Sunday, February 03, 2008


The mountain buzz in the Pacific NW hovers around snowfall, which continues at a furious pace on Mount Rainier. In the past 7 days, over 8 feet of new snow has been measured at Paradise! Such intensity has not allowed the snowpack the time and opportunity to settle, thus the avalanche conditions remain HIGH for the next few days (NWAC Feb 3 report).

What's noteworthy (for those who count snow accumulation totals) is that this week's weather forecast calls for continued precipitation (UW) with freezing levels between 2-3K. That could mean 1-3 feet (or more?) of fluffy white stuff. Considering the weather outlook (NOAA), there is little need to discuss climbing conditions as it's unlikely someone will get to Camp Muir (or anywhere else high on the mountain) anytime soon.

One of the climbers who visited Camp Muir during the last significant break in the weather (Jan 20-25) described the upper mountain snowpack as "thin." Though the crevasses on the Cowlitz and Ingraham were largely covered, the recesses and overall new-snow-volume appeared low and windblown, especially when compared to the accumulations seen at Paradise. Perhaps the snow is being blown off? Or maybe it just isn't falling as fast at that altitude? Hopefully, we'll get another 3-5 day weather window in February for more upper mountain observations.