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| |-+  January 2017 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  January 6-8, 2017, Mt. Rainier, Paradise environs
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Author Topic: January 6-8, 2017, Mt. Rainier, Paradise environs  (Read 1315 times)

Posts: 46

January 6-8, 2017, Mt. Rainier, Paradise environs
« on: 01/09/17, 03:21 PM »

Bluebird skies and temps in the teens as we set out to tour near tree line east of Paradise on Friday. The sun made the cold quite tolerable, and the clear views all the way to Helens were fantastic. Wish I could say the same about the skiing.

With the winds making the full tour of the compass dial last week, wind slabs and redistribution were everywhere. There was no rhyme or reason to why a given spot would be breakable crust, firm slab, soft powder, or all three in a short space. Literally from one turn to the next we didn’t know what to expect the surface to be.

Observations pointed to overall good stability, but column tests on a south aspect showed sensitivity around 35 cm, proving once again that no good news ever comes from a pit. We headed off that slope and onto 25 degree southwest aspects. On the way we passed recent avy debris 400 ft below a 6200 ft south facing cliff with 1-2 meter crowns between rocks. Snow on W aspects skied a little better, still variable and challenging. Overall a great day, very photogenic. Saturday was a whole ‘nother ballgame.

An incoming storm Friday night brought back serious winds out of the E and NE, which is odd for there but wind directions had been weird all week. We sought refuge on easy W aspects, found some reward for braving the wind chill, but the wind had not dropped as many pillows of soft powder there as we hoped. Lots of moss muppets, though. The other patrol team visited Reflection Lakes and reported painful east winds in that basin, but calm in the trees. It began to snow late in the day.

Sunday we fled the windy alpine and skied deep timber all day. We encountered 65 other people with the same idea. Falling snow and warming would suggest instability, although 4 column tests gave no result whatsoever. (Detailed obs on NWAC.)

Weather forecasts were as variable as the snow, but Michael Fagin (Washington Online Weather) hit the forecast exactly for all three days.

Leaders, please remember that the winter combined group size limit in Mt. Rainier National Park is 12, except right at Paradise.


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