Sunday, January 21, 2007

More press, access and public events

Over in the Seattle P.I., there was a discussion about fast and light climbing techniques... The P.I. also commented on what it's like in the park now that the roads are closed. When you read that article, consider this statement: "it will be April before there is a road to Paradise." But more importantly, everyone seems to have picked up on the News Tribune report that most of Mt. Rainier's road repairs will be funded. As promised, Congressman Norm Dicks pulled through rather quickly by locating funds from the Dept. of Transportation and the Dept. of the Interior. Keep in mind, this money will largely go to road and facility repairs, not necessarily trail systems!

Access to the mountain is still quite challenging, unless you really like hard approaches. For example, getting to the Westside Road is difficult because the Nisqually to Longmire road is only open to the public (sorry no vehicles) on Sundays from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. What this means is either you have to complete your trip in under 7 hours, or take 7 days! And with that said, the road above Longmire is totally closed to any sort of pedestrian traffic. Even if you made it to Longmire in under 7 hours, you still can't hike, climb, ski, board, walk, thumb, or skip along the road to Paradise.

If for some reason you'd like to attempt Liberty Ridge this winter, give your party at least one extra day (really two) to navigate the Carbon River Road and Wonderland trail up to Mystic Pass. There are a number of major washouts, destroyed sections of trail, and blow downs to manage. If you're trying to get to White River Campground (Emmons Route) via HWY 410 and the White River road, things are looking pretty normal for winter access. That is, plan for an additional 11 miles of road each way because the gate is locked at the park boundary. For more information about the roads and access in Mount Rainier National Park, check out Mount Rainier Access and Roads.

I gave a program on the flood and recovery efforts last Friday in Tacoma at the Mountaineers Clubhouse. There was a packed house of Mount Rainier enthusiasts. What a great audience! It's always encouraging to see so many people interested in what's happening in the park, so thank you for showing up and asking such good questions. If you live near Seattle, there will be another event this Friday, the 26th, at the Mountaineers Clubhouse, 300 3rd Ave. West.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mt Rainier Update

It's been far too long since I've posted... So what's going on at Mount Rainier? Lots of road repair, but very little climbing and hiking. I snapped this image of the Carbon River Road on Saturday, Jan. 13th. For the most part, hikers/skiers/climbers are limited to the main road corridors, unless they'd like to bushwack.

On Sunday, the 14th, I hiked to Camp Muir under calm, clear skies. Though the temps were well below freezing, I wore only light clothing the entire way. Camp Muir and most of the buildings were encrusted in ice and firm snow, however, and access to the Public Shelter was straightforward and easy.

The snow conditions (ski/board) below Pan Point were absolutely fantastic. Over the past week, there has been a prolonged cold snap throughout the Pacific NW, which left great backcountry skiing and climbing conditions around the region. Even in Seattle, there was snow on the ground for more than 72 hours. As for the route to Camp Muir, I needed snowshoes up Pan Point, but things firmed up nicely above 7K.

Speaking of snow, there is over 130 inches on the ground at Paradise (nearly 350 total inches this fall/winter). Not bad for an El Nino year (predicted by climatologists to be warmer and drier).

In the meantime, David Horsey of the Seattle PI decided that Mt. Rainier needed a cartoon.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Tacoma and Seattle public events

With so much interest in the flood and repairs, I've put together a set of stories and images from the event. Please join me for a presentation and Q and A session on Jan 19 in Tacoma, and Jan 26 in Seattle. I will show images and discuss the flood, its damage, the repairs, and the latests on projected road openings. I'll also address questions about:
  • mountain conditions
  • backpacking and hiking
  • mountain climbing
  • the new guide service operations

If you're a hiker, climber, skier, or Mount Rainier enthusiasts, there will be something in this for you.

Here are the details.

Tacoma
Where: Tacoma Mountaineers Clubhouse, 2302 N. 30th Street
When: 7:30 PM Janurary 19th

Seattle

Where: Seattle Mountaineers Clubhouse, 300 Third Ave West
When: 7:30 PM Janurary 26 th

Donations that benefit flood recovery effots around the region can be made to: the Student Conservation Association; the Washington Trails Association; and the Washington National Park Fund will be accepted. In addition, Mount Rainier: A Climbing Guide will be on sale. An equal portion of the proceeds from its sale will be donated to the above mentioned organizations.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Volunteering and the media

People have been hiking, biking and skiing into the park over the past few weeks. Last weekend, one ranger counted over one hundred souls trudging up the Nisqually road towards Paradise. Many inspected the flood damage near Sunshine Point and Kautz Creek; a few hiked up the Westside Road; some even made it to Longmire! As far as I can tell, no one made the summit.

Many of you have expressed a sincere desire to help with the flood recovery. There are a number of organizations mobilizing to accept donations and provide volunteer support. If you would like to donate money OR time, here are three possible ways:

Student Conservation Association: Through them, students pursue internships in resource management and protection. Many projects directly benefit trail restoration, campsites improvement, and bridge reconstruction. SCA has a web page dedicated to the Mount Rainier flood of 2006 here.

Washington Trails Association: This is one of the largest volunteer trail maintenance organizations in the country. As the name suggests, they specialize in making trails accessible to the public. Pretty cool eh?! If you hike in the Pacific Northwest, check them out.

Washington National Park Fund: "The Fund" is dedicated to preserving and protecting the national parks of Washington State. They directly support projects in the Olympic, North Cascade and Mount Rainier.

In other media, I found these tidbits: an editorial in the Seattle Times (scroll down) and the News Tribune poking some fun at me.