|from August 23, 2004:|
Paradise Glacier, Mt. Rainier, Washington, August 8, 2004
Thundering herd of
fools carrying skis
Lower Paradise Glacier valley
Lower Paradise Glacier
Bands of new snow
Big crack on Paradise Glacier
Little Tahoma and
Hiking out green
Photos by Ron Jarvis and Charles Eldridge
Associated trip report: Lara, Silas, and I arrived at the 4th Crossing trailhead at the appointed time, and there were no other skiers. That didn't last long. Stefan and Eric pulled up, then Jeanette and Ron. Shortly thereafter Skip and Jordy showed up. As we were about to start hiking, Todd and Paul appeared, along with Paul's cousins from New Jersey who were dying to try some August skiing (although Paul apparently neglected to tell them that the only high-speed quads were the ones below their waists). It was a beautiful morning, the air having been cleansed by the recent rain, sunny but cool. The usually bare rock areas of the upper mountain and Little Tahoma were strikingly white with new snow. Hiking up the trail the masses were startled and amused by the thundering herd of fools carrying skis ("Do you think you will find any snow?"). A stiff easterly breeze kept things cool on Mazama Ridge, and we hit snow entering the lower Paradise Glacier valley at about 6200'. The snow was mildly suncupped - very good for this time of year - and already softening in the sun. We knew that there would be a couple of snow-free areas going up the valley, so everyone just booted.
From the area at the bottom of the toe of the Paradise Glacier, sub-groups went different ways, sampling various aspects, mainly north to east. Most of the snow was minimally suncupped and provided for excellent turns. We went up to about 8000' on the Paradise Glacier, stopping at the big crack (although there appeared to be some reasonable choices for getting across it and continuing higher). Great views of the crevassed mess of the Cowlitz Glacier. New snow from the recent storm had drifted pretty heavily into the cracks, but deposited only a 1-2" skim on the glacier itself between 7500' and 8000', and this was very nice to ski. Fresh powder in August!
Back at the parking lot, Chef MadDog once again grilled to perfection and we enjoyed a gourmet feast: spicy turkey sausages on naan, BBQ ribs, fresh garden tomatoes and cukes in a light dill vinaigrette, sweet potatoes stuffed with beans, goat cheese on delicate crackers, and, of course, appropriately chilled beverages. Thanks everyone for a fun day of August turns!