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Author Topic: May 1, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enactment  (Read 11148 times)
Lowell_Skoog
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May 1, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enactment
« on: 04/25/05, 05:29 AM »

For a previous discussion on this topic, see the thread:

http://www.turns-all-year.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=ha3;action=display;num=1114061205

Several people expressed interest in re-enacting the "geschmozzel" (mass start) version of the Silver Skis race from Camp Muir to Paradise on Mt Rainier. This famous race was run ten times between 1934 and 1948, but the mass start was used only once. I'd like to run it again (but with less than 60 people  Wink ) to experience what it was like. I hope to weave this experience into the book that I'm writing about Washington ski history.

The snowpack is melting fast this spring, so I think the sooner we do it, the better. I'd like to shoot for this Saturday, April 30. If the weather on Saturday looks bad, and Sunday looks better, we might shift the day to Sunday, May 1. (That's what they did in the old days.)

Everybody is welcome. This is going to be a very informal event. No prizes, no official results, no ski patrol. This is not an organized or guided trip. It is merely an invitation to like-minded backcountry skiers to congregate at Camp Muir on a particular day, and start down at the same time. You need to be responsible for yourself, like any private trip to Camp Muir. (If somebody would like to volunteer to sweep the course afterwards, I could lend you a Talkabout radio.)

As discussed below, the Longmire gate should be open before 9 am. If participants leave Paradise at 9 am and take four hours to climb to Muir, we could start down around 1 pm. We should shoot for that. (Plan to arrive earlier if you need more time to reach Muir.) Since people will be arriving at different times, I think it will be best to simply meet at Muir at the appointed time, then go. It would be fun to meet somewhere afterward for burgers or something.

If you're interested, reply in this thread. Feel free to make suggestions on logistics. I plan to post a final message this Friday, April 29, confirming the date and starting time.
« Last Edit: 04/30/05, 11:17 AM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
Amar Andalkar
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Re: April 30, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enact
« Reply #1 on: 04/25/05, 07:17 AM »

Quote
Since the official opening time of the Longmire gate is 9 am, and since people vary in speed climbing to Camp Muir, I think we'll need to start down from Muir in mid-afternoon, say 2 pm to 3 pm.


This Saturday 4/23, the gate was open by 8 AM, perhaps earlier. The MRNP phone message as of 6:30 AM today says the road to Paradise is open with no restrictions, so it appears that the gate opens before that time each day.

An earlier starting time might result in better (firmer) racing conditions, although if the forecast 6500 ft FL occurs then mid-afternoon should be fine. I'll probably be there unless I'm unexpectedly out of town by then.

Quote
MOUNT RAINIER RECREATIONAL FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
530 AM PDT MON APR 25 2005
       
.SYNOPSIS...HIGH PRESSURE ALOFT WILL PREVAIL OVER THE AREA TODAY...
ALTHOUGH THERE WILL BE A CHANCE OF SHOWERS THIS AFTERNOON. THE HIGH
PRESSURE ALOFT WILL BEGIN SHIFTING OFFSHORE ON TUESDAY...ALLOWING
THE AIR MASS TO DESTABILIZE SUFFICIENTLY TUESDAY AFTERNOON FOR A
CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS. DRY WEATHER WILL THEN PREVAIL THE SECOND
HALF OF THE WEEK...AND DAYTIME TEMPERATURES WILL COOL TO NEAR NORMAL.

[... deleted ...]

.EXTENDED FORECAST...
.WEDNESDAY NIGHT THROUGH FRIDAY NIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING
LEVEL 7000 FEET.
.SATURDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL 6500
FEET.
.SUNDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL 6500 FEET.

« Last Edit: 04/25/05, 07:46 AM by andalkar » Logged

sean
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Re: April 30, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enact
« Reply #2 on: 04/25/05, 09:16 AM »

If snowboarders are allowed for the race count me in. If not, count me in to watch the sight of dozens of skiers heading down the snowfield at once.

Sean
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: April 30, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enact
« Reply #3 on: 04/25/05, 11:18 AM »

Snowboarders are welcome. This is not a formally organized race, so there are no rules or restrictions. There won't be any control gates either. You can pick whatever route down you want.

I agree that an earlier start would be better. Between 12 pm and 1 pm would probably be best. I think we should just plan on a 1 pm start. Allowing four hours to climb to Muir, that means people would need to leave Paradise by 9 am. (You're pace may vary.) I've modified my initial post (above) with that information.
« Last Edit: 04/25/05, 11:25 AM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
Dave_R
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Re: April 30, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enact
« Reply #4 on: 04/26/05, 04:13 AM »

Make sure you get one of the usual suspects to post some good photos (maybe link to a video?) for those of us who can't make it.  I hadn't expressed interest since it was unlikely that you'd select the one or two free weekend days I've got in the next month.  I was right.  Have fun, maybe it can turn into an annual tradition.

-Dave R
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jt
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Re: April 30, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enact
« Reply #5 on: 04/26/05, 05:29 AM »

I like the idea of it becoming an annual tradition. I have to pass this weekend since I have kid duty while my wife is out of town. My 7-year old could probably make the trip and the ski down, but my 3-year old could not. It would be cool to see traditions like this start up again. It seems that many a weekend there are enough of us up on Rainier anyway that it shouldn't be too hard to make happen. I am looking forward to hearing how it all goes off.
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jt
Jeff Huber
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Re: April 30, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enact
« Reply #6 on: 04/26/05, 06:02 AM »

Am I the only one that wonders about the saftey (and sanity) of 20+ skiers starting at the exact same time skiing as fast as possible down the Muir snowfield -- probably straight-lining most of it -- on backcountry equipment?

If the NPS sees this . . . I predict they will throw a fit! ;-)
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: April 30, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enact
« Reply #7 on: 04/26/05, 07:24 AM »

Quote
Am I the only one that wonders about the saftey (and sanity) of 20+ skiers starting at the exact same time skiing as fast as possible down the Muir snowfield -- probably straight-lining most of it -- on backcountry equipment?


Sounds like you've got a good handle on the concept.  Wink

No, you're not the only one!

Maybe it's a good thing I don't have any ski legs this year (not enough skiing). I'll have to go slow...
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jt
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Re: April 30, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enact
« Reply #8 on: 04/26/05, 07:45 AM »

Quote
If the NPS sees this . . . I predict they will throw a fit! ;-)


That's why it's best to keep it loosely organized and adopt the "be as competive (or not) as you feel" attitude. If it gets too serious and organized they'd probably force some kind of permit, liability insurance, and all that crap.

At least the route to Muir isn't paved and Winnebago accessible. I did RAMROD many years ago when it was ridden on a Saturday before complaints from drivers in the park got loud enough to "force" the ride to limit numbers and happen midweek.

Watch out for that Donnelly if he shows up  Wink.

I remember last year on an outing with him where he blasted off of Pan Point, I think turning maybe once or twice. Three skiers booting their way up, asked who the crazy guy is and if he always skis that way as I passed at a more leisurely pace. His GPS clocked him at over 50mph. This wasn't fast enough for him so he booted up a chute and tore down it, hitting 57mph for his top speed. Might surprise a few gaping tourists on the last stretch into Paradise. I've always loved the "backpacker blowby" concept while trail running, but this could elevate it to a whole new level! Grin
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: April 30, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enact
« Reply #9 on: 04/26/05, 04:54 PM »

Here's how Wolf Bauer described the 1934 Silver Skis race in his article, "Telemarks, Sitzmarks, and Other Early Impressions," in the 1963 Mountaineer Annual. I believe Wolf is the highest-placing finisher of that race who is still around, at age 93. (He finished fifth.) I've written a profile of him which will appear in the 2005 Northwest Mountaineering Journal.

Quote
The first [Silver Skis race] was, by far, also the most dramatic and most publicized of all.  We trained long and hard for this toughest course on the continent.  Spectators had a break, as telephone wires were laid to connect strategic relay and control points to a public address system that kept both onlookers and contestants informed of the progress and positions along the lower half of the course.  It was a running battle of man against man, wax against snow, and fatigue against time.  

Many varying accounts have appeared of this spectacular, which saw the simultaneous swoop of sixty-six tense racers start something that only two-thirds could finish four miles away, five thousand feet lower, and ten to thirty minutes later.  The rest, some severely injured and others physically and mentally beaten, returned to Paradise with hurt pride and some justified misgivings for having entered this stampede in the first place. In any event, it was this race, more than any other factor, which decided the issue and changed man-to-man downhill racing to the more prudent interval-race against the clock.  From the competitor and spectator standpoint, however, much of the glamor of this type competition has disappeared, as might be expected were one to contemplate the racing of horses, autos, crews, or boats against time only.  Having raced in several of the Silver Skis, I have always felt that the basic appeal of the race against opponents might have been retrieved with the incorporation of certain safety features such as better speed control, route layout, wider and more frequent gates, and fewer contestants through qualifying heats against the clock.  

Be that as it may, we all started to push off, that historic day, onto the convex-sloping roof below Muir, being rapidly pulled as in a vortex toward the first hidden gate near Anvil Rock still a half mile away.  Overly-waxed skis with shellacked base coat prepared for the slower snows of lower elevations began to accelerate us with deceptive smoothness.  Everyone was bent to escape the inevitable traffic jam of the other sixty-five runners funneling and crowding in from the original spread-out starting line.  In these first seconds there was little chance or desire to check speed until the ranks would thin out on each side.  I had gone into Spartan training doing deep knee-bends during weeks of preparation in order to prevent the cramping effects of a deep crouch position against expected head winds.  While this paid off in the later stages, the extra speed cost me both poles, goggles, and a broken ski still hanging precariously together with a steel-edge fastening--result of a somersault at near sixty miles per hour.  I was leading at the time, but my spot of reckoning also became the Waterloo for many behind me, in some instances with serious consequences.  Most of us had waited too long to check speed and change course because of the traffic on all sides.  When checking became imperative, the smooth snow surface suddenly changed to shingled windrows and waves, bringing about a fearsome explosion of cartwheeling humanity.  It was not until the race was over that I learned how others behind me had spilled at the same time and place.  Somewhat dazed I picked myself up, deciding not to waste time looking for my poles and goggles, and immediately got under way again.  My wax was still working well enough to keep me moving rapidly past Anvil Rock, as long as I kept my weight off the broken ski.  This was a lucky break in negotiating the intermediate gradient in midcourse without occasional assist from the poles.  I well remember my head clearing and my confidence returning when I heard the P.A. system at McClure's Rock control point announce that I had moved into fourth position.  With the weakened ski I could not afford a high-speed descent of the face of Panoram, and my chances of catching up began to fade.  One satisfying experience still was to come my way, nevertheless.  Amid encouraging cheers from loyal rooters for whom I meant to uphold the Mountaineers' honor, I somehow found the audacity to trot sneakily but lamely around an unsuspecting cross-country champion in the sticky flat below Panoram.  Squatting immediately in the main fast track to Paradise Lodge (later finishes were in Edith Creek Basin), I challenged each subsequent passing attempt from behind to the bitter finish.  Don Fraser of Seattle Ski Club, who was later to make the Olympic ski team, won the race.  No finer competitor could have led the parade.
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JibberD
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Re: April 30, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enact
« Reply #10 on: 04/27/05, 04:37 PM »

Any ideas on how early the Longmire gate might open?

I would like to get a huge lead on the thoroughbreds, if possible.
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-Doug O
Lowell_Skoog
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Re: April 30, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enact
« Reply #11 on: 04/28/05, 03:46 AM »

Quote
Any ideas on how early the Longmire gate might open?


Amar's previous message in this thread said:

Quote
This Saturday 4/23, the gate was open by 8 AM, perhaps earlier. The MRNP phone message as of 6:30 AM today says the road to Paradise is open with no restrictions, so it appears that the gate opens before that time each day.
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gethin
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Re: April 30, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enact
« Reply #12 on: 04/28/05, 11:17 AM »

This sounds like a laugh! Would love to take part. If anyone could give me a lift from seattle to the start point either fri night or sat morning I would be very gratefull (and would of course contribute to the gas fund!) Contact me on gethinhowells@yahoo.co.uk if you can help me out. Thanks
« Last Edit: 04/28/05, 11:20 AM by gethin » Logged
Amar Andalkar
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Re: April 30, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enact
« Reply #13 on: 04/28/05, 12:05 PM »

Lowell, the weather forecasts have gone steadily downhill for Saturday, are you still planning to do it that day? I caught a bad cold a couple of days ago, so I might not be able to make it this weekend anyway (and if I did I certainly won't be moving fast either uphill or down feeling like this).

The QPF is now predicting about 0.5" of water on Saturday, but Sunday looks dry in the current model run. But "mostly cloudy" isn't great either.

Am I the only one that wonders about the safety (and sanity) of 20+ skiers starting at the exact same time skiing as fast as possible down the Muir snowfield -- probably straight-lining most of it -- in a whiteout?

Quote
MOUNT RAINIER RECREATIONAL FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
530 PM PDT THU APR 28 2005
       
.SYNOPSIS...WEAK WEST TO NORTHWEST FLOW ALOFT AND AN UNSTABLE AIR
MASS WILL PRODUCE PARTLY TO MOSTLY CLOUDY SKIES AND A CHANCE OF
SHOWERS TONIGHT THROUGH SATURDAY. SHOWERS WILL DECREASE SATURDAY
NIGHT AND SUNDAY AS DRIER AIR ALOFT MOVES IN FROM THE WEST. AN UPPER
LEVEL RIDGE WILL BUILD OFFSHORE EARLY NEXT WEEK ALLOWING DRY WEATHER
TO CONTINUE. LOW LEVEL ONSHORE FLOW WILL INCREASE EARLY NEXT WEEK.

&&

.THURSDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SHOWERS. CHANCE OF
EVENING THUNDERSTORMS. SNOW LEVEL 5000 FEET.
.FRIDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 5500 FEET.
.FRIDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 5500 FEET.
.SATURDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 5500 FEET.
.SATURDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 6000 FEET.
.SUNDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 6000 FEET.

. . .

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andyski
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Re: April 30, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enact
« Reply #14 on: 04/28/05, 01:30 PM »

Amar, the answer to your last question is 'no.'
On the other hand, would another week of warm weather decrease the options for continuous skiing from Muir? (non-Paradise Glacier options, that is). Already this past week, staying above Pebble Creek to the east was out, and Pebble Creek itself was melted out. Then again, I'm a bit of a gaper and perhaps have been taking stupid routes lately. Cheesy Race or not, I'll be there Sat.
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philfort
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Re: April 30, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enact
« Reply #15 on: 04/28/05, 02:14 PM »

Maybe some weather geek can find out if "mostly cloudy" this weekend means mostly cloudy and socked in, or mostly cloudy high level clouds with good visiblity...
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: April 30, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enact
« Reply #16 on: 04/28/05, 04:17 PM »

Quote
Lowell, the weather forecasts have gone steadily downhill for Saturday, are you still planning to do it that day?


Given the current forecast, I think we should switch to Sunday. That's supposed to be the better day. To avoid last-minute thrashing, I'm going to stick with that decision even if the forecast flip-flops.

So, Sunday it is. We'll shoot for skiing down from Camp Muir at 1 pm.

If anybody would like to carpool, I'm planning to stop at the Renton Park & Ride off I-405 (near S. Grady Way) at 6:15 am. I'll leave the Park & Ride at 6:30 am and drive to Paradise, hoping to arrive around 8:30 am. I'd like to get to Paradise a little early to have a better chance of meeting people. I plan to start up for Camp Muir between 9 and 10 am. If anybody would like to carpool, meet at the Renton Park & Ride between 6:15 and 6:30 am and we'll shuffle cars on the spot. (I'll be driving a green Subaru Outback and carrying a big golf umbrella.)

I'm crossing my fingers on Sunday's weather, but we'll get what we get. I think the snow's going to melt fast at Paradise this spring, so I'm going to give the re-enactment just one shot this year.
« Last Edit: 04/28/05, 04:20 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
Lowell_Skoog
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Re: May 1, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enactmen
« Reply #17 on: 04/30/05, 11:21 AM »

The Sunday forecast is calling for partly cloudy at Rainier and the Paradise web camera is showing cloud breaks and visibility to Camp Muir this afternoon. Seems like conditions could be okay tomorrow. I hope to see a few TAY'ers up there.

Quote
"If you haven't found it out, skiing is on the Northwest sports map permanently and definitely. And the Silver Skis Championship set for Sunday is going to be something to look at, if you care for thrills." --Royal Brougham, The Seattle P-I, Sunday April 22, 1934
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andyski
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Re: May 1, 2005, Paradise, Silver Skis re-enactmen
« Reply #18 on: 04/30/05, 05:26 PM »

The visibilty to Muir (or from my standpoint, to Paradise) didn't happen until about 2:30p. Before that was low clouds, low vis., etc. Broke out about 9,200 ft., then cleared almost completely by my 3p. descent. Skiing was outstanding in non-powder, dense, mostly untracked 'new' snow, despite being extremely warm above 8,500 feet. No corn, not powder, but uniform and fun. Only the slightest hint of crust, unnoticeable on the descent. Hopefully the afternoon sun won't change that. Hardly anyone there. Easiest approach was big, long, fast turns. Grin Fresh wax helped. Good luck tomorrow while I'm at work! Angry
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