» Snowshoe/XC Ski Short treks from Paradise offer sprawling views of Rainier’s ice-encrusted flanks, where dark rock wedges poke out like shark fins. The 1.1-mile loop to Nisqually Vista overlooks the toe of the Nisqually Glacier to Rainier’s often cloudy summit. Or head toward Alta Vista on a 2.3-mile out-and-back to Glacier Vista.
» Ski Skin 4.5 miles up low-angle slopes to snowbound Camp Muir at 10,188 feet, and look back on sweeping slopes dusted with knee-deep virgin powder (best bet: April). Drop in and descend the Muir Snowfield—nearly a vertical mile between the Nisqually and Paradise-Stevens Glaciers—before arriving back at your car.
» Mountaineer Winter winds ripping across the summit cone of 14,411-foot Mt. Rainier scour glaciers down to concrete-hard ice. Rope up and stomp a crampon into the Ingraham Direct or Gibraltar Ledges Routes. From Camp Muir, the Ingraham Direct route beelines four miles up 45-degree slopes to Columbia Crest, weaving around crevasses that hang open like blue, gaping maws. The Gibraltar Ledges, the standard winter route, has a rocky and exposed crux-traverse across the face of Gibraltar Rock at 12,700 feet.
» Resources Annual climbing pass ($30) and backcountry permit (free) are required on summit bids; obtain them at the Wilderness Information Center; nps.gov/mora. Get weather info at atmos.washington.edu/data/rainier_report.htm. Guides and gear Whittaker Mountaineering in Ashford, WA; whittakermountaineering.com