Title: December 30, 2001, Paradise, Mt. Rainier N.P.
Post by: Charles on 09/17/02, 06:58 AM
Six of us joined the crowd awaiting the opening the Longmire gate, eager to get up to Paradise and into the sunshine. We climbed up to Glacier Vista with hopes of finding some loose snow to ski, dropping down toward the Nisqually, but found only crusty and wind-blown snow, so we continued up to the top of Pan Point. Just about all aspects had some variety of crust, but the crust on the SE-facing slopes below McClure Rock seemed to be strong enough to support a turning skier, so we did a run there, and it was pretty nice (as far as crust goes). I wanted to do some exploring, and had my waxless skis, so I left the group and skied down part way to Mazama Ridge, then dropped into the lower Paradise Glacier valley near where the ice caves used to be. Then I skied up to the saddle overlooking the Williwakas Glacier, hunting for non-crusty, non-wind scoured snow, but didn't have much luck. I found some short stretches of loose snow, topped by hoar crystals, on north-facing slopes, but everything else was either solid or breakable crust, not great for turning but fine for gliding, which is what I did back to the top of Mazama Ridge. I dropped down to the road along the north edge of tree bands and found some loose snow in shaded areas, but most of the snow had gotten sun and developed some breakable crust.
Ron reports that the other 5 skiers, "did a couple of more laps on that slope we were on. It was a little firmer a little further north towards the rocks. Skied on out down the Golden Gates trail. Snow on the way out was grabby in places but nonetheless skiable. We got back to the car about 3:30, left Paradise about 4:00, stopped for dinner at the Tall Timbers in Eatonville (had to! we got stuck in what must have been a 100 car caravan going 5 - 10 mph, we all had a birthday and nearly starved to death by the time we got out of the park!).
There are some photos from this trip here (www.turns-all-year.com/goldhome/index14.html).