Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Paradise to Muir - 2010

December 29th, 2009

I just did a nice check on Camp Muir this morning.  I left Paradise at about 9:00 a.m.  It was a little chilly.  I was really surprised how few skiers were actually out.  Kudos to the brave soul who marched up the Nisqually and skied the chute solo.  Style.

First things first.  Attention everyone.  There was a wicked layer of surface hoar that didn't get any sun action today before the clouds started rolling in.  It's going to get buried.  There are all sorts of facets in the snow in the top 20 cm.  What's worrisome is that the surface hoar is growing on a layer of sun crust.  Underneath the sun crust is another layer of facets.  Check out the snowpit profile.

Click on the image for a better, more readable size.

Expect these faceted layers to remain intact on all aspects for a while.

So the rest of the trip to Muir was outstanding.  Skiing was 7 out of 10, for the windswept snowfield, anyway.  The new snow that is forecast should make the skiing even better.

One thing I want everyone to be aware of is what we call the "Ant Trap".  Remember that sand pit that Luke got thrown into by Jabba?  Well, this is kind of like that.

It's located right next to McClure Rock.  Click that picture to the right and note the coordinates on the bottom of the photo: -121.724123   46.808050 (WGS84).  Plug that into your GPS and avoid it like the plague.

Many people have been eaten by the Ant Trap and more than a few have broken bones because of it.

Things are looking good at Camp Muir, albeit there is a lot of snow.  Remember you'll have to dig your way into the upper half of the middle toilet.  So plan on a little shoveling before you are moved to use it!

Also, remember if you're coming up to climb, to stop at the Paradise Old Station (the A-frame in the upper parking lot) and self-register.  You can also pay the 30 dollar climbing fee to the 'iron ranger' there as well.

A storm was quickly moving in, so I had to ski-dattle.  Down at Paradise, the parking lot is completely full!  Hundreds of cars and sledders.

December 23rd, 2009 - Sweet Turns at Paradise!

This is it. Finally our snowpack at Paradise is back to normal at 78 inches. The rain from the last warm spell has stopped and we have up to 18 inches of new snow that has consolidated and another 5 inches of pretty light snow on top of it.

I started up the road this morning after we opened it at around 08:00 am.  The light on the mountain was absolutely spectacular.  It was clear and there was a little bit of surface hoar when I went to the weather station this morning.  Here was the weather obs:

High: 22  Low: 16  Current: 22  Precip: .02  New: Tr Total Snow: 78" Winds: N @ 3-4.

We had our morning chores to do, cones in the parking lot, bumping sign and bamboo in the snowplay area, then folks started coming in droves.
The snowplay area is open and the runs are fast.  However, because there's relatively little snow, we can only put one run in.  The lines are a little long.  Remember to get out of the run when you've come to a stop!

About noon we headed up towards Pan Point.  What's this?  It's noon at Paradise on a sunny day and there's no tracks?  Where are all the skiers?  Gary Voigt was up making turns in upper Edith Creek below McClure.

We've been telling people for years that the right way up Pan Point is in the trees on the nose.  However, sometimes I think you're better off just going up the gully.  We should've.  The south facing part of the nose of the ridge was a little wet and heavy.  It was starting to crack as we got onto steeper ground >40 degrees.

Always evaluate your own avalanche conditions!

We crested the ridge and decided to head for the top of Pan Point at around 7200 feet.

I was still surprised to see no tracks up above us since we had such a late start and the Paradise parking lot was FULL.

Whatever, the more powder for us.

Well, the way down was fabulous.  My favorite run is to cut underneath McClure Rock.  It's a little less exposed to the cliff bands around Pan Point.  I rarely find avalanche conditions out this far.  However, I did notice a crown feature on those cliff bands back down towards Pan Point.  East facing, steep, ridge top... no surprise.

However, out where we were, the snow was outstanding.

Once we hit the flats to the east of Pan point, we traversed down the top of Mazama Ridge until we got to a slope locally known as Bundy's Blunder.  It's just upridge of Sluiskin Falls.  There was some slide deposition on it from the sun action today.  It was only 4-5", but wet and heavy.  It was enough to carry us, so we traversed out a hundred yards to the right and merrily made sweet turns all the way to the Paradise Valley Road.

Here's the latest weather history comparison:

Date 12/23

Max Recorded Snowdepth at Paradise 166 inches

Year of Max Recorded Snowdepth at Paradise 1916

Historic Average Snowpack at Paradise 77.9 inches

Current Snowdepth at Paradise 78 inches

Percent of Normal 100.13%

Percent of Historic Max 46.99%

Average Hi Temp: 32

Today's Hi Temp 22

Average Lo Temp: 21

Today's Lo Temp 16

Come on up!  It's good!