Home > Trip Reports > May 18, 2003, Paradise Glacier, MRNP

May 18, 2003, Paradise Glacier, MRNP

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by ron j on 5/19/03 7:24pm
In past years we preferred to climb up Cowlitz Rocks and scope out the Paradise Glacier one weekend and then ski it from above the following weekend.
But for some reason we just could not be that patient this year.  So, nonetheless being old (at least some of us) and conservative (most or all of us) we decided to climb it from the bottom with rescue gear and look it over on our way up.  
By Sunday the trip shaped up to be Jeanette, Darryl, Jerry and Dan, along with yours truly.  Then Ed happened by us in the parking lot looking for the Mounties instructors and leaders picnic.  Upon hearing our planned destination, decided to join us instead.
Climbing up we found all the normal crevasses covered except the schrund below Anvil.  The recent snow (about 8 inches to a foot) was well bonded to the bomber crust below it, so our main concerns for the day would be sun warming to create heavy snow and wet snow sloughing in south aspects on our way out.
The trip went off without a hitch and a great time was had by all.
Here is a shot of Dan having his way with the last major pitch:

We saw three distant skiers on Cowlitz Rocks and later two others on the PG.  Other than that we had the mountain to our selves.  

More shots are at:

Jerry will have some better ones up when he gets his posted.  He has pretty much usurped my group photographer role, with his superior gear and skills.

Yeah, it was a memorable day, Jeff.
Sounds like you guys had your way with Shasta, too, huh?

Not hardly ;D ;D ;D

Regine and I and Kirstin and Pete were up on Mazama; Kirstin & Pete skied the E-facing back bowl and Regine and I made two long runs down 9-1-1 (south facing slope of the back bowl), 1 down the NE facing slope, and 1 down the N facing slope then we went over and did a run down the West-facing slope above Paradise Valley Road--best skiing of the year. abc

Now ,That's taking one for the team!

Jerry got some pretty good shots.
His photos are at:

Nice phoots, Jerry. What are the peaks in the background? Is that the Tatoosh--I'm a WA gaper.

(photo removed - too wide and 2nd in thread - see http://www.turns-all-year.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=ha2;action=display;num=1053712912 -- Charles)


PS: your webhost (community.webshots.com) is checking the referr element of the http header to make sure photos are only viewed from their site; so i had to save your photo to a different server)

You obviously know what you're doing on the computer, Jeff.  It took me a couple of days to figure that out about Jerry's photo site.  I see you got to the bottom of it post haste.
Yeah, that's the Tatoosh beyond the gapers... left to right it's Castle (above Jeanette's head) Pinnacle, and Plummer Peaks.   All great skis!

WoW ;D

this looks sooo nice! (I live in FLorida) and my b-day is on May 18 - looks like you guys have a a fine day...

I plan to ride the Muir snowfield or Paradise or something else around Rainier just after July 4th. Any tips / suggestions are more than welcome.

i have some problems, though: no experience mountaineering whatsoever and my would-be partner thinks it's too dangerous so he won't come (he does not have experience either.)

I wrote to Mike Gaulthier, chief climbing ranger on Rainier and he never responded - i think he did it on purpose so that I stay home... I still plan to go

Anyway, I have done lots of riding in BC forests and cliffs years ago, survived 2 small avys and one quite big (managed to get out by myself while my partner was on the top.) On the other hand, I have no training nor skills, we kids never used shovels, transceivers... never dug snow pits and in my country there were no avalanche info reports. we didn't even carry a day pack, no food or water either - just went out and did it... obviously this was pretty stupid.

SO now I am trying to do things right. Any advice is greatly appreciated. I plan to use a split board w/ skins and poles (do I need crampons or board crampons?) will buy a shovel and maybe GPS / compass / altimeter combo unit. Do not plan to bring ice axe, carabiners, nor rope - I have no idea how to use these anyway... How is July for crevasses? What are conditions like? I have the 100 Washington Ski + Snowboard routes book but it does not seem sufficient.

thank you

Buy the shovel and an avy beacon, Ivo, and if you like (and if we are not too boring for you  :) ), you can go out with us on a day trip or two while you're here the first part of July.  

Regardless of who you go with, start slow, go with experienced folks, ask questions and gain experience.  It's not a race; you don't need to get it all done at once.  Just enjoy each outing for what it is.

As you might suspect, 'Gator (Mike Gauthier) gets a lot of email. With his full time job of running the climbing rangers in a bureaucratic environment, promoting his book and photography business, he doesn't have a lot of time left for answering mail.  Maybe we'll run into him when you're out here and you can meet him.  He's a nice guy who dearly loves the mountains (rides a board, too!).

The crevasses are usually out in all their splendor by July, but not to worry, there's plenty of places to go where we don't have to worry about crevasses.

Burgdorfer's a good choice in guide books for the area.

If you have a GPS Ron could probably give you waypoints;D; maps with compass directions are available at the ranger/climbing office at Paradise parking lot (5420 ft). Riding the snowfield is no great technical challenge; it has a mild to moderate slope From Camp Muir (10,000 ft) on the way down till some steps just above Pebble Creek (ca 6800 ft I think) and Pan Point; Pan face is steep, but you may have to walk down the trail anyway depending on how fast the snow melts out. in July you should be able to walk to Camp Muir w/o using crampons or snowshoes/skis/splitboard.  Your main job will be to stay on course (usually there is a well developed trail in the snow and a real trail leading up to the top of Panorama Point); your main threat to your safety will be weather; just make sure you pick a day with a good stable weather report; just in case you could carry wands to mark your way; clouds can move in quick.   Most people that get hurt at that elevation wander off the snowfield onto the Paradise Glacier to the E (you should avoid it in July) or towards the Nisqually Glacier on the other side.  If this summer is like last, you need to watch out for crevasse-like cracks in the snowfield at about 9000 ft.  I usually carry enought stuff that we can stay the night if necessary and 1st aid kit/extra clothing if someone gets hurt.  Other don't carry much of anything.abc

ron j and acarey - thank you very much!

ron, i did not think a beacon would do me any good because i thought i was going solo. i would gladly buy one and join your group - my mobile is 407.687.3814, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - we need to talk about logistics. I am visiting a friend in Chicago and then arriving to Seattle to visit another friend on the evening of July 5. Then I leave back for Orlando on July 13.

Would you recommend a special beacon model?

If I was going to buy a beeper today I would proly go with the barryvox or the tracker.  However if you're only going to be here for a week it might make better sense to rent one.  you might try Marmot in Bellevue or Backpacker Supply; proly locate them both at:


Marmot lists the tracker for $290 but rents beacon for $20 for 2-4 days. it makes more sense to me to just rent as I won't be using it so much, as you noted. i also told my friend in seattle to ask if he can borrow one for me.

Randy Oakley sent me a nice response by e-mail but said it would be hard to get in shape for the ascent in FLorida. Are you guys fast or more laid back?


We're more like half fast  ;)
I wouldn't worry too much about it.  From the sounds of things I'm probably about the same age as your grandpa.  
Looks like July 4th weekend is all you have available.  We'll proly do a local day trip on that Sunday... possibly something a little more adventurous if the forecast is for severe clear, like maybe Mt. Adams (if we haven't done it before then).  Shoot me an email when the time gets a little closer.  We'll figure something out.


this sounds great. i plan to leave the laptop at home for the trips  ;) but i should be able to check e-mails / internet. I do not want to be invasive but maybe you can give me a phone so that I can talk to you about the plans and when I get to Seattle? my mobile is 407.687.3814. ah, and I am not that young - just turned 29 (i thought i was 28 but my wife corrected me, hehehe)

Cheers and happy turns - I am sure you'd have a number of other nice trips while i am stuck here and am a liiitle envious

Reply to this TR

ron j
2003-05-20 02:24:21