Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Let it Snow, Let it Snow

There is no doubt that it has been a "December to remember" in the Cascades. The snow has steadily stacked up in Paradise, with totals approaching 100". All of this snow has brought out the skiers and boarders, snowshoers and sledders, and folks who just want to play in the snow.

With the holidays fast approaching, and schools on winter break there are a few things to keep in mind as you head up to the park for a winter outing. Over the past several weeks there have been several incidents of folks venturing into the backcountry or even as high as Camp Muir without the necessary equipment. In both cases, the parties ended up spending an unplanned night in the public shelter. Thankfully these situations ended well for all parties involved. But it is a good reminder that when you are travelling in the backcountry to be prepared for all weather conditions. The winter weather on Mount Rainier can be far more extreme and fickle than summer weather patterns. The park's website contains a useful page regarding winter preparedness. One item to never leave the parking lot without in the winter is a shovel. A tool as simple as a shovel can be life saving. Also, if you are planning an overnight in the Paradise area, or even Camp Muir, please remember that a permit is still required. These can be obtained at the Jackson Visitor Center (Link contains operating hours), as well as via self registration, which is located in the tunnel of the Old Ranger Station in Paradise.

For those skiers and snowboarders out there planning a trip to Mount Rainier, the skiing has been great over the past couple of weeks. And while the snow has been stacking up, and our coverage is increasing, remember that it is still early in the season and low snow hazards do still exist. Some streams or trees may not be fully covered just yet, so please use caution when crossing areas where streams may be below. As far as avalanche conditions, while skiing or snowshoeing in the backcountry, remember to check the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center 's avalanche and weather forecast prior to heading up to the park. You will also want to make sure everyone in your group has a shovel, beacon and a probe, and the knowledge of how to use them.

From the rangers up here at Mount Rainier, we hope to see you all around the holidays, and we hope you have a great holiday season! Bring your skis, snowboard, or snowshoes on up and come enjoy the beautiful winter season at Mount Rainier.

-Climbing Rangers