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| | |-+  Feb 15, 2010, Mt Rainier, Muir + Nisqually Chute
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Author Topic: Feb 15, 2010, Mt Rainier, Muir + Nisqually Chute  (Read 7566 times)
Amar Andalkar
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Feb 15, 2010, Mt Rainier, Muir + Nisqually Chute
« on: 02/16/10, 01:08 PM »

Three of us (Dave Brown, Clint, and I) headed up to Muir for Presidents Day. The forecast looked good, partly sunny with moderate winds predicted at 10000 ft, even though telemetry and webcams showed that it had rained up to perhaps 8000 ft on Sunday, with only a brief changeover to snow at Paradise in late afternoon. The Longmire gate apparently opened shortly after 7am (holiday hours?), and the parking lot was looking busy by the time we arrived just before 10am. The Mountain was out, topped by a nascent lenticular and trailing another in its lee.

Skinning up, the snow conditions were as expected: rain crust topped by a half-inch of snow bonded into it, with somewhat increasing amounts of windpacked snow atop the crust above 6000 ft. Followed a nice skin track up Pan Face, then cut left and made our own skin track around the knob above Pan Point (near 7000 ft) to avoid a needless icy sidehill which was giving other skinners fits. Light winds at Paradise, but steadily increasing with elevation above Pan Point, SW at about 20-30 mph, making things quite chilly on the upper Snowfield. Joined a few other skiers and boarders huddled in the partially snow-filled Muir Hut around 1:30pm, then skied down around 2pm.



Despite the icy blasts of wind, ski conditions on the Snowfield were very good, mostly smooth windpacked powder, predictable and carveable with no crust. Not the outrageously amazing graupel-powder found here a week ago (see TR), but nonetheless far above average for mid-winter above timberline. Dave was insistent on skiing Nisqually Chute, and conditions certainly looked stable enough to do so. But as we approached the Chute's entrance from above, we encountered an icy rain crust up to about 8500 ft, still on the surface only in the windswept areas near the entrance (even a few hundred yards farther east towards the main Snowfield, the crust was buried by snow). The crust gave us some pause, but we dropped in anyway and found nice windpacked snow with no crust in the steeps of the Chute. Stability was excellent as expected, no snow movement whatsoever, and we enjoyed first tracks for a thousand vert down the gut. We exited out the right side of the Chute at 7400 ft, just above where the big cornice starts, and skied the broad open face down towards the Nisqually Glacier. I found the snow here to be heavy, but my partners thought it was still great. A couple of snowboarders followed us down the Chute and enjoyed the goods too. We rested in the warm sunshine and near-calm at 6400 ft, suddenly sweltering after shivering in the winds up high only minutes earlier.



Dave insisted on a second run, and as if shot out of a cannon, plowed a steep unforgiving skin track back up the Chute. Clint and I followed up to 7300 ft, switching over to ski mode around the same time as Dave did so near 8000 ft as conditions grew too icy to easily skin up any further. The sun had dropped behind some clouds, and the snow was quickly firming up. In addition, the light had gone extremely flat, possibly the flattest light I've ever encountered in otherwise 100% open visibility (with no snow, fog, etc.). The ski back down was tricky in the crusting snow and flat light, and the sun finally poked out from beneath the cloud layers just AFTER we skied down. Oh well. A quick skin back up to Glacier Vista brought us to the crustiest and nastiest skiing of the day, a rutted minefield of breakable crust back down to the parking lot, and great caution was needed to avoid a nasty spill or injury.



All in all, a great midwinter day on Mount Rainier, with good to great snow conditions up high far outweighing the crust down low. And partway through the day, I suddenly realized that February 2010 was my 100th consecutive month of skiing. I'd already skied twice in Feb, but somehow the thought of the streak had never crossed my mind those times. Anyway I was stoked! And it's nice to have shared the year-round ski experience with so many of you on this site!



MOUNT RAINIER RECREATIONAL FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
337 PM PST SUN FEB 14 2010

SYNOPSIS...A WEAK RIDGE OF HIGH PRESSURE OVER THE COASTAL WATERS WILL SHIFT INLAND TONIGHT AND EAST OF THE CASCADES ON MONDAY.
A FRONTAL SYSTEM WILL MOVE THROUGH THE AREA MONDAY NIGHT AND WILL BE FOLLOWED BY A COOL UPPER TROUGH ON TUESDAY.
HIGH PRESSURE ALOFT AND LOW LEVEL OFFSHORE FLOW WILL GIVE DRY AND MILD CONDITIONS TO THE AREA LATER THIS WEEK THROUGH THE WEEKEND.

SUNDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. SCATTERED SHOWERS THIS EVENING. SNOW LEVEL 4000 FEET.
PRESIDENTS DAY...PARTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 5000 FEET.
MONDAY NIGHT...SNOW AND RAIN. SNOW LEVEL 5000 FEET.
TUESDAY...SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 4500 FEET.
TUESDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SHOWERS. A CHANCE OF SNOW SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 3000 FEET.
WEDNESDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 4000 FEET.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT THROUGH SUNDAY...PARTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL 5500 FEET.

TEMPERATURE AND WIND FORECASTS FOR SELECTED LOCATIONS.

                       SUN    MON    MON    TUE 
                     NIGHT         NIGHT       

SUMMIT   (14411 FT)      7     10     10      5
                      W 28   W 30  SW 37  SW 55

CAMP MUIR(10188 FT)     17     24     25     20
                     SW 12  SW 22  SW 50  SW 45

PARADISE  (5420 FT)     25     37     30     37
                      N  3  SE  4  SE  8  SW  7

LONGMIRE  (2700 FT)     29     42     35     43
                     NE  2  SE  3  SE  5  SW  8


« Last Edit: 02/16/10, 03:28 PM by Amar Andalkar » Logged

steve_f
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Re: Feb 15, 2010, Mt Rainier, Muir + Nisqually Chute
« Reply #1 on: 02/16/10, 03:25 PM »

Way to go on 100 months Amar.  I enjoy reading your TRs.

"good to great snow conditions up high far outweighing the crust down low"
Your description fits the Mt. Hood skiing conditions lately as well. 
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Rusty Knees
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Re: Feb 15, 2010, Mt Rainier, Muir + Nisqually Chute
« Reply #2 on: 02/16/10, 07:37 PM »

Nice centennial TR, Amar!  Congratulations on your perseverance.
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The best part of summer skiing is napping on a warm rock.
JibberD
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Posts: 608


Re: Feb 15, 2010, Mt Rainier, Muir + Nisqually Chute
« Reply #3 on: 02/16/10, 07:44 PM »

As usual, great report and photos Amar!

You've got to love those guys who insist on laying a skin track for another run at the goods.

100 months, excellent! So what is the gestation period of your guide book? Or did I miss its release?
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-Doug O
Kyle Miller
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Re: Feb 15, 2010, Mt Rainier, Muir + Nisqually Chute
« Reply #4 on: 02/16/10, 09:45 PM »

Congrads on your 100th

That is quite a impressive streak.
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In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO HAPPEN....no matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............
silaswild
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Posts: 1586


Re: Feb 15, 2010, Mt Rainier, Muir + Nisqually Chu
« Reply #5 on: 02/16/10, 10:11 PM »

Hope you enjoy the second 100 even more!   Congrats.
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ovrthhills
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Posts: 199


Re: Feb 15, 2010, Mt Rainier, Muir + Nisqually Chute
« Reply #6 on: 02/17/10, 09:59 AM »

We experienced the same conditions about ten ago, days including the flat light with no fog or snow and barely survived the ski back to the parking lot.  Actually thought about  putting skins back on to ski down.  Glad things stablized after last week's snowfall. 
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daveb
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Posts: 162


Re: Feb 15, 2010, Mt Rainier, Muir + Nisqually Chute
« Reply #7 on: 02/17/10, 12:19 PM »

Yeah Amar, Happy 100!!

I added a photo of Clint near the bottom of the chute.


* DSCF2735.jpg (165.46 KB, 1000x750 - viewed 1464 times.)
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ryanl
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Posts: 345


Re: Feb 15, 2010, Mt Rainier, Muir + Nisqually Chute
« Reply #8 on: 02/18/10, 09:42 AM »

way to go Amar. I have alot of respect for your streak. For you. Keep it going- and keep me in mind come July when the snow lies further from the trailhead. I should have more than enough motivation saved up by then to get us to wherever it may be....
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unclebo
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Posts: 40


Re: Feb 15, 2010, Mt Rainier, Muir + Nisqually Chute
« Reply #9 on: 02/21/10, 05:48 PM »

As a newbie - congrats on the Centurion
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