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Author Topic: Oct 18, 2011, Mt Rainier, Muir, Smooth Sunset Corn  (Read 7947 times)
Amar Andalkar
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Oct 18, 2011, Mt Rainier, Muir, Smooth Sunset Corn
« on: 10/19/11, 11:49 AM »

Oh, wow! I wouldn't have even bothered to post a TR, except that this run was so mind-blowingly good. Just absolutely smooth corn, re-firming to perfection as the sun's angle dropped about 45 minutes before sunset. Perfect for ripping huge GS and SuperG turns over the wide open expanses of the Snowfield. And I never even planned to go to Muir this time!


(click for double-size version)

Three-shot panorama looking back up the Mountain from just below Pebble Creek.


Tuesday's forecast called for near-perfect summer-like weather, sunny with a 14000 ft freezing level and very light winds of under 15 mph all the way up to 14000 ft -- followed by clouds and rain for at least the next 6 days. So Tuesday was a day to head high and look for corn, a likely prospect given the 4 days of sunshine since the end of the most recent storm cycle. I thought the perfect ski plan would be Mount Adams, with the Southwest Chutes (or even the South Rib) likely to provide over 5000 vert of smooth corn from the summit down to about 7000 ft. But I didn't feel like burning 22 gallons of gas by myself to drive there and back (via the shortcut way, or 30 gallons via the interstate), and despite asking numerous people to join me, could get no takers: those who wanted to go had to work, and those who had Tuesday free didn't want to go. Lame.

I set the alarm for 4am Tuesday morning hoping for a miracle, but found no one calling and couldn't pull the trigger on the $90+ gas bill solo, so I went back to bed. Woke up again a few hours later  with no plan and deep depression setting in, watching the sunshine stream into my condo and staring out the window at Glacier Peak, the great inaccessible white temptress of the Central Cascades, taunting me in the distance. As 11am neared, I snapped out of my funk, came to my senses, and realized that I had to ski -- I could not let the last sunny day for who-knows-how-long go to waste. Now there was only a single worthwhile option left given the late hour: it had to be Muir, again. Soon I was cruising down the road to Rainier as fast as safety and avoiding tickets (and snapping a quick photo) would allow.


The Mountain, Tahoma Glacier, and cows from the viewpoint on SR 161.

Whatever advantages the approach from 4th Crossing may have, speed in reaching Camp Muir is not among them -- the extra mile of distance and 200 ft of vert add an extra half-hour at least versus starting from Paradise via the normal route. And on this day as 2pm neared with sunset just after 6pm, I had a need for speed. Plus I expected that most of the new snow below 6200 ft was gone, melted by 4 days of sunshine, so the Paradise Glacier route would clearly not be skinnable a mile from the car as it had been only 5 days earlier. Normal route it would be today.


New snow all gone at 6000 ft on the trails above Paradise.

As expected, most of the new snow below Pan Point was gone, and although there were large patches of it remaining from 6800 ft on up, nothing was continuous until Pebble Creek. Arrived at Pebble Creek at 3pm (strangely, totally dry with no running water), having passed only a single skier hiking back down the trail who reported decent but getting-mushy ski conditions. A few minutes later another skier appeared, gliding down the slushy snow of the final roll near 7250 ft. Had a nice long chat while I switched to skis and skins. I would see no other skiers or boarders this day, and only a handful of hikers on the Snowfield either -- very odd for such a sunny perfect day, even a Tuesday.


Looking back wistfully at the day's intended objective, Mount Adams, rising over the Tatoosh Range.

Now it was getting really late, almost 3:30 pm by the time I was skinning up from the creek, and my legs still felt tired from Saturday's Baker summit ski. My pace felt slow and sluggish, and I feared that I would not make it to Camp Muir before the Mountain's shadow had overtaken the upper part of the Snowfield and plunged it into crusty darkness, the soft corn quickly turning to frozen nastiness and breakable crust upon removal of the sun's radiance. I've had that happen a few of times over the years here, and regretted not skiing down earlier each time. I figured I might have to turn around by 9200 ft atop Moon Rocks to avoid that fate this time.


Skinning up from Pebble Creek.

And then by 8000 ft, a second wind, an unexpected surge of energy and sustained cardio. Soon I was cruising uphill at 1500 vert per hour, good enough to make it there in sunshine, even if not fast. Arrived at Camp Muir at 5:20pm, with the sun only tens of minutes from slipping behind the corner of the Mountain, and I headed well east below Muir Rocks to maximize the time before shadow.


Beating the setting sun to Camp Muir.

A nice changeover in the warm sunshine, with only a light breeze at my stopping point -- it looked windier and colder only a hundred yards away in the shadow, one guy was walking around near the buildings in a Himalayan-size down parka. And then finally making turns at 5:30pm, hoping the snow would still be good. The first turns confirmed that, and much more -- the slightly slushy corn I had skinned up was resetting and firming up as the sun dipped lower, making the ski conditions nearly perfect. Smooth and fast, with only a few other tracks that were easily avoided most of the time and effortlessly carved through when crossed. An absolute joy to be blasting down the Mountain at warp speed, after such a late start followed by doubts about my speed and fitness during the ascent.


Smooth ripper corn, my tracks are the large-radius arcs at right.


(click for double-size version)

Two-shot panorama looking south at Goat Rocks, Adams, Hood, and Saint Helens.

Back to Pebble Creek in only 12 minutes, even with a few stops for photos along the way. But among the best 12 minutes of skiing I've had in a long time, despite skiing in great conditions thrice already this month. A leisurely break while my high slowly settled down, enjoying the last warm rays of the day, and waiting for the sunset colors to emerge. Heading back down the trail at 6pm, but soon stopping over and over to shoot the sunset.





Back to Paradise at 7pm in substantial darkness, with only the paved trails of the last stretch saving me from having to pull out the headlamp. An unexpectedly epic day on the Mountain, and I was totally stoked, tempered only by the thought that Washington's second highest mountain 50 miles to the southeast might have been even more epic. Hope that somebody skied Adams yesterday in hero corn.



MOUNT RAINIER RECREATIONAL FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
417 AM PDT TUE OCT 18 2011

SYNOPSIS...OFFSHORE FLOW WILL PRODUCE A SUNNY AND MILD DAY TUESDAY. A WEAK UPPER TROUGH WILL MOVE OVER THE AREA WEDNESDAY...BRINGING CLOUDS AND COOLER TEMPERATURES. A SERIES OF WEATHER SYSTEMS WILL AFFECT THE AREA THURSDAY THROUGH THE WEEKEND FOR RAIN AT TIMES WITH SNOW OVER THE HIGHER TERRAIN.

TUESDAY...SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 14000 FEET.
TUESDAY NIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL 13000 FEET.
WEDNESDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL 10500 FEET.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT...CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF RAIN AND SNOW. SNOW LEVEL 8500 FEET.
THURSDAY...RAIN AND SNOW LIKELY. SNOW LEVEL 7000 FEET.
THURSDAY NIGHT AND FRIDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF RAIN AND SNOW. SNOW LEVEL 6500 FEET.
FRIDAY NIGHT THROUGH SUNDAY...RAIN AND SNOW LIKELY. SNOW LEVEL 8000 FEET.
MONDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF RAIN AND SNOW. SNOW LEVEL 6000 FEET.

TEMPERATURE AND WIND FORECASTS FOR SELECTED LOCATIONS.

                       TUE    TUE    WED    WED    THU 
                            NIGHT         NIGHT       

SUMMIT   (14411 FT)     25     18     14     10      8
                     SW 15  SW 25   W 30   W 50   W 35

CAMP MUIR(10188 FT)     44     36     31     29     24
                     SW 10  SW 15   W 25   W 35   W 30

PARADISE  (5420 FT)     60     40     45     37     42
                     NE  9  NE  5  SW  6  SW  6  SW  6

LONGMIRE  (2700 FT)     62     43     52     42     49
                      E  6  NE  7  SW  5  SW  5   W  5


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toby_tortorelli
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Re: Oct 18, 2011, Mt Rainier, Muir, Smooth Sunset Corn
« Reply #1 on: 10/19/11, 02:10 PM »

Nice tracks!!!
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wolfs
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Re: Oct 18, 2011, Mt Rainier, Muir, Smooth Sunset Corn
« Reply #2 on: 10/19/11, 02:12 PM »

A Prost to the often overlooked virtues of a late in the day start! I've had four  different trips like that out of Paradise this year, and 3 out of 4 I was pretty convinced that I had better snow and a more memorable experience playing chicken with the sunset versus having started at "normal" time and letting daylight (and twilight, and the last possible light) go to waste.
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Robie
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Re: Oct 18, 2011, Mt Rainier, Muir, Smooth Sunset Corn
« Reply #3 on: 10/19/11, 05:15 PM »

I consider it sinful not to leave the house here in Sumner by 5am . But then again a couple of my best Muir trips were  late in the day skiing down as the sun set .  Huh?
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"I bought my rope at Walmart ,my gloves at costco but paid dearly for my dynafits"
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Re: Oct 18, 2011, Mt Rainier, Muir, Smooth Sunset Corn
« Reply #4 on: 10/19/11, 05:24 PM »

Woke up again a few hours later  with no plan and deep depression setting in, watching the sunshine stream into my condo and staring out the window at Glacier Peak...

Glad you had another great day in the mountains but, with all do respect...   Cry
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bfree32
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Re: Oct 18, 2011, Mt Rainier, Muir, Smooth Sunset Corn
« Reply #5 on: 10/19/11, 06:07 PM »

Love that first panorama!
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gregL
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Re: Oct 18, 2011, Mt Rainier, Muir, Smooth Sunset Corn
« Reply #6 on: 10/19/11, 07:05 PM »

Yeah, it was just as good on Monday. Hard to believe all the gritty suncups from September were gone, it was perfectly smooth from Muir to below PC, with an inch+ of soft corn on top . . .
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gregL
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Re: Oct 18, 2011, Mt Rainier, Muir, Smooth Sunset Corn
« Reply #7 on: 10/19/11, 07:11 PM »

$90+ for gas? Jeez, Amar, time to get a different car!

And what's up with the Tall Timbers? Windows papered up, sign says "Closed Indefinitely" - ron j?
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Robie
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Re: Oct 18, 2011, Mt Rainier, Muir, Smooth Sunset Corn
« Reply #8 on: 10/19/11, 07:15 PM »

Quote
Love that first panorama!

especially with the culprits larger than life shadow!
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"I bought my rope at Walmart ,my gloves at costco but paid dearly for my dynafits"
Apparant Moderator of what sucks
ron j
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Re: Oct 18, 2011, Mt Rainier, Muir, Smooth Sunset Corn
« Reply #9 on: 10/19/11, 08:54 PM »

And what's up with the Tall Timbers? Windows papered up, sign says "Closed Indefinitely" - ron j?
The word I heard was that owner died.
All the old locals have moved to "Cruisers". The one on the corner is good too.
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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
OldHouseMan
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Re: Oct 18, 2011, Mt Rainier, Muir, Smooth Sunset Corn
« Reply #10 on: 10/19/11, 10:50 PM »

Nice report. I get quite a few late afternoon/evening skis in on Hood during the summer fall months. Some of the best snow I have ever skied is during this time of day.
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