February 27, 2002, Lower Paradise Glacier, Rainier

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by Charles on 9/11/02 9:21am
At Paradise it was apparent that the east wind on Monday had been strong, and at the top of Mazama Ridge it was obvious; the rim of the back bowl was smooth ice, the wind having blown the newest snow off down to the crust from Friday's rains. We poked around a little bit trying to find a good run into the bowl, but north-facing was variably crusted, east was breakable crust, and south was hard crust, so we went up into the Paradise Glacier valley, hoping to find wind- and sun-sheltered slopes. Above about 6500' loose snow which had escaped the east wind was powdery. Avalanche danger appeared low due to the crust and lack of substantial snow for transport, but there was a lot of debris from cornice failures from the earlier rain. We went to the Cowlitz Rocks saddle, then climbed up the toe of the Paradise Glacier to about 7800'. By traversing out across a wind scoured area we were able to find a little deeper powder covering the icy layer, but the run down was tricky because some areas looked like soft snow but were really a 1mm veneer over the crust. Descending the rest of the Paradise Glacier valley we found better turning in several areas. The descent from Mazama Ridge was, as usual, variable, and we tried to stay in the powdery snow in the shade, as any sun exposure had produced an unpleasant breakable crust. In the afternoon a strong west wind started blowing, with lots of snow transport, plumes, and even devils, working to scour the last remaining pockets of loose snow.

There are some photos from this trip here.


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2002-09-11 16:21:49