June-uary conditions have arrived on Mount Rainier. The past 48 hours has brought new snow to the mountain, with a trace of new snow as low as 4800' and accumulation beginning around 5800'. Snowfall totals are in the 1-4" range between 5800' and 9600'.
The Glacier Basin Trail is largely snow-free until 5400'. At 5400', however, the approach to Glacier Basin changes dramatically. There is a short (100 yards long), but significant section of avalanche debris filled with snapped trees and branches. This section is wanded and has a decent bootpack, but it is strenuous travel and adds a few minutes to the journey into Glacier Basin. Beyond this blowdown, there is continuous snow all the way to Camp Curtis.
The Inter Glacier is completely filled in, except for one small crevasse that is starting to open around 8000' on the climber's left side of the glacier. Recent snowfall has somewhat smoothed the surface conditions, with 1-3" of new snow lying over last week's corn snow. This snow has already begun the transformation into spring snow, so early June powder skiing conditions were short lived. Beware of this new snow warming up on solar slopes and with rising freezing levels since loose wet avalanches are possible.
Travel conditions this weekend are expected to be challenging with shin-deep boot penetration and whiteout conditions. Personal experience, competence in GPS navigation, and conservative decision-making are essential with the current weather and snowpack conditions.
There is no established bootback on the Emmons Glacier and teams should not expect and wanded or maintained route. Travel and navigation on the upper mountain will require a full complement of glacier travel and mountaineering skills this weekend.