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| | |-+  May 24, 2004, Muir Snowfield
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Author Topic: May 24, 2004, Muir Snowfield  (Read 2459 times)

Posts: 8

May 24, 2004, Muir Snowfield
« on: 05/24/04, 12:36 PM »

This was a crazy trip. First of all this was only my second backcountry trip. The first was snowboarding Avalanche Gulch at Mt. Shasta a few weeks ago when I was in California for work. Secondly, the weather was pretty tough. It rained at Paradise when we left the car at 11:00 and it snowed on us the whole way to Muir with extremely low visibility, at times we couldn't see the next post marking the trail. Apparently it was beautiful all day in Seattle. I talked three of my friends into trying for Muir. Two of our group didn't have anything to ride down the mountain but this trip convinced them they should seriously consider getting skis or a board soon. I had no idea what to expect, except that there would be no crevasses to worry about and we could follow a relatively easy to find route. The hardest part to deal with was the visibility. Between the four of us, none having been up there before, we did alright. Every one of us is experienced at backcountry travel, just not necessarily in a white-out on Rainier. It wasn't really that cold and we moved pretty quickly, so a few of us were in short sleeves despite the blowing snow. I think it took us about 5.5 hours to get up there including a few long breaks. We passed a lot of boarders coming down on the way up and only a few skiiers. Didn't see anyone skinning up, most were hiking. I found boots and gaitors to be just fine for about 95% of the trip up. A guy at the REI rentals counter told me not to bother renting snowshoes or crampons because I really wouldn't need them, and then he gave me a few tips and recent reports and saved me a lot of money. My friend Joe was trying out the Denali ascent snowshoes, more for fun than necessity. They seemed to work well on the steeper slopes. Toward the top the snow became softer with a nice covering of powder. I guessed about 4-5 inches fresh, maybe more in places. We were looking for Camp Muir but with almost no visibility we had no idea how much farther it was. We estimated we were somewhere above 9,000 feet. So with the weather getting the best of us, we turned around; two of us carving beautiful lines and the other two running down the mountain like crazy people and trying to glissade, which was only possible for them on the steeper slopes. The snow was great for the upper 2000 feet or so. It was a little slow, though great powder. So nice to carve in untracked powder! I only experienced that a few times at lift areas, mainly at Baker. Toward the lower 2000 feet the snow went through various phases of heavy, wet, and slushy. But the good news is there was no ice, which I encountered plenty of at Shasta. For the lower part of the run I pulled out a treking pole to keep me going in the flatter areas, but the snow was so slow that I had to push with the pole to even move in places. Next time I come to Muir I'll wax my board. By the time we were back to the parking area it immediately started to clear up, probably around 7:00pm. We saw our route and could actually see where we had turned around...about 200 feet below Muir! Close enough for now. I'll be going up there a lot this summer I'm sure. I'm planning to make Adams and St. Helens my next boarding destinations. After 3 years living in Arizona and 3 years in Iowa I have finally returned to the land of year round snowboarding and I need to make up for lost time. I love this state!
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