Monday, October 22, 2007

Snow time...

Quite a bit of snow has fallen over the past week leaving plenty at Paradise (a solid 2 feet). As you can see in this John Piastuck image, skiers and boarders (32 ants by my count) are "chomping at the bit" to climb Panorama Point for early season turns... This is looking to be a very promising ski season folks. The question is, will it hold; will it continue?

The Washington State Climatologists have something to say about our weather. They just published an
interesting report about our 2007 summer temperatures. It points to data that says we're still experiencing a warmer than normal trend (0.01 to be exact for Aug). I also found that they are willing to post an "Outlook" for the fall and winter. Check it out, but don't look for any clarity as it doesn't really predict anything substantial or exciting: "The Climate Prediction Center's 3-month outlook for November-December-January is for equal chances of above, below, or normal temperatures for Washington..."

Whatever the case, we're off to good start and the ants on Pan Point are seemingly stoked. With them are a few climbers who are hoping to find the summit this week. Perhaps they'll successfully weave through the upper mountain crevasses and visit Columbia Crest during this weather window.

If you are planning to climb this fall, here are few safety, registration and camping tips:
  • Expect crevasses: Though it's been snowing quite a bit this Sept/Oct, be prepared for lightly covered crevasses on the mountain.
  • Avalanche: Yes, slides have killed climbers in the fall on Mount Rainier and it could easily happen again. It doesn't take much to knock a team into a terrain trap (crevasse, cliff, hole) or bury someone. This is especially the case if the wind is blowing which could contribute to large snow deposits.
  • Poor weather: Ok, this is a constant on Rainier, but fall is definitely the time when storms linger longer than expected and climbers regret their "fast and light" plans. Be prepared to sit out inclement weather and expect heavy wet snow.
You can register in Longmire at the museum, or self register (i.e. honor system) at Paradise on the front porch of the Jackson Visitor Center. Most teams will select the Camp Muir Public Shelter for high camp accommodations. Over the past few years, that hut has been very accessible... But you should still bring a shovel to dig out the door and always clean up after you leave. On nice/busy weekends, bring your ear plugs (snoring, running stoves, chatter) and expect to breath stove exhaust in the hut.