June 20, 2001, Spray Park-Flett Glacier, Rainier
WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
The road was still gated at the Paul Peak trailhead, about 5 miles from Mowich Lake, so I mounted my skis on my mountain bike and started pedaling. First snow patches on the road at about 4400ft, and continuous snow at 4600ft, where I started skiing. There was continous snow, about 3-4ft, at Mowich Lake, and the valley leading up to Knapsack Pass was well covered, but with an increasingly deep layer of relatively new snow, which was softening rapidly on this warm, sunny day. On the east side of Knapsack, the newer snow had avalanched in two places, with very well defined, 1 ft fracture crowns that were quite wide. Continuous snow cover over Mt. Pleasant and into Spray Park, with more connected snowfields leading from Spray Park up to the lobes of the Flett than I have seen before. I went up to about 7800ft between Echo and Observation, and did a 500ft run; the newer surface snow was frozen enough to stay on top of, and provided nice skiing. Climbed back up, traversed west, and descended a Flett lobe past the little moraine lake and into upper Spray Park. Between about 7000 and 6500ft the newer snow softened and my turns plowed down into 8-10 inches of heavy mush. After that, it was mostly touring back to my tracks by Mt. Pleasant, and then over Knapsack and back to my bike. A nice trip with lots of touring (get out those no-wax skis!) and good runs at the top.
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