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Backcountry touring photos, ski touring photos, waxless skis,
Grand Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Turns All Year: Previous Home Page Galleries
This is a gallery of backcountry touring 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 ski touring photos are from a skiing trip to Grand Park, in Mount Rainier National Park, using waxless skis. Beautiful weather, fast snow, awesome views of the north side of Mount Rainier, and an epic descent of the Grand Park Headwall.
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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 March 28, 2005:
Grand Park Headwall, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, March 13, 2005
Snow! on the trail to Lake Eleanor
Snow! on the
trail to Lake Eleanor
No snow on the trail past Lake Eleanor
No snow on the
trail past Lake Eleanor
No snow on the trail in Grand Parklet
No snow on the
trail in Grand Parklet
No snow on the trail up to Grand Park
No snow on the
trail up to Grand Park
Snow! for backcountry touring in Grand Park
Snow! for backcountry
touring in Grand Park
Ski touring in Grand Park, with sunlit Ptarmigan Ridge
Ski touring in Grand Park,
with sunlit Ptarmigan Ridge
Backcountry touring amid the grandeur
Backcountry touring
amid the grandeur
Ski touring in Grand Park, with Mount Rainier
Ski touring in Grand Park,
with Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier close up photos: sunlit Liberty Ridge
Mount Rainier close up
photos: sunlit Liberty Ridge
Skiing toward an evergreen gateway
Skiing toward an
evergreen gateway
All-terrain skiing in Grand Park
All-terrain skiing in Grand Park
Connecting the snow patches, with Sluiskin Mountain
Connecting the snow patches,
with Sluiskin Mountain
Connecting the snow patches, with Mount Rainier
Connecting the snow patches,
with Mount Rainier
Russ proudly displays his new REI Garage Sale waxless skis
Russ proudly displays his new
REI Garage Sale waxless skis
The Grand Park Headwall looms ahead
The Grand Park Headwall
looms ahead
Skiing to the summit of Grand Park, with Mount Fremont
Skiing to the summit of Grand
Park, with Mount Fremont
Matt skis toward the Grand Park Headwall
Matt skis toward the
Grand Park Headwall
Matt, first turns on the Headwall
Matt, first turns
on the Headwall
Two nice runs and someone's butt hole
Two nice runs and
someone's "butt" "hole"
Charles high on the Headwall
Charles high on the Headwall
Russ parallels the Headwall
Russ parallels the Headwall
Charles tries to avoid a butt hole
Charles tries to
avoid a "butt" "hole"
Backcountry touring toward the afternoon slope
Backcountry touring
toward the afternoon slope
Mount Rainier from the west side of Grand Park
Mount Rainier from the
west side of Grand Park
Russ skiing the afternoon slope
Russ skiing the
afternoon slope
Matt on the afternoon slope
Matt on the afternoon slope
Matt on the afternoon slope
Matt on the afternoon slope
Charles skiing the afternoon slope
Charles skiing the
afternoon slope
Russ on the afternoon slope
Russ on the afternoon slope
A job well done
A job well done
Grand Park ice skating?
Grand Park ice skating?
Ski touring toward silver snags
Ski touring toward silver snags
Aftenoon light in Grand Parklet
Aftenoon light in Grand Parklet

Photos by Matt Depies, Russ Schwartz, and Charles Eldridge

Backcountry skiing trip report:
March 13, 2005, backcountry ski touring and cross-country skiing,
Grand Park Headwall, Mount Rainier, Washington

   New gear, and what better place to put it through its paces than the varied challenges of Grand Park. Matt had new lightweight Garmont Venture 3-pin leather/fabric boots to replace his T2s, which tend to overpower his waxless skis. Russ, but not any Russ that anyone knows, just broke into the waxless world with some new Karhu Dorado skis and Garmont Excursion boots.
   My Highway 410 informant had been sending info that access on the 73 road was good, and we were able to drive to the trailhead, with a little icy snow on the very last bit. It was a bright sunny day, but cool and with a fresh north breeze. There was essentially no snow in the forest, with some thin coverage in glades, so we hiked the trail to Lake Eleanor, then on to Grand Parklet. This meadow was largely melted out to brown grass, with thin snow cover only around the perimeter. The trail remained largely snow-free until just before entering the glades leading into Grand Park, maybe 5300 feet, where it was 2-4 feet deep, smooth, very well frozen corn.
   We put skis on when we got into the sun in Grand Park itself. We strode west to get into the main openings of Grand Park, with their panoramic views of the northeast and north sides of Mount Rainier, then south toward the tip of the park. Very nice striding conditions - smooth, fast, and just softening frozen corn.
   Great areas of the largest meadows in Grand Park are melted out to brown grass or thin patches of snow. We skirted the Grand Park Headwall on the east with hearts aquiver at the thought of actually skiing the thing, and skied as far south as the snow lasted, which was just where the trail starts descending toward Cold Basin.
   Slopes on the north side of Mt. Fremont had amazingly little snow, and looking up Lodi Creek we could see that the north side slopes of 2nd Burroughs Mountain had some continuous lines, but very shallowly filled in. I wanted to see how far we could get up toward Burroughs, but Russ and Matt we eager to tackle the Grand Park Headwall, so we skied back to the summit of Grand Park and battened down the hatches for the big descent.
   We knew that morning-sun slopes would be softened, while afternoon-sun slopes would still be shaded and frozen. Our line therefore led us into The Headwall with a little morning sun aspect. This was a great plan, except for the fact that the tightness of The Headwall couloir forced left-hand turns over to the frozen side. Matt was the first to discover this dangerous fact, but somehow, somehow, he managed to self-arrest (even without Whippets) and then creep down the rest of the slope.
   Russ was next. Carrying his many years of backcountry skiing experience with him, he boldly plunged over the lip onto The Headwall, having never made a single turn on his new gear before. The guy's got guts! He too, fortunately, was able to self-arrest, keeping those guts in the proper place. I was next - oh well, I don't really want to write about that.
   Not willing to concede defeat, we began the long ski back up to the summit of Grand Park. Since we had fishscales, this was real skiing, not that skinning stuff. Once there, we discussed a new plan for tackling the Grand Park Headwall, which basically came down to, "let's do it again". Ahh, the thrill of victory! We nailed that sucker, not just once, but repeatedly. It looked like moguls were starting to form when we were done.
   After a light lunch in the sun, we decided to head to the mellower Afternoon Slope, starting with a great fast glide down into the big Grand Park meadows.
   The Afternoon Slope was in prime shape, with good coverage top to bottom, and generally with 2-4" of softened corn on top of a reliable base. Although we were already tired from our Headwall adventures, we skied the Afternoon Slope until there were just no good lines left. Talk about shredding a slope!
   All of the excitement, not to mention the exertion, left us a little drained, so we headed out for the ski back across Grand Park. The snow was still very nice and fast for striding. We were able to ski down to the end of the glades where the trail descends from the north tip of Grand Park, then it was just a pleasant hike back to the car.
   Charles

What a fabulous trip. Sun was warm, the snow was cool, and the coversations innane. Due to the difficulty in turning our nordic cambered skis we made frequent use of a German technique known as a sitz turn. It is an effective turn but given its radical dynamics it tends to damage the slope. We found that ones "butt" would tend to make a "hole" in the snow. On one unfortunate occasion Russ fell into his own "butt" "hole" and then immediately did another sitz turn.
   Matt

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