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Snowboarding the Emmons Glacier

Mount Rainier National Park

Mid Winter trip up the lower slopes of the Emmons Glacier

Ski Touring Moderate

17 km
1.7 km
1.7 km
1 day +
Low Point
1.3 km
High Point
2.9 km
Snowboarding the Emmons Glacier Map

The moment you read this you are already thinking “ Of course I know the Emmons Glacier Route” but this is a bit different. Because this route is Mid Winter this is just looking at the lower slopes up to Camp Sherman and not up higher. Being that it is winter time winds make the upper slope firm but down lower is just a beautiful ramp of mellow powder snow all the way to the valley. While there are some crevasses most of the area has such a deep snowpack that they are buried.


The hardest part of this tour is snowmobiling through the deep snow up to the White River Campground. If you are lucky it takes around an hour but if not so lucky enjoy digging your sled out time after time. Once at White River Campground start making your way up the Glacier Basin Trail. Just before you get to the first avalanche swath you need to drop down to Interfork creek which is a trail during the summer but you won’t be able to spot it under a deep snowpack. The next few minutes is a step climb up and over the moraine wall before descending down to a spot I refer to as Ghost Lake. Follow it to its Western shore where from here on there should be a semi open route all the way to the toe of the Emmons Glacier.

The hardest part of the Emmons Glacier is heading up the toe making your way lookers right where there is a nice ramp. Standing on the Glacier you are greeted with a great view directly to the summit of Mount Rainier. The trick with this route is to stay on the lookers right gully but make sure to give a bit of space to the south facing slopes in case they do slide. Keep climbing up the long slog all the way up to the same elevation of Camp Sherman where you just do a hard traverse lookers right and can hide behind the bathroom while transitioning if it is windy.

Dropping into the Emmons Glacier we used to joke that it was the longest blue run in Washington State. Being a mellow slope making your way back down the skin track until reaching the bottom of the Glacier. Once in the lower basin make a hard traverse to the skiers left and with a bit of luck you can make it all the way back to Ghost Lake. I’ve exited from here numerous ways but the easiest is just to put on your skins and use your old skin track to get back onto the White River Trail before descending back to the White River Campground.

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



Slopes become slightly steeper at around 25-30 degrees.

Low Exposure (E1)

1 out of 4

Exposure is limited to that of the slope itself. Getting hurt is still likely if the slope is steep and/or the snow is hard.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

between January and April


  • Alpine
  • Single Descent

Equipment required

  • Skins

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area