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Author Topic: May 7, 2012, Mt Rainier, Muir Snowfield, Sick Corn  (Read 5364 times)
Amar Andalkar
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May 7, 2012, Mt Rainier, Muir Snowfield, Sick Corn
« on: 05/08/12, 12:38 PM »

Yes, I was sick. And yes, there was corn. Some sick corn:




While out skinning and skiing some laps of 12-16" deep May powder at Crystal Mountain (closed) on Friday, I was really fatigued and knew something wasn't right. By Saturday morning, a headache and cough verified that I had a cold. It got worse and worse by Sunday, so no skiing for me over the weekend, especially depressing given the beautiful sunny Sunday. So lame. The weather for Monday was forecast to be even nicer than Sunday, followed by a couple of days of increasing clouds -- I had to try to ski.


Snowdepth at Paradise on May 7 was 203" on the NPS snow stake (130% of normal), with 192" at the NWAC telemetry site.

I felt slightly better Monday morning, and given the forecast, I couldn't resist heading up to Muir with an afternoon start, skinning up from Paradise just before 1pm. A group of 3 climbing rangers skied down past me a few minutes later, they had made a summit attempt via Ingraham Direct earlier in the day, but turned around near 12600 ft due to concerns about the deep softening new snow. They felt that the ID route was in good shape, but getting broken up rather quickly. Another pair of skiers I spoke with later had skied the ID from 13400 ft, and apparently another pair had skied from the summit.

Note that the winter route to Muir is almost completely melted out near 7400 ft, it was barely skinnable and would not have been skiable -- skin up via Pebble Creek from now on. The winter route just never really had much snow stick to it this year, probably due to high winds this winter, it stayed bare and rocky even into January and February, and now it's done by early May.



Occasional high cirrus drifting by produced numerous solar halos, and along with an intermittent breath of cool breeze, kept it from getting too hot. But I was dragging the whole way up, and it took me almost 4 hours to reach Muir, about an hour longer than my trips there in April. Still coughing occasionally, it was hard work this time, but worth it to enjoy the sunshine and nearly calm wind. Very few people up there, mostly I enjoyed long stretches of quiet solitude between occasional brief encounters. Even following traces of a previous skin track, I was getting ski penetration of 1-3" in the sun-softened snow.



Arrived at Muir and was shocked to see someone's tent set up on the heli-pad (the round stone-walled platform), the first time I've ever seen that in 130+ trips to Muir. Camping on the heli-pad, or on any bare ground, is prohibited at Camp Muir, one must camp on snow or stay in the public shelter (this is all specified when you get your camping or climbing permit, even self-issued). But apparently the climbing rangers had allowed that group to keep their tent on the heli-pad, since it had already been set up for a couple days before the rangers arrived and no helicopter flights were planned, although they were told they'd have to move the tent if a landing were needed.



There were also several people standing and walking and even cooking on the roof of the public shelter -- the sign telling people not to walk on the roof (which causes it to eventually develop leaks) is missing, perhaps blown off in winter storms. Anyway I did inform the people on the roof, as nicely as possible. I was told that the rangers had seen people on the roof and not said anything -- not sure why that would be. I don't want the rangers to be like cops, but I also don't want the roof of the public shelter to leak! If you want to catch sun on a roof at Muir, please use the roof of the stone storage building a few feet west of the public shelter.



Skied down just after 5pm, the skiing was unexpectedly good above 7500 ft, it was corning up nicely after 3 days of sunshine since the early-May storms ended. This was a fine time to ski this day, during the second window when the snow is re-firming slightly as the solar angle decreases, but not yet crusting over as it would once the sun goes off the slope. The uppermost Muir Snowfield above 9500 ft was not smooth though, it's covered in large gentle waves of snow about 1-3 ft high, but spaced dozens of feet apart, so it's still easily skiable if you stay to skier's right. But especially from 9000 down to 8000 ft, the surface became very smooth and was untracked along skier's right, with several inches of nice softened corn on a firm base -- really sweet  turns, see first photo above. Snow conditions should only improve further with a few more days of sunshine and clear nights.



The snow became sticky below 7500 ft as Pebble Creek neared, and it was sticky unconsolidated glop from Pebble Creek to Paradise, as expected. Best to follow old ski tracks as much as possible down there. Panorama Face was just a mess of foot-deep glop with countless intersecting tracks and postholes, but stability was really good, and nothing was sliding even in the warm direct afternoon sun. No instability was seen anywhere all day, which seems reasonable given that 3+ days had passed since the heavy snowfall ended on Friday. Only a moderate amount of slide debris was visible from previous days, in the usual spots like Nisqually Chute (which was all slides and debris). A couple of solo skiers were even heading uphill as I neared Paradise just before 6pm, aiming to enjoy a nice sunset ski:



Anyway, despite my illness and exhaustion, it felt so good to get out and ski some sunny spring corn on the great Mountain. By the time I was driving home, though, the cold had relapsed and I pretty much sneezed all evening and then coughed all night. Slept very poorly, and am still coughing a lot now as I write this -- hopefully I can recover before the sunshine and warmth rebuilds later this week. The forecast for Friday through Monday looks stellar as of now. Perhaps it's time to ski this:





MOUNT RAINIER RECREATIONAL FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
400 AM PDT MON MAY 7 2012
 
SYNOPSIS...AN UPPER RIDGE WILL BRING SUNSHINE AND WARM TEMPERATURES TO THE NATIONAL PARK TODAY. AN UPPER TROUGH WILL GRADUALLY MOVE INTO THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY FOR CLOUDIER AND COOLER WEATHER AND SCATTERED LIGHT SHOWERS. THE SNOW LEVEL WILL FALL TO AROUND 4000 FEET WEDNESDAY. ANOTHER UPPER RIDGE WILL BUILD OVER THE REGION LATE THIS WEEK WITH A RETURN TO SUNSHINE AND WARMER WEATHER THAT SHOULD LAST THROUGH THE WEEKEND.

MONDAY...SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 8500 FEET.
MONDAY NIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL 10000 FEET.
TUESDAY...PARTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 9000 FEET.
TUESDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 6000 FEET.
WEDNESDAY...PARTLY SUNNY WITH A CHANCE OF SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 4000 FEET.
 
TEMPERATURE AND WIND FORECASTS FOR SELECTED LOCATIONS.

                       MON    MON    TUE    TUE    WED 
                            NIGHT         NIGHT       

SUMMIT   (14411 FT)     19     18     14      9      0
                     SW 20  SW 30  SW 45  SW 60   W 45

CAMP MUIR(10188 FT)     34     33     26     17     10
                     SW 15  SW 20  SW 35  SW 45  SW 40

PARADISE  (5420 FT)     60     39     56     26     36
                     SE 10  SW 10   W 10   W 15   W 20

LONGMIRE  (2700 FT)     68     41     64     33     44
                      S  5  SW  5   W  5   W 10   W 15
 
 ++ TEMPERATURES AND WIND FOR THE SUMMIT AND CAMP MUIR ARE AVERAGE
    CONDITIONS EXPECTED IN THE FREE AIR AT THOSE ELEVATIONS.
 ++ TEMPERATURES FOR PARADISE AND LONGMIRE ARE THE EXPECTED HIGHS AND
    LOWS. WIND IS THE AVERAGE WIND EXPECTED DURING THAT PERIOD.

EXTENDED FORECAST...
 
WEDNESDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SHOWERS. BREEZY. SNOW LEVEL 4000 FEET.
THURSDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 4500 FEET.
THURSDAY NIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL 6000 FEET.
FRIDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 7500 FEET.
FRIDAY NIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL 9500 FEET.
SATURDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 11000 FEET.
SATURDAY NIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL 12000 FEET.
SUNDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 11000 FEET.


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wood_Ster
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Posts: 33


Re: May 7, 2012, Mt Rainier, Muir Snowfield, Sick Corn
« Reply #1 on: 05/08/12, 12:47 PM »

nice photos of the permanent contrails - those appear to be cirrus clouds after being suspended in the atmosphere for a few hours.
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JoshK
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Re: May 7, 2012, Mt Rainier, Muir Snowfield, Sick Corn
« Reply #2 on: 05/08/12, 04:01 PM »

Ok, so who do I have to file paperwork with to get the name changed to "Andalkar Snowfield? ;-) Who is that Muir guy anyway?
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GregSimon
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Re: May 7, 2012, Mt Rainier, Muir Snowfield, Sick Corn
« Reply #3 on: 05/09/12, 07:49 AM »

Thanks for the (as usual) informative and inspiring report.  Does it still look skiable to the Nisqually bridge?
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teledavid
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Re: May 7, 2012, Mt Rainier, Muir Snowfield, Sick Corn
« Reply #4 on: 05/09/12, 08:58 AM »

Amar,

Great to read one of your post again, I haven't seen one in a while.  Thanks for the thorough report!

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Amar Andalkar
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Re: May 7, 2012, Mt Rainier, Muir Snowfield, Sick Corn
« Reply #5 on: 05/09/12, 10:06 AM »

Thanks for the (as usual) informative and inspiring report.  Does it still look skiable to the Nisqually bridge?

Yes, it's still skiable, here's a view looking up from the bridge:



As of a couple weeks ago, the route on the left of the photo (skier's right) had already melted out at one spot where the river comes close to its right bank, so the preferred route now is to stay on skier's left of the river the whole way.

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Oyvind_Henningsen
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Re: May 7, 2012, Mt Rainier, Muir Snowfield, Sick Corn
« Reply #6 on: 05/09/12, 01:41 PM »

Good for you for getting out Amar, hope you feel better.  The picture on where to ski is cool.  Hope to be there in a couple of weeks ;-)
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Lytt til erfarne fjellfolk!
gregL
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Re: May 7, 2012, Mt Rainier, Muir Snowfield, Sick Corn
« Reply #7 on: 05/09/12, 08:13 PM »

Does it still look skiable to the Nisqually bridge?

On Sunday it skied really really well up to the point Amar mentions (about 600 yds from the bridge), after which there is a bit of mud scrambling and rotten snow postholing to the road.
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