Friday, February 23, 2018

Winter has Come Roaring Back

There was a time frame there where I think most skiers and snowboarders in the state were getting a little worried that winter had decided to pack up and call it a season. However, winter has come back strong the past week or so. We have been getting steady snow almost daily here at Rainier for almost a week. And it has been coming in cold and fluffy!

With the weekend approaching, it is looking like there is yet another big storm taking aim at the Cascades, and Mount Rainier. There is a winter storm warning in affect from tonight until early tomorrow morning. So if you are planning to come up to the park be prepared for winter driving conditions, and be patient with the plow drivers and the road opening times. They do a ton of hard work to keep the road in good shape all winter! Also, don't forget to throw in your tire chains, as all vehicles are required to carry them in the park this time of year. Now, with all the logistics out of the way, we can talk about the snow and skiing/riding conditions!

Climbing rangers were out in the Paradise area on Thursday to assess avalanche and snow conditions. They found quite a lot of new snow (about a meter, or 3 feet for you non-metric folks!), sitting right side up on top of a prominent crust from February 13th. This all sounds pretty good, however, on top of that crust is a layer of facets that are causing the potential for deep instabilities. The layer appears to be stubborn to trigger since it is so deep in the snow pack here at Rainier. However, this layer may present itself closer to the surface depending on the location and aspect. Long story short, there is certainly a sleeping dragon down in the snow. But, the good news, it is getting deeper by the day and the facets that were observed were trending towards rounds. But this problem is still out there, and if triggered, has the potential to go very large.

With all of this in mind, the climbing rangers chose more conservative terrain to ski, and found excellent ski quality on moderate angled slopes, some of the best turns of the season perhaps! So it is definitely worth the trip up this weekend to take advantage of some Utah or Colorado type snow in the Cascades. Remember to check the park's social media pages (links on the right side of this page) for the latest road conditions as well as NWAC for the latest on weather and avalanche conditions.