May 26, 2001, Third Burroughs, Mt. Rainier NP

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by Charles on 9/15/02 11:32am
I started the climb up to Sunrise before dawn under intense stars, and could see climbers lights on the Disappointment Cleaver and Emmons Glacier routes. The Sunrise Meadows are melting out fast, 1-2 feet remaining, and Igor and Puffy were working hard all day wrecking the snow in the vicinity of the buildings (the Sunrise road gate is closed at the White River Bridge because of this). I skied up to Frozen Lake saddle on mostly well-consolidated snow with good coverage, but had to scramble/boot up to the top of 1st Burroughs because that slope is already quite melted out. From the top of 1st, over 2nd, and to the top of 3rd Burroughs had just one short de-ski, along with a couple of places where I had to switch to "all-terrain" ski mode to get between snow patches. There was a tendency for the snow to be a bit mushier above about 7200 ft, especially on north-facing slopes, but everywhere I could find well-consolidated snow if I picked the right route. It was warm and windless on top of 3rd, so I basked in bare feet, had a second lunch, and took a nap. I saw groups all over the Mountain: Fryingpan Glacier, Mt. Ruth, Interglacier, and the traverse over to Liberty Ridge. I returned by skiing down into Granite Creek Park, over the saddle into Berkeley Park, and then up over the Frozen Lake Saddle (2 de-skis). This is a long, exhausting ski tour, but the terrain is what I dream of, and, being a bit removed from the Mountain, the views are incredible.
Other observations: Interglacier had only a few ski tracks, and I saw 4 skiers descending. A ranger had told me that the crevasses are "still in pretty good shape", and it looked like that was the case, although there was one spot about 1/3 of the way up where all of the climbing paths converged to pass through an unpleasant looking section. The Mt. Ruth route already has one break in the snow, and the upper ridge is melting out fast; Glacier Basin looked well covered. The 2nd Burroughs chutes were not looking good, with melted out bands or big islands of rocks, but some still looked skiable (of course, anything is skiable to someone). Many south to west aspects in the area are already severely melted out, up to 7000 ft. The seemingly good snow coverage above 6000 ft in lesser angled areas is deceptive, as I found large areas of mush-to-the-ground when the depth was below about 1.5 feet - this stuff won't last long with more warm weather. Get it while the gettin's good.


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2002-09-15 18:32:36