Let it Snow, Let it Snow

There is no doubt that it has been a "December to remember" in the Cascades. The snow has steadily stacked up in Paradise, with totals approaching 100". All of this snow has brought out the skiers and boarders, snowshoers and sledders, and folks who just want to play in the snow.

With the holidays fast approaching, and schools on winter break there are a few things to keep in mind as you head up to the park for a winter outing. Over the past several weeks there have been several incidents of folks venturing into the backcountry or even as high as Camp Muir without the necessary equipment. In both cases, the parties ended up spending an unplanned night in the public shelter. Thankfully these situations ended well for all parties involved. But it is a good reminder that when you are travelling in the backcountry to be prepared for all weather conditions. The winter weather on Mount Rainier can be far more extreme and fickle than summer weather patterns. The park's website contains a useful page regarding winter preparedness. One item to never leave the parking lot without in the winter is a shovel. A tool as simple as a shovel can be life saving. Also, if you are planning an overnight in the Paradise area, or even Camp Muir, please remember that a permit is still required. These can be obtained at the Jackson Visitor Center (Link contains operating hours), as well as via self registration, which is located in the tunnel of the Old Ranger Station in Paradise.

For those skiers and snowboarders out there planning a trip to Mount Rainier, the skiing has been great over the past couple of weeks. And while the snow has been stacking up, and our coverage is increasing, remember that it is still early in the season and low snow hazards do still exist. Some streams or trees may not be fully covered just yet, so please use caution when crossing areas where streams may be below. As far as avalanche conditions, while skiing or snowshoeing in the backcountry, remember to check the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center 's avalanche and weather forecast prior to heading up to the park. You will also want to make sure everyone in your group has a shovel, beacon and a probe, and the knowledge of how to use them.

From the rangers up here at Mount Rainier, we hope to see you all around the holidays, and we hope you have a great holiday season! Bring your skis, snowboard, or snowshoes on up and come enjoy the beautiful winter season at Mount Rainier.

-Climbing Rangers

Holidays. Time for Family and Ski Partners.

The winter weather has settled into Mount Rainier and the forecast is easy on the eyes for snow play enthusiasts.  Over Thanksgiving Weekend the park accumulated enough snow to put us over the three foot mark at Paradise.  The road from Longmire to Paradise is now closing every night and reopening in the morning once the plows remove the drifts (usually around 9:00 am).  Please try and park in-line with other vehicles at Paradise to maximize the small parking lot (read: don't park your car askew against a snow bank away from others because it looks cool).  Climbers can still self-register at Paradise at the kiosk in the small A-frame building right next to the parking lot.  The kiosk is on the covered patio.  All overnight users must get a permit.  We recommend that all visitors wishing to stay overnight register at the Longmire Museum (open everyday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm).  

Three feet of snow isn't enough to fully cover and blanket all of the hazards in Paradise.  Watch out for rocks, creeks, and downed logs.  There are no 'manicured' runs for skiers and snowboarders and staying in control, making conservative risk-decisions, and having a self-rescue plan is mandatory.  Even the best riders fall and cartwheel down slopes injuring themselves; here at Mount Rainier there's no ski patrol standing by.  It can be hours and even days before help can arrive.  Be prepared!  And lastly, on a safety note, please venture out with a partner.  Tree wells are just as dangerous as avalanches to backcountry users and having a partner can help mitigate both of those hazards.  Get online and find a buddy, meet up with another group your speed in the parking lot, or wait till your friend's schedule lines up with yours, but definitely travel with a partner.  

Since winter has kicked into gear, so have our local Mountain Rescue Association Members.  Over the holiday weekend we had volunteers stay in Longmire and do some patrols on skis around Paradise.  Big shout out to the MRA folks who've been coming out and helping up at the park.  

Most of the seasonal road closures have occurred and only the typical winter roads are still open.  See the park's Roads and Access page for more info.  

Come on up and see Mount Rainier with a winter coat and have a happy holiday season!