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April 6, 2003, Mt. St. Helens

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by TMoate on 4/7/03 12:12am
A half dozen current and ex UW'ers on tele gear with a token AT skier made the trek down south on Saturday afternoon for a Sunday tour. Arrived at Marble Mtn Sno-Park about 5 pm, snowing heavily and 5" of new already in the parking lot (4 cars total). With tacit approval from the local authorities and a forecast for 12" more overnight we got to bivvy in the USFS day hut (nice, firewood provided). Since we were prepared to car camp we had relatively luxurious conditions for the pasta feast.

Woke up early (remember, Spring ahead) to 14" of new fluffy powder and hit the swift creek trail with high expectations. Hopes for a.m. powder shots were quickly dashed with unsettled spring weather. Heating, cooling, flurries, wind, warm mist, blizzard, fog, and sunshine were each briefly encountered roughly in that order. Avy conditions were as forecast, W wind had loaded up the E. aspects. Cornices were impressive in places. E facing point releases and surface sloughs were evident on steep slopes > ~ 50 deg. Using terrain management we were able to safely asend to 6400' with tough trailbreaking in a sunshine sucker hole. As the sun was starting to cook the snow around us we decided to start skiing from there instead of pushing on in marginal conditions. The choice was a good one as we had very good snow for the decent with 4-6 inches of soft, carveable velveteen over a firm, stable crust. Stayed on low angle S. aspect terraindown to ~5000'. Looked at a 30 deg roller, S. aspect. The snow profile from two hasty pits looked looked good with no loading, progressive density to a very hard crust at 18" depth. Ski cut was good and we descended one at a time. A good time had by all. Continued down on the ridge W. of the Worm Flows route to the Christmas tree glade and traversed back E to Chocolate Falls. The zippy run on the wet snow of the trail back to the Sno-Park was as usual, very fun. 1.5 miles of perfect grade cruising right to the parking lot.

Overall we salvaged a very fun day and some good skiing in less than ideal conditions. There was not any evidence climbing permit enforcement. There were also few snowmobiles  :) The coverage is very good, this trip should go for quite a while yet. One note, there are nice pit toilets at the Sno-Park, but NO water so bring a jug.

Nice report, Tom.
Thanks.  It's getting to be that time of year, isn't it.

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2003-04-07 07:12:48