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| | |-+  Feb 28, 2010, Mt Rainier, Muir, Cowlitz, Nisqually
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Author Topic: Feb 28, 2010, Mt Rainier, Muir, Cowlitz, Nisqually  (Read 4129 times)
Amar Andalkar
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Feb 28, 2010, Mt Rainier, Muir, Cowlitz, Nisqually
« on: 03/02/10, 10:13 PM »

February 28, 2010, Mt Rainier: Muir Snowfield, Cowlitz Cleaver, Nisqually Chute, and Nisqually Glacier to the Bridge


Clouds clearing from the Mountain, with Nisqually Glacier and Chute before the slides.

Another great day on the Mountain, with morning high clouds soon clearing out to beautiful sunshine and light winds. Left Paradise around 9:45am, skinned to Camp Muir in just under 3 hours, and then continued up Cowlitz Cleaver to about 10750 ft. Met Ned Randolph (a former RMI guide) at Muir after he'd zipped by me during the ascent, and he joined me and broke trail up the ridge. Ended up skiing with him too, since he'd parked his car at the bridge.


Ned skis the pow on Cowlitz Glacier, with Little Tahoma rising beyond.

We skied some actual powder on the edge of the Cowlitz Glacier (ENE aspect, foot deep) back down to the Camp, then continued down the Snowfield and via Nisqually Chute all the way out to the bridge. Decent windpacked powder on the Snowfield, not bad at all. As we reached the entrance of the Chute, we could see no previous ski tracks but a large natural sluff/slab had come down from the side sometime earlier, along with several older crowns along the edges of the Chute. The large slide had not yet occurred when we skinned up in the morning, and was somewhat worrisome.


Looking down Nisqually Chute, showing the earlier slide debris and older crowns.

Although we'd both come up solo, we'd brought avy gear along and were now wearing transceivers during the descent. Ned figured that the earlier slides had relieved most of the stress, and volunteered to go first despite my hesitation. I figured that with 170+ Rainier ascents (plus a few notable Rainier ski descents), he must know what he's doing.


Looking back at our ski tracks on Nisqually Glacier and Chute. (click to enlarge)

Anyway, it was fine. The snow in the Chute was heavy powder but very stable during our run, nothing moved except a few pinwheels and rollers, and we triggered no further sluffs or slides. Skied the Chute halfway, then popped out onto the slope just west of the main chute and ate lunch in the warm sunshine. Continued in the heavy pow down to the edge of the glacier. Snow on the Nisqually Glacier was surprisingly nice, very smooth and not sticky, and almost corn on the steep pitch at the glacier's terminus, just west of the large cave disgorging the Nisqually River. Really sweet stuff, an unexpected bonus.


Skiing down the terminus of Nisqually Glacier. (click to enlarge)

It was skiable all the way to directly underneath the bridge (3850 ft), except for two river crossings on foot in the last 1/4 mile (wet boots for me). But barely skiable, with a couple thin spots earlier that required side-stepping on skis through constrictions and crossing ski-length bare patches. A brief muddy scramble up the hillside under the bridge brought us out to the parking lot.


Skiing out along the Nisqually River. (click to enlarge)

An unexpectedly excellent day, it was really nice to get almost 7000 vertical feet of mostly good skiing in a single run, despite El Niño's obvious effects. The upper mountain still looks like it should for February, but below 5000 ft it's looking much more like May. The run out to the bridge will not last much longer this year, unless it snows heavily down to at least 3500 ft again.



MOUNT RAINIER RECREATIONAL FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
530 AM PST SUN FEB 28 2010

SYNOPSIS...HIGH PRESSURE ALOFT WILL PREVAIL OVER THE REGION THROUGH MONDAY FOR DRY WEATHER AND CONTINUED ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES.
EXPECT A WEAKENING FRONT TO APPROACH WESTERN WASHINGTON MONDAY NIGHT FOR A THREAT OF PRECIPITATION.
THIS FRONT WILL DISSIPATE AS IT MOVES ONSHORE EARLY TUESDAY...THUS EXPECT MAINLY LIGHT PRECIPITATION DURING THE DAY TUESDAY.
 
TODAY...BECOMING PARTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 5500 FEET.
TONIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL RISING TO 8500 FEET.
MONDAY...PARTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 9500 FEET.
MONDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF RAIN OR SNOW. SNOW LEVEL LOWERING TO 6500 FEET.
TUESDAY...RAIN OR SNOW LIKELY. SNOW LEVEL 5500 FEET.
TUESDAY NIGHT...SHOWERS LIKELY. SNOW LEVEL LOWERING TO 4000 FEET.
WEDNESDAY...SHOWERS LIKELY. SNOW LEVEL 4500 FEET.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT...SHOWERS LIKELY. SNOW LEVEL 4000 FEET.
THURSDAY AND THURSDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 3500 FEET.
FRIDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 4000 FEET.
FRIDAY NIGHT...SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY. SNOW LEVEL 4500 FEET.
SATURDAY...SHOWERS LIKELY. SNOW LEVEL 4000 FEET.

TEMPERATURE AND WIND FORECASTS FOR SELECTED LOCATIONS.

                     TODAY  TONIGHT  MON    MON    TUE 
                                          NIGHT       

SUMMIT   (14411 FT)     11     15     14      5      0
                     NW 17   W 10   S 31   S 42   S 33

CAMP MUIR(10188 FT)     23     30     28     20     18
                     SW 10   S  7   S 19   S 24   S 22

PARADISE  (5420 FT)     42     31     47     32     39
                     NE  3   E  9   E 10   E 10   S  9

LONGMIRE  (2700 FT)     52     31     54     36     46
                      CALM   CALM   CALM   CALM   CALM 


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ovrthhills
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Posts: 199


Re: Feb 28, 2010, Mt Rainier, Muir, Cowlitz, Nisqually
« Reply #1 on: 03/03/10, 07:40 AM »

Nice. We had similar conditions in the chute in early Feb. Slid from the west shoulder while we were at Pebble creek on the ascent but the slide path skied well and the east side was stable.   
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nedski
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Posts: 26


Re: Feb 28, 2010, Mt Rainier, Muir, Cowlitz, Nisqually
« Reply #2 on: 03/03/10, 05:00 PM »

Another lurker outted! Thanks Amar. That was definitely fun and better skiing than expected!
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