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Author Topic: October 27, 2012 Mt. Rainier firehose  (Read 2291 times)
Jonn-E
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Posts: 337


October 27, 2012 Mt. Rainier firehose
« on: 10/28/12, 04:10 PM »

So we got to the park at 9:30 to gates closed.  Snow level was expected to be 6k, but snow was down to 4k, catching the plow crew off guard.  Employee told me the hadn't staged due to forecast and thus weren't ready early in the morning.  Which as you'll see soon was a real shame. After scraping a few inches off the road it opened at 11:30.

Got to Paradise expecting it to snow given the fact that it had been snowing just that night down to 4k and expected, at worst, to hit snow at 6k.  It was raining pretty damn good at the parking lot.  Regardless of the gloom stoke was high for us and all others skinning up, creating a feedback loop. And thus the bizarre spectacle of a bunch of people skiing in the rain and apparently enjoying themselves.  Others must think us odd.

The rain never stopped, it only got worse the higher we went.  And then the wind, which only got worse the higher we went.  Visibility only got worse the higher we went.

As I had wands, radios, and GPS, we boldly pushed on into the low viz.  Except until we realized this was stupid, all other groups had turned around, and it was only going to get much worse.  Our turn around was about 7100' up on Panorama.  If anyone got higher than that later (there were a bunch behind us), we'd be interested in hearing about it.  At 7100' the winds were about 30mph on the ridgeline, with torrential rain at times.  The question on everyone's mind was "where the hell is the snow?!?"  The data below shows what happened, and why turning around was a good idea.

    Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center
    Paradise, Mt Rainier National Park, Washington

     MM/DD  Hour  Temp    RH  Wind  Wind  Wind  Hour Total 24 Hr Total Solar
             PST     F     %   Avg   Max   Dir Prec. Prec.  Snow  Snow  W/m2
                 5400' 5400' 5380' 5380' 5380' 5400' 5400' 5400' 5400' 5400'
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
     10 27  1700    40   100     8    12   268   .24  1.77     2    15     3
     10 27  1600    39   100     9    14   267   .29  1.53    32    16     6
     10 27  1500    38   100     6    11   267   .19  1.24    33    17    17
     10 27  1400    37    99     6    13   266   .15  1.05    32    18    26
     10 27  1300    36    99     9    16   283   .21    .9    32    18    67
     10 27  1200    35   100     6    12   288    .2   .69    33    19    52
     10 27  1100    33   100     6    10   282   .17   .49    32    19    65
     10 27  1000    32   100     5     9   291    .1   .32     2    19    59
     10 27   900    32   100     5     7   283   .06   .22     2    17    47
     10 27   800    32   100     7    10   284   .05   .16     1   300    10
     10 27   700    31   100     8    16   275   .07   .11     6    15     0

We left the parking lot at 12:00.  We were at 7100 around 13:40 maybe.  As you can see we were chasing a rapidly ascending snowline uphill the whole time, and it only got worse after we bailed.  A look at Muir telemetry shows it may have rained up there later in the evening, so no amount of climbing was going to find us our promised snow.  I can't find wind data for Muir because it appears the anenometer broke during a big storm on the 10/18.



I can't capture a video and the UW site is having difficulty rendering, but this image clearly shows that while everyone else is enjoying a break, topographic effect is causing Rainier to get pounded, as shown by the dot of red reflectivity.

Also the solar insolation never made it above 100, which I've never seen before.  If they had opened the gate at 9:00 it may have been snowing on us with rain chasing us uphill.  My goggles broke and my sunglasses were worthless, so I ended up skiing half blind through mashed potatoes and rocks.  Still, they were turns in October and I caught some air so it beat staying at home.  Thanks to the random dude who handed me a very good beer at the transition in the pounding rain, that was a boss move.

Below, the only pics I bothered to take.  Note the waterlogged sensor.





« Last Edit: 10/28/12, 04:13 PM by Jonn-E » Logged
freeskier
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Posts: 72


Re: October 27, 2012 Mt. Rainier firehose
« Reply #1 on: 10/28/12, 11:14 PM »

Eerily similar to our experience the day prior. Glad we went......but glad we turned around!
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JWBerrens
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Posts: 11


Re: October 27, 2012 Mt. Rainier firehose
« Reply #2 on: 10/29/12, 09:50 AM »

The people that don't turn around sometimes don't come back.
I lived at Paradise all winter one time and the Boeing Ski Club had
an outing in similar conditions. Most of them turned around but one guy.
He kept going and was last seen above Pebble Creek. He is still up there.
They never found him.
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ErikT
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Posts: 199


WWW
Re: October 27, 2012 Mt. Rainier firehose
« Reply #3 on: 10/29/12, 10:25 AM »

Nice meeting you guys up there - we were the group of three that somehow persuaded ourselves and I think you guys that we should keep going for that extra 15 minutes... because there was certainly snow up there, right?? Once I got home and saw that the high at Muir was 32, I was glad we turned around... with that temp up at 10k, I figure the snow couldn't have gotten much below 9000, if it got that far down...
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Sinorm
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Posts: 7


Re: October 27, 2012 Mt. Rainier firehose
« Reply #4 on: 10/29/12, 01:08 PM »

Our group turned around at ~6800 ft. At that point not only were conditions nasty (and only looking worse higher up) but there was also a steep rocky slope that I really didn't feel like skiing down. While the coverage was great lower on the mountain, higher up the rocky slopes combined with the wind exposure lead to some sketchy skiing.
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Andrew Carey
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Posts: 1405


Re: October 27, 2012 Mt. Rainier firehose
« Reply #5 on: 10/29/12, 01:50 PM »

Interesting weather.  Last week the flow in the Nisqually River was near an all-time 69-year flow (for this 2-week period) and yesterday and today the river hit all-time high flows, thanks to (1) 8-9 inches of precip a week ago that nearly saturated the soil and actually raised the water table but had no appreciable effect on river flow and then (2) 2 nights of 3+ inches of rain on 16 inches of snow at Paradise.  Logs come down river.
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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
Jonn-E
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Posts: 337


Re: October 27, 2012 Mt. Rainier firehose
« Reply #6 on: 10/30/12, 04:13 PM »

Yeah it was survival skiing up higher, skiing back down that blasted cliff trail was also exciting. 
I was reading Mike Gauthier's guidebook last night, and at while discussing winter climbing he noted: (paraphrased) "the trifecta of rain, wind, and snow can be severely demoralizing....if it's raining in the parking lot, don't start a big trip as you'll never stay dry and never dry out."

If a guy who's summited over 250 times by every route imaginable says this it make me feel a bit better.


Andrew Carey: if you look at the 10-day it rained 3" at Paradise that day and has basically continued at about the same until the present.

ErikT: I'm still looking for that 21st amendment beer in stores  Smiley
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