Home > Trip Reports > June 12, 2008, Mt Rainier, Muir + Cowlitz Cleaver

June 12, 2008, Mt Rainier, Muir + Cowlitz Cleaver

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by Amar Andalkar on 6/12/08 1:20pm
Well, the 2 ft of new snow which fell at Paradise on Monday-Tuesday has already consolidated quite a bit. Ski conditions on the Muir Snowfield are great!

I got another late start and skinned up from Paradise at 11:40am in brilliant sunshine and calm winds, having driven up through a thick marine cloud layer which extended from about 3500 to 4500 ft elevation. Quite incongruously for June, in the JVC parking lot a half-dozen cars sat plowed-in and partially buried by the recent snow. Skinning conditions were very good, with no mush and a supportive surface crust atop the deep new snow all the from the parking lot on up to Muir. It is once again very easy to skin continuously from Paradise all the way to Muir, as the thin areas atop Pan Point are all well-covered now.

Ski tracks in the gully dropping off Cowlitz Cleaver.

Reached Camp Muir at 2:20pm and decided to just keep on skinning, heading left up Cowlitz Cleaver and putting in a few switchbacks as the slope steepened. The snow was somewhat less consolidated on this easterly aspect, with ski penetration of 3-4" while skinning. I stopped at the highest reasonably skinnable point, about 10750 ft, as heading farther up would have required booting up the ridge, not worth it just to get another 100 or so vertical feet. Skied down the steep 40+ degree gully which drops directly from the Cleaver onto the Muir Snowfield at 3:30pm. Decent carveable windpacked powder on the easterly aspect, changing to proto-corn as the gully rolls over onto the steeper southerly aspect. Stability was quite good, with only a single small surface sluff (see photo above).

Ski tracks on the Muir Snowfield.

Snow conditions on the uppermost Muir Snowfield above 9500 ft were good, with small soft sastrugi only a few inches high which was surprisingly fun to ski, but from 9500 down to 7500 ft, it was just FANTASTIC! Very smooth snow with no sastrugi, already well-consolidated in the June sunshine and becoming a wonderful patchwork of nice corn snow interspersed with smaller areas of firnspiegel. The snow got wetter and stickier below 7500 ft, but there was no deep unconsolidated mush to be found. As usual, below Pan Point skiing down the boot path provided the fastest and least sticky progress down to the parking lot. The cloud deck had risen throughout the day, with foggy conditions and only filtered sunshine below about 5800 ft.

A great day of sunshine and corn snow only a few days after skiing June powder!

Mt Adams, Hood, and St Helens above the sea of clouds.

Nice Amar!  That last shot is spectacular.  Such a drastic change in weather from earlier this week.  Nice tr.

What a stark and sobering contrast to Monday and Tuesday . . .

The skiing today was absolutely fantastic.  After driving through Amar's aforementioned cloud layer with a few sprinkles to boot, we emerged upon the glorious site of blue skies and sunshine.  Lamenting our late start (10:30) but happy nonetheless, we skinned up the Muir snowfield in lovely conditions to arrive at  a quarter to 2.  After a short lunch, we descended upon our blank canvas of smooth, consolidated, creamy goodness.  Our start time had been perfect.  WoW.  The snow was incredible.  Amar describes it in more technical terms.  Mine were something like, "Wooohoo, woohoo.  YEAH!!! This is great!!" 

I believe we saw you ascending.  We were three teleskiers turning out of camp about 2:15.  Funny thing is, one of our party members said, "Check out that guy running up the hill!"  And I suspected it might be you although I have not actually had the pleasure of meeting you.  (I believe the tracks in your second picture are ours, though.)  Glad you could partake in the beautiful day that it was, too.

Some of the pictures taken by my point and shoot.

firnspiegel. I keep hearing this word. In American, is that Corn??

I thought it was not exactly corn but more that thin layer of ice that forms from water on top of the snowpack freezing at night and then re-thawing.  Am I wrong?

Wow, I feel honored to be in one of your pictures, Amar!
And, I must agree with you, firnspiegel is magical.  ;D ;D ;D

author=Teleskichica link=topic=10308.msg41588#msg41588 date=1213377907]
Wow, I feel honored to be in one of your pictures, Amar!
And, I must agree with you, firnspiegel is magical.   ;D ;D ;D

...and your turns are looking good :) I'm surprised how consolidated things are. I was expecting to see slop out there. Now I'm really excited for the weekend.

Thanks for the conditions up date Amar.  I was just looking at a plot of snow depth over the last week at Paradise and it has almost melted down to the depth from last weekend.  Good to hear this couch based measure of consolidation is consistent with actual in the field experience!


Beautiful pictures and yes, firnspiegel is just wonderful fun to ski -- almost musical, though I always forget the name.

Proto-corn, on the other hand -- that's a really fun term.  I'm going to attach proto to all sorts of things in my daily conversation now.

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Amar Andalkar
2008-06-12 20:20:40