Friday, January 30, 2009

Paradise Road Damaged!

Updated Winter Access to Paradise

The washout approximately 6 miles above Longmire at mile 12.4 on the road to Paradise (just above the Nisqually Bridge) has been rated to be acceptable for 1-way traffic by the Federal Highways Administration inspectors.

Mount Rainier National Park has arranged for weekend and holiday access to Paradise. There will be one-way-at-a-time traffic operation with a flagger at milepost 11.3 (Glacier Bridge chain-up area) and another flagger up above at milepost 13.3 (Canyon Rim Overlook). Expect about a 5 to 10-minute wait for cars to pass each way before the opposite direction traffic is allowed.

Overnight use, climbing, and backcountry camping are allowed, but your trip itineraries need to be limited to these periods that the road is open to the public (weekend and holiday periods).

Updated: January 31st, 2009 The NPS is trying remain flexible about road closures during the mid-week. If the weather forecast for the day looks good (clear and sunny, or at least no snow forecast), we are currently making a strong effort for the road to be opened to the public. This means that if the forecast looks good, you should be able to plan a climb!

On Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays the road will close each evening at 5:30 p.m. No traffic is allowed down or up the road after the road is closed. The road crew typically is able to re-open the road sometime between 7:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. each day, depending on the amount of new snow received during the night.

Listed below are good guidelines to follow regarding estimating when the road may open. Please bear in mind that these estimated times are by no means a promise, so your patience is requested. Many variables exist that determine when the road is ready to open. Snow density affects plowing operation, with lighter snow being easier to move. Wind is another factor, since drifts and wind-packed snow take longer to remove. A large front-end loader or extended times with a blower are often needed to remove avalanche debris. How many plow drivers are on duty is a yet another factor. But generally, at Paradise:

0-3 inches of new snow: 7:00 - 8:00 a.m. opening
3-6 inches of new snow: 8:00 - 10:00 a.m. opening
6-10 inches of new snow: 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. opening (avalanche danger may be an issue with this much new snow)
10-15 inches of new snow: 11:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m. opening (avalanche danger may prohibit the road from opening at all)!
15 inches or more: The road may remain closed either due to snow removal problems or due to avalanche danger!

It is very important for visitors to realize that during or for an unspecified time after heavy snow periods, the road may not open at all. Be flexible! To make the best use of time at Rainier during these periods plan an alternate trip itinerary, perhaps to a backcountry destination such as Eagle Peak, Indian Henry’s, or even up into Van Trump Park and onto the upper mountain via the Kautz Glacier Route!

Don't forget to pick up a climbing or backcountry permit and a climbing pass at the Longmire Museum, open 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.

Have fun, stay out of avalanches, and be safe!