Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Labor Day Weekend and Beyond...

I swear summer just arrived in the park about a month or so ago and now it already feels like fall. Sure, it isn't fall YET, as the equinox isn't until Sept. 22, but those folks who have spent a day or two up on the mountain recently may argue that fall is in full effect. A quick check of telemetry up at Camp Muir over the past few days shows below average temperatures this week. In fact, the thermometer didn't go above 50 degrees and in addition to the cold, the wind speeds have steadily averaged 30-40 mph, with spikes reaching 63, 66 and 71. Brrr...

Average high and low temperatures for the month of August at Paradise are generally 63 and and 43 degrees respectively. These days, however, visitors on Rainier are donning fleece jackets, wool hats and even a scarf or two - one doesn’t need a thermometer to guess that the temperatures have been closer to our average lows than highs. With Labor Day Weekend ahead, let’s hope this trend doesn’t extend much longer. A look at the extended forecast provides some hope, but we'll see... Perhaps next week will be different?

Speaking of next week...The public shelter up at Camp Muir will be closed from Tuesday, September 2 thru September 9th. The closure is to complete historic renovations and repairs to the buildings. Therefore, all climbers should be prepared to camp - all parties will need to bring their own shelter. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Some pros and cons to this colder and also wetter weather:

Pros: There is new snow on the mountain, so things are looking beautiful with the fresh coat of snow. The DC is still in great shape (check out the new conditions report), unlike last year (check out our
archived 2007 DC fall route reports). Remember that climbers had to veer way out onto the Emmons Shoulder and descend below the Cleaver to climb back to Ingraham Flats.

Cons: Alpine Ascent International (AAI) guides reported that it snowed over a foot on the mountain last Tuesday and Wednesday. The drifts were as high as 3 feet too! Fresh snow on the route meant that climbers will once again have to be cautious of avalanches. AAI kicked off a small slab on their descent through Cathedral Gap BUT it wasn't large enough to wipe out a person... Still, we have concern and want you to know.

So everyone, be prepared for cooler temps, rain at lower elevations and snow on the upper mountain. This shouldn't be a problem for those Pacific Northwest souls accustom to this sort of climate, but those visiting from other places (that actually still enjoy summer temps well into September) should be prepared for the wintry conditions.