Hiking the Glacier Basin trail
Snow on the Glacier Basin trail
Russell Cliff and Liberty
Cap from Glacier Basin
Booting in Glacier Basin
Split boarding up Glacier Basin
Looking up Glacier Basin,
with St. Elmo Pass
Looking down Glacier Basin
Into the snow zone
Starting the run down Interglacier
Eric split boarding
on Inter Glacier
down Inter Glacier
on Mount Rainier
Carving into nice snow
Making splitboarding look easy
Split boarding the breakable crust
Final turns on Inter Glacier
Looking toward Mount Ruth
from Glacier Basin
Two photos from previous trips of Inter Glacier (Interglacier) and Mt. Ruth in good weather
Photos by Charles Eldridge
|Backcountry splitboarding - split boarding - snowboarding trip report:|
Glacier Basin, Inter Glacier (Interglacier), Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, May 13, 2005
Met up with Charles by 6am at the Safeway in Enumclaw. The plan was to beat the forecasted storm on this Friday the 13th. As luck would have it the predicted weather easied off a bit. That was apparent as we drove on 410 under nothing but blue skies and sun. Pulled into the White River campground with about a half dozen cars. Temperatures were hot! That was a no brainer after driving thru Buckley and the temp gauge reading in the 50's at quarter till 6.
By 8am we were on trail at 4,250ft making the 3 mile hump into Glacier Basin. There are not too many views of the surrounding terrain from this trail - mostly just trees and the sounds of raging water. Encountered snow about 1.5 miles in on the Glacier Basin trail and the first cloud. Snow was continuous on trail but not over the many bridges. One could skin it but it would require many carry down 4 foot snow bank, cross bridge, climb 4 foot snow bank, and repeat over and over. By 5,500ft skinning was the most efficient mode of transportation but since we were making such good time Charles and I kept going on the boot track. Shortly after we arrived at Glacier Basin. The views were nothing short of amazing. The basin is full of avalanche debris. The majority of possible lines dropping into the valley had avalanche paths (ie: Dog Leg chute off Ruth). Some of the slides had even run up a short distance across the valley floor and wiped out trees near the camp sites. Also lots of crazy formations from avis past.
Ê While trading our shoes for boots I noticed that I had forgotten to lace them before leaving. Dooh! I ended up using my pack tether for one boot and connected the laces from my shoes for the other. So after ditching our shoes we started skinning up Glacier Basin and rounding Mount Ruth for my first view of the Inter Glacier. I was on a split board, Charles had telemark skis. For the most part Inter Glacier is crevasse free with only a few hints (eg. sags) here and there. Avalanches had also carved paths down both sides of the glacier.
Ê Snow thus far was soft suncupped with a hint of dirt mixed in. As the elevation and slope pitch increased the snow became smoother. It wasn't corned to perfection but in transition. Depth also varied along the slope. Some places were an inch or two on top a hard unbreakable crust. Other sections we could break thru the thin crust layer. Still going to be a good ride down.
Ê At 8,500 feet a break was in order. Views of Glacier Peak, Stuart Range, etc., could be seen in the distance. The south sides of all the Burroughs were melted out. Hope they open Sunrise before it's too late but after this weekends rain... Soon after we began skinning again high clouds started coming in from the southeast side of the mountain. Didn't take long for mother nature to display the wonderful shades of gray. However they were high clouds so Charles and I kept skinning. At 9,000 feet it started snowing lightly. Clouds were dropping upon the weather's arrival. I stopped just after another 100 feet but Charles kept going. He stopped couple hundred feet above me below a roll. Snow was really coming down now. Above the roll was whiteout.
Ê After getting our gear strapped on it was time for the harvest. The couple inches of wet fresh carved like butta. Down below those variable sections made for some interesting turns and straightlines. Instead of snowballs rolling down hill and gaining snow they did the opposite until they disappeared. Charles cut one that a had 10 foot rooster tail behind it. No signs of instability were found on our run out. We were able to pick our way down a major gully to 5,500ft. The hike out was enjoyable since there was a cloud cover. It also started raining lightly as we arrived back to the car. What a day! My altimeter read we gained over 5,000 vertical feet and rode a couple hun under 4,000ft. Not too shaby considering what I did on Saturday and Sunday.