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Paradise Glacier

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by TimD on 6/16/22 9:18pm

With the weather forecast showing at least an ok day for Wednesday June 15, I made a few late inquiries and ended up deciding to ski the Paradise Glacier solo.  Drove down the night before and stayed in the pleasant mostly empty Cougar Rock campground.  Started up the normal route to Muir just before 8AM.  Booted up the steep part of the Pan face on the left following another group who left a convenient trail. Skinning conditions were good with good grip and little sink.  There was promise of the forecast partial clearing with occasional bright moments amidst the gray.  Made it to Muir by noon where it was 36 degrees in the empty hut, a good place to escape the now persistent wind.

One of the independent climbers came over to check out the hut as a break from hanging out in his tent.  He explained as how no one had summited, what with high winds and lousy visibility.  Another feature was the persistent weak layer about two meters down in the high mountain snowpack, with the ongoing risk of a low probability climax avalanche of the size that ran down the Winthrop Glacier last week.  That is, you might be one serac collapse or cornice fall away from disaster, so the NPS is recommending climbers just wait for safer conditions.

I headed down without delay as the visibility was deteriorating in flat light.  The first thousand feet were easy noisy turns on smooth frozen shmoo.  It was pretty good unconsolidated carvable wet snow to about 7000', then the usual slow warm slushy snow to the road.  Because it was hard to see features and I was alone following a conservative path, my gps track is kind of wonky.  One of the pictures shows a fracture line above me on the Cowlitz Glacier with the runout far to lookers right of the sort I'd never seen there before.

While the usual rocky spots are melting through, there is plenty of snow to ski for quite some time yet.

Pan Face


Mt Adams in the light


Upper Mountain fog


Fracture Line


8 km, 01:38:51

Thanks for the great TR Tim. It was nice chatting with you on the road during our stroll after our less successful outing.

Thanks for the report, good corn has been scarce so far. Now feeling very lucky to have found one good day on this route in May. But also looking forward to the rest of this long season. 


Paradise Glacier, May 22 2022


Thanks for the report & pictures, coverage looks great. Are you sure that's an avy crown, Tim? I recall a crevasse in that location under Anvil rock in the past.

Kam - we looked at it yesterday. I believe it is actually both. There is debris below it. It looks like it release on the edge of the the classic upper paradise glacier crack. 

We saw a few other large crowns on steep faces below the finger skiers right of the lower Nisqually. (Kam - close to the location of the largest wet slide we've ever seen circa out 2018? finger ski) 

Hopefully everything stabilizes. 

Thanks Will


What's crazy is that earlier crown under Anvil is nothing compared to the more recent slab that ripped out of there some time in the last week! Climbing rangers think wet slab

Size 4 avy Cowlitz

My son and I repeated this trip July 1.  We left the car at 8:37am making Camp Muir 4:45 later, or amazingly slower than the Furher Finger report.  There are now substantial snow gaps on this route.  We saw a pretty good avalanche on what I think is the Kautz, a calving off of a chunk of ice that piled up in a short debris fan.  We saw some helicopter activity that the rangers wouldn't say much about. We saw one guy go up on a harness suspended below the helicopter and return a half hour later with two people, who were dropped off then the heli came back to land for a bit.  They reinstalled the doors, stowed the suspension gear, loaded up and flew off.

The skiing down to 7800' towards the Paradise Glacier was just great corn.  The fracture line I noted a few weeks ago was more visible this severe clear day so we could see the debris field clearly. At that point it got heavy such that by 7400' it was a bit of a slog to Mazama Ridge.  For whatever reason the turns improved for the run down to the hairpin turn, thence trudging up the cleared open road back to the car.  On this route the snow is continuous to the road.  A fabulous day all around.



14.9 km, 07:00:28

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2022-06-17 04:18:07