Saturday, October 19, 2013

October Madness! Great weather, climbing, and skiing.

Shutdown over, Paradise is screaming for attention this week.  The weather is great and the skiing is phenomenal.  It reminds me of Colorado spring skiing.  Here's the scoop.

First, start by checking this image...

As of Saturday, October 19, 2013, you can still don your skis at the parking lot and ski all the way to camp Muir without taking off your skis, a few tricky spots and rock sections exist.  However I do think that the snow will melt quickly with the high temps and sun at paradise, but even when that happens skiing should be possible from the alta vista area for a while.  The snow is freezing at night and you can walk on the snow until mid morning.  Good skinning.  It is actually spring corn.  However in the afternoon, it is turning pretty punchy.

Sunday, October 20th, 2013 - Update to the above paragraph: It didn't take too much of the warm weather to melt through some of the usual thinner areas which has necessitated carrying the the skis for short distances.  On 2-3 breakovers from Pebble Creek to Glacier Vista, you have to take off your skis to make your way over some rocks.  At this point, I also think it's prudent to follow the summer trail to Pebble Creek.  It's easy to get drawn up some slopes because the snow continues as far as you can see, but it will end in tears.

Until enough intrepid souls forge their way to pan point, there will be some trail finding. There is still a steep exposed section from glacier vista on the traverse to pan point.  Ice axe recommended at this point.

At this time, I think I'd split the difference between the summer route through pebble creek and the winter route to McClure and below sugar loaf.  Once on the large snowfield below sugar loaf a t 7500, it's smooth sailing to camp Muir.

The skinning up the snowfield is outstanding.  Not too slick, not at all too punchy.  And no rocks to cross.  We came up to take the fall measurements on the glacier ablation (among other things).  There was at least 1.4 meters of snow during the snow/storm cycle the second week of October.

We made a trip up to Ingraham flats in the afternoon on Saturday, October 19.  Foot penetration, averaged, was about 20 cm, before noon.  Snow was softening as it got later.

The route across the Cowlitz is pretty strait forward.  Stay high on the traverse to the slope before cathedral gap.  Can't skin up the gap, too much rock exposed.

The traverse between the gap and the flats, also known as Dunn's Role, is pretty safe as of today.  It did see an accumulation of snow, highly variable.

Once again, the brief October storm didn't bury the summer's crevasses, so the right route stays high next to cathedral rocks.  A narrow corridor hugging the rocks leads out on tot he flats.  Lots of good safe camping sites on the flats.

Above the flats, I think that the normal route would still be a go to the base of the cleaver.  We were checking the glacier ablation stakes at the flats.  We measured about 2 meters of snow from the October storm cycle.  About 80 cm from the surface there was a pretty brittle layer that didn't even allow me to finish conducting an extended column test.  However, it didn't slide on each test, it fell over...  For what it's worth.

I have taken down the web cam for the winter.  Sorry!  It's just too expensive and precarious, along with the radio antenna and infrastructure to let it set out all winter.

Stefan Lofgren