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Author Topic: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier  (Read 31237 times)
Lowell_Skoog
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June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« on: 06/27/11, 01:21 PM »



Steph skiing toward Cowlitz Rocks on Easter Sunday, 1996. She was five months pregnant at the time.


With my wife away on a climbing trip I wanted to take my son backcountry skiing this weekend.  Tom wanted to invite his friend Peter, who has only skied lifts up to this point.  Fortunately, Peter fit into a pair of my AT boots, so I was able to lend him the equipment he needed.

Paradise was an obvious destination.  Both boys are intrigued by Mount Rainier and I think they'd like to climb it some day.  I've taken Tom up the Muir Snowfield a few times and he's been challenged by the thin air above 8000 feet.  I thought a lower tour might be more enjoyable, especially for Peter's first day on backcountry skis.

Cowlitz Rocks came to mind.  The view from Cowlitz Rocks is better than the Muir Snowfield and the area is much less crowded.  The idea especially appealed to me when I realized that Tom had been there before.



Tom (age 14) skiing toward Cowlitz Rocks, June 26, 2011.


On Easter Sunday, 1996, my wife Steph and I did an easy ski tour to Cowlitz Rocks.  Steph was five months pregnant at the time.  According to my journal it was the only ski tour we did together during her pregnancy with Tom.  Fifteen years later, Tom (now 14) is becoming interested in backcountry skiing.  Visiting Cowlitz Rocks with him would close a unique circle.

We left the Paradise parking lot around 10:30 a.m. and skied and climbed to Panorama Point.  The day was windless and warm, and the boys suffered from heat-induced "glacier lassitude."  A light breeze above McClure Rock was a big relief, and the boys were reenergized when we crossed onto the Paradise Glacier around 8000 feet.  A few crevasses have opened on the Paradise Glacier near its western edge, where it pulls away from the ridge next to the Muir Snowfield.  We gave these a wide berth and I instructed the boys to stay close to my tracks and always stop above me as we angled away from the crevasse zone.  Soon we were on unglaciated slopes and we enjoyed mushy corn snow into the basin that once held the Paradise Ice Caves.



Left: Steph near Cowlitz Rocks in 1996. Right: Tom and Peter below Cowlitz Rocks, 2011.


The basin was deserted.  Although hundreds of hikers and skiers swarmed the Muir route, nobody had entered Paradise Basin for several days.  The boys led the way to the top of Cowlitz Rocks and Tom humored me while I replicated a photo I'd taken with his mom fifteen years earlier.

The west facing descent back to the basin gave us the best skiing of the trip. Excellent corn snow. Not too soft.  We continued down the basin then made a skins-off contour to the shoulder above Golden Gate.  We enjoyed fun skiing into Edith Creek Basin (summer snow, a bit sticky), then followed the snow-covered trail back to the Visitor Center.  The parking lot was buzzing with activity.  Hundreds of people were enjoying their National Park. It was a great day to be out on the mountain.



Closing the circle: Atop Cowlitz Rocks with mom (left) and Tom (right), 1996 and 2011.


« Last Edit: 06/27/11, 01:36 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
Marcus
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #1 on: 06/27/11, 01:30 PM »

Neat trip Lowell -- I love the "that was then" comparison shots.
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Andrew Carey
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #2 on: 06/27/11, 02:31 PM »

Yes, very nice.  Saw your tracks as we overlapped part of your tour today.
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... want your own private skintrack? Better move to the yukon dude. (B'ham Allen, 2011).
...USA: government of the people by corporate proxies for business.

Andy Carey, Nisqually Park, 3500 feet below Paradise
Randy
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #3 on: 06/27/11, 03:20 PM »

That's really awesome Lowell -- what fun.
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JibberD
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #4 on: 06/27/11, 05:34 PM »

This report makes me happy!

Also, Lowell, you've aged amazingly nicely. "Well preserved" as my wife Jennifer would say.
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-Doug O
jesski
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #5 on: 06/27/11, 06:38 PM »

Those pictures are really cute.
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bringing the fun since 1984
ron j
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #6 on: 06/27/11, 07:08 PM »

Pretty cool, Lowell.
It's nice to se the backcountry "take". Smiley
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"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." - Niels Bohr
"If a given person makes it a priority not to die in an avalanche, he or she stands a very good chance of living a long, happy life in the mountains." - Jill Fredston
mick_scott
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #7 on: 06/27/11, 09:45 PM »

What a great story!! Thank you for taking the time to share. I look forward to getting my boy out on the mountain someday soon!
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BUSHWACK AND....
Gary_H
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #8 on: 06/27/11, 09:55 PM »

Lowell,
This is a great report!. Spending time in the mountains with family is so rewarding. In your last photo, the similarities in facial expressions between your son and your wife are striking.

Thanks for sharing,

Gary
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There is no such thing as too much snow............... Doug Coombs
Oyvind_Henningsen
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #9 on: 06/28/11, 11:24 AM »

Lowell and Tom - thank you for sharing these special moments with the rest of us.  Spending time together as a family in the mountains is very rewarding and where some of the strongest and fondest memories are created in my opinion.
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Lytt til erfarne fjellfolk!
Joedabaker
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #10 on: 06/28/11, 10:35 PM »

Nice fun report Lowell.
Did Tom ever get this deep seated feeling like he had been there before, but just can't place it?
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Roger Strong
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #11 on: 06/28/11, 11:07 PM »

Thanks so much or sharing Lowell...very touching as it reminds me of my parents getting me into the mountains at a very early age...some of the best memories.  I only hope that our daughter (just turned 2) will be psyched on the magic and beauty of the mountains as well...
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cumulus
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #12 on: 06/29/11, 12:34 PM »

very cool!  enjoying the circularity
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Stefan
sheispiste
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #13 on: 06/29/11, 11:35 PM »

Thanks for sharing Lowell. I'll have to see those two in the mountains, now that they are out of the halls!
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any day in the mountains is a good day in the mountains
Stefan
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #14 on: 06/30/11, 09:02 AM »

cool!

Ok.  What is up with your kid having braces?  You and your wife have perfect teeth!!
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #15 on: 11/22/15, 04:59 PM »

Some friends and I visited Paradise Glacier basin on Friday, and I brought some ashes to scatter. Thanks to Steve for holding the camera.

Remembering my wife Steph, in body and spirit, November 20, 2015, Mount Rainier National Park.

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ron j
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #16 on: 11/22/15, 06:07 PM »

A fitting spot, Lowell.

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"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." - Niels Bohr
"If a given person makes it a priority not to die in an avalanche, he or she stands a very good chance of living a long, happy life in the mountains." - Jill Fredston
Norseman
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #17 on: 11/22/15, 09:21 PM »

My two partners observed tracks departing the col that day and wondered who might have made them. Bittersweet to now know the story. Thanks for sharing.
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skibacks
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Re: June 26, 2011 - Closing a circle on Mount Rainier
« Reply #18 on: 11/24/15, 11:02 PM »

Well done Lowell.

So sorry for your loss.  What an amazing person Steph was.

Steve Backstrom
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skibacks
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