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Mount Rainier snow conditions: skiing, Paradise, Muir snowfield, Paradise Glacier
Turns All Year: Previous Home Page Galleries
This is a gallery of Mount Rainier snow conditions photos which appeared on the Turns All Year home page in the past. Thumbnail images on this page can be clicked to view the full-sized photos, and lead into a slide show sequence for the gallery. These Mount Rainier snow conditions photos are from a backcountry skiing trip to the Muir snowfield and Paradise Glacier in February of a very poor snow year.
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Turns All Year CD-ROM

The complete version of this photo gallery is now available on Turns All Year CD-ROM. Below you can view thumbnail photos from this gallery.

Turns All Year CD-ROM contains over 180 photo galleries, containing more than 3200 full-sized photos, from backcountry skiing and snowboarding trips in the Pacific Northwest.

from February 7, 2005:
Mount Rainier snow conditions: Muir snowfield, Paradise Glacier, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, February 2, 2005
Two-thirds of the cars in Paradise
Two-thirds of the
cars in Paradise
Nisqually Chutes and Muir snowfield
Nisqually Chutes
and Muir snowfield
Wilson and Nisqually Glaciers, Mount Rainier
Wilson and Nisqually
Glaciers, Mount Rainier
Shiny snow, Tatoosh Range, Mount Adams
Shiny snow, Tatoosh
Range, Mount Adams
Muir snowfield from near Pebble Creek
Muir snowfield from
near Pebble Creek
Skiing near 9000', with Nisqually Glacier icefall
Skiing near 9000', with
Nisqually Glacier icefall
Nisqually Glacier icefall, Mount Rainier
Nisqually Glacier icefall,
Mount Rainier
Anvil Rock and deep blue sky
Anvil Rock and deep blue sky
Slow progress on icy snow near Moon Rocks
Slow progress on icy
snow near Moon Rocks
Little Tahoma and Cowlitz Glacier
Little Tahoma and
Cowlitz Glacier
Cowlitz Rocks and wind-scoured Paradise Glacier
Cowlitz Rocks and wind-
scoured Paradise Glacier
Gibraltar Rock, Cathedral Rocks, and Cowlitz Glacier
Gibraltar Rock, Cathedral
Rocks, and Cowlitz Glacier
Cowlitz Rocks and Goat Rocks
Cowlitz Rocks
and Goat Rocks
Skiing tracks, toe of the Paradise Glacier
Skiing tracks, toe of
the Paradise Glacier
Good skiing, sun-warmed slope below Paradise Glacier
Good skiing, sun-warmed
slope below Paradise Glacier
Paradise Glacier, summit of Mount Rainier
Paradise Glacier, summit
of Mount Rainier
Wide open bed of Stevens Creek
Wide open bed
of Stevens Creek
Looking south to shiny snow
Looking south to shiny snow
Stevens Creek, Unicorn Peak, Mount Adams
Stevens Creek, Unicorn
Peak, Mount Adams
Lower Paradise Glacier valley, ice caves area
Lower Paradise Glacier
valley, ice caves area
Mount Rainier from near Golden Gate
Mount Rainier from
near Golden Gate
Edith Creek basin
Edith Creek basin
Great skiing in Edith Creek basin
Great skiing in
Edith Creek basin
Mount Rainier, black and white photograph
Mount Rainier, black
and white photograph

Photos by Charles Eldridge

Backcountry skiing report, Mount Rainier snow conditions:
February 2, 2005, Muir snowfield, Paradise Glacier,
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

The deck of clouds gave way to brilliant sunshine as I got around to the south side of Mt. Rainier. Sailed through the Longmire gate at 8:40 to a shocking sight at Paradise: two cars. And not much snow. Actually the coverage wasn't too bad - for late June. It seemed more like November, though, with lots of brown and leafless plants showing in the greater Paradise area. The snow surface was refrozen and hard, and this hard layer seemed to be present everywhere I skied during the day, covered with varying amounts newer snow. More breakable crust - over 1-2" of newer snow - as I skinned up to the base of Panorama Point. The winter route had been extensively skied and was very firm, but at the edges there was undisturbed snow where the crust made for good footing (didn't bring crampons).
    It became moderately windy above Panorama Point, and though there was more of the newer snow, it was also more wind affected - sastrugi, breakable crust, and patches of boilerplate. With the continuing wind, I didn't have much hope for the snow softening, but I continued up anyway, hoping that maybe the Paradise Glacier would not be so wind affected. Just below Moon Rocks, I talked to two people who had been up on Gibraltar Ledges, and they said that up to Camp Muir there was even less of the newer snow left. I took a short lunch break just below the Anvil Rock slope and watched a hiking snowboarder take about 30 minutes to make it up the roll along side Moon Rocks. The wind had gotten pretty strong and was busily eroding what was left of the newer snow.
    The upper Paradise Glacier had not escaped the effects of the wind, but at least there wasn't really any breakable crust. For the first 500 feet the skiing was tricky, though, in alternating areas of moderate windcrust, soft sastrugi (remnants of the newer snow), very smooth and firm windpack, and boilerplate with little lumps that looked like melted marbles. It was hard to get much of a rythym going, so I did more traversing and explored a little - nice views skier's left where the Paradise Glacier merges into the Cowlitz Glacier. The snow started getting better around the rock island, and below it I started looking for the big crack around 8000'. No sign of it or any others. From there down to the bottom of the Paradise Glacier the skiing got better and better as the snow was even less wind affected and had softened more.
    I was on fishscale skis, so I sampled a number of small slopes on both sides of the lower Paradise Glacier valley on the way back. The upper west slope on Cowlitz Rocks was wind affected and not very good, but elsewhere on both sides of the valley the skiing was very nice. The 2-4" of newer snow had softened nicely - not exactly corn snow, but nice spring skiing conditions. Instead of exiting down to Mazama Ridge, I climbed out of the valley and skied over to Golden Gate. North-ish facing snow on the climb was very shiny breakable crust, suggesting that skiing conditions on the north side of the Tatoosh Range might be pretty bad, as the snow over there had looked shiny all day.
    The south-facing Golden Gate slope had nice turning, though the entrance was pretty bare. I wasn't sure about being able to cross Edith Creek down lower, so I traversed around the head of the basin and climbed over a rib to what turned out to be the best slope of the day - steep corn. Too bad it wasn't 1000 feet long. A few minutes later I was back at the car.
   Charles

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