Home > Trip Reports > April 19, 2003, Castle Saddle (6,200') MRNP

April 19, 2003, Castle Saddle (6,200') MRNP

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by MW88888888 on 4/19/03 9:10pm
Trip length: about 4.5 miles
Vetical drop: 1,750' on the topos, but an extra 500' in laps!

The gate was open!  Arriving at 8 am we had planned on a breakfast of hash browns and eggs at the lodge, but instead we drive right up to Narada Falls parking lot and geared up happy with this unexpected twist of fate.  There we saw one other car and met Andy and Regina, who it turned out was also on the way to Castle Saddle.  Lucky for us - route finding turned into chasing these two thoroughbreds up their skin tracks - and Ron and I could put our maps away and enjoy the view.

Interestingly, the Narada Face was covered in debris from the road above - the road crews were just starting to work the road out to Reflection Lake - and the face was a frozen wall of ice which bearly accepted a well-driven boot.  We passed the road crew on the skin out, busy at work in a depressingly large job of moving ten feet of snow from the long road.

Turning up the NW ramp to The Castle we found 2" of smooth new snow over a frozen surface that held our weight just fine.  As we climbed, the snow got deeper and deeper, until in the Bowl below The Castle we had 6"-8" of untracked fresh Cascade Powder.  At the Pass, we were afforded magnificent views of Mt St Helens, Adams, and of course, the Muir route on Rainier.  Another unexpected delight - unobstructed views!

Andy took first tracks in the bowl and Regina followed, carving solid tele turns in the dense powder.  Ron and I went next and then had lunch at the bottom of the bowl.  As we were gearing up for another lap, we were joined on the trail with MD2020 and posse, and a veritable train of skiers charged up the skin track.  As expected, Andy and Regina lapped us and were heading up for more.

On the descent, we decided to try the chutes off the Northeast of the shoulder.  There we found delightful untracked powder that slowly gave way to mush in the lower altitude and sun.  We worried about surface slides and worked our way one at a time from safe zone to safe zone as best we could, finally arriving at the road after a short traverse through the woods.  The ski out was almost hot in the burgeoning sun, and the Narada Face was transformed into a delightful corn descent to the approval of the tourists now milling about the parking lot.  1:30 pm and five hours on the trail.    

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2003-04-20 04:10:05