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| | |-+  June 18, 2006 Muir Sled Mountaineering
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Author Topic: June 18, 2006 Muir Sled Mountaineering  (Read 2189 times)

Posts: 155

June 18, 2006 Muir Sled Mountaineering
« on: 06/22/06, 10:22 PM »

Problem: Get into the mountains on Father's Day while making it fun for my youngest daughter (age 11).   Huh  My wife, Doreen, and Oldest Daughter (age 14), were an easy sell because they love the mountains and are preparing to climb Mt. Adams next month.  But Youngest Daughter has yet to appreciate the joys of mountaineering.

Solution: Introduce the concept of sled mountaineering on Rainier with visions of endless sledding down pristine snowfields.  The girls respond with great enthusiasm.  The wife responds with raised eyebrows, but maintains open mind.  So the plan is fully flushed out: Sherpa Dad will transport skis for self, skis and downhill boots for Doreen, and one sled.  Although Oldest Daughter skied the Muir snowfield last year, she selects a sled for the descent.  What it is about kids and sleds???  Doreen and oldest daughter will share responsibility for carrying second sled.

Outcome: The weather forecast is shaky, but we arrive at Paradise at 9:15 to partly sunny skies and occasional views of the mountain.  The trip up is slow with frequent stops.  When not complaining and causing Mom and Dad to draw on all their child psychology skills, youngest daughter is leading the team.  I like to think it's because she wasn't carrying anything, but it might be youth.  Somewhere around 8,000 ft we cross paths with Bronka, the 80-year old dynamo, who became the oldest woman to climb Rainier at the age of 77.  Yep, she's still going strong, showing us all that age is all in the mind.

At 8,500 ft, Dad convinces Youngest Daughter that we only need to get to 9,000 ft, where we should be able to see Camp Muir.  Of course, we have to go to 9,500 ft to see Camp Muir, at which point  Youngest Daughter refuses to go further.  Finely crafted arguments relating to the aesthetic beauty of Camp Muir (as long as you hold your nose), the opportunity to rub elbows with real climbers, rewards of chocolate, the sense of accomplishment, and other drivel, are not effective.  Youngest daughter is no longer buying it.  Oldest Daughter graciously offers to stay with Youngest Daughter while Mom and Dad continue up to Muir.  We leave them with a couple bags of M&Ms to keep them occupied and ponder the wisdom of leaving your children alone on a mountain while we slog the last 20 minutes to the top.  (OK, it's just Muir on a nice sunny day.)

Although late in the day, the ski back to the girls was corn sweetness.  For her first backcountry ski trip, Doreen did an excellent job showing how to carve the corn.  We returned to the girls to find them rested and ready for fun.  Not being able to find any discussion of sled mountaineering on TAY, Cascade Climbers, or anywhere else on the Internet, we had to set up the safety protocol on our own.  Our approach was to institute a visual belay, which included Dad at the bottom, where you had to stop, and Mom at the top, to conduct the sweep.  The sleds were tied to the girls and they were instructed to bail out of the sled if they achieved unacceptable speeds.  Needless-to-say, they had a great time.  We started out skiers right of the main boot track and descended perfect slopes to just above the Nisqually chutes.  Although it's possible that "extreme" sled mountaineers could descent the chutes "safely", I wasn't mentally ready to try it out with my daughters.  Unless someone can come up with previous "sled" descents of the chutes, it seems like there may be a first sled descent ready for the taking.  I'm sure Lowell could let us know if there's anything documented.   

Given that sleds descents tend to be fall-line oriented, there was a bit of foot traversing required to actually end up at Paradise.  And the steep section below Panorama Point was a bit dicey.  Although the girls wanted to sled it from the top, we actually required them to walk down the top half.  All in all, the sled descent was a complete success.  The Muir snowfield offers an ideal angle for safe sled descents with minimal traversing.  If anyone else has any other suggestions for good sled mountaineering trips let me know.

* Fathers_Day_2006_at_Muir-17.jpg (35.48 KB, 640x456 - viewed 643 times.)

* Fathers_Day_2006_at_Muir-19.jpg (36.18 KB, 640x457 - viewed 618 times.)

* Fathers_Day_2006_at_Muir-21.jpg (53.58 KB, 640x457 - viewed 632 times.)
« Last Edit: 06/22/06, 10:38 PM by Scottk » Logged

Posts: 191

Re: June 18, 2006 Muir Sled Mountaineering
« Reply #1 on: 06/23/06, 05:50 PM »

Very Nice Trip report!!!  What a great way to celebrate Father's day.  Thanks for the fun story and photos!

Robin (Wife of Splitter)

Posts: 233

Re: June 18, 2006 Muir Sled Mountaineering
« Reply #2 on: 06/25/06, 09:16 PM »

i agree, nice report scottk!  way to get your kids exposed to climbing/bx skiing/sledding at such young ages.   Smiley

snowshoe?? why would you??
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