainier Map

One of the longest continuous ski descents in world!

Description

Most parties will start at the Paradise Climber’s Lot. Climb up the trail towards Camp Muir but drop onto the Nisqually Glacier near Glacier Vista (avalanche slopes). Continue up the left side of the Nisqually and onto the Wilson. Early season with good coverage, there are minimal crevasses and the Wilson can be climbed fairly directly. Later it’s necessary to wander significantly and stick to the ridge left of the Wilson.

Most parties camp at a prominent rock outcrop at ~2800m. Expect to be melting water and be cautious of camping in an area where rockfall or avalanche can affect the site.

Traverse the top of the Wilson Glacier to hit the obvious right-hand gully. Climb the gully until it opens into a face forcing you up and right until crevasses bar the Nisqually Glacier. A steep pitch of snow or ice leads up left to gain the upper ridge. This snow pitch is guarded by a bergshrund that may require a rope.

From the upper ridge, rejoin the Kautz Glacier route and traverse right back onto the upper Nisqually Glacier to reach the summit crater!

Descend by reversing the route back to the Nisqually Glacier. Either climb back up to Glacier Vista and Paradise, or better yet and if coverage is good, continue skiing down the (skier’s left) bank of the glacier to hit the Nisqually River and end up at the bridge at ~1200m! Hitchhike back to Paradise :)

Difficulty

Severe

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

High Exposure (E3)

3 out of 4

In case of a fall, death is highly likely.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

April, May, June

Features

  • Face
  • Alpine
  • Couloir
  • Single Descent
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

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