Sunday, October 31, 2021

Fall Skiing Considerations


Backcountry skiers and snowboarders near Panorama Pt. -NPS Photo

A series of storms has deposited new snow on the mountain over the last few weeks. Skiers and snowboarders have taken advantage of clear weather between systems to start their winter season. On Saturday, Oct 30 the upper lot at Paradise was full by 10:30am, mostly with snow-sliders. Conditions this time of year are always a mixed-bag and coverage is usually spotty at best.

The Paradise area trails are still exposed in most places with very slippery patches of ice in places. Skiers/boarders carried their equipment on their packs up to the top of Panorama Point for the most part. Above there the Muir snowfield was mostly covered in rime ice with a few patches of soft snow near 9000'. Many people turned around at 9000' or below where the rime was very slick. A few (mostly the ones that brought ski-crampons) made it to Camp Muir where the weather was calm and quite warm compared to Paradise.

Please remember that at this time of year the days are short and the gate at Longmire is on winter hours. Plan your turn around time to make to back to your vehicle with enough time to be down by the time the road closes to traffic. Please look here for all of the Park's road status.

Remember that emergency response is more difficult when the trails are snow covered. Ski, ride, hike well within your abilities as the winter environment on Mt. Rainier is extremely harsh.

Another issue this time of year is the trampling of vegetation. A thin layer of snow may allow one to slide on skis or snowboard but it may not be sufficient to protect the wildflower species that Paradise is famous for. The Dead Horse Creek junction was hit especially hard over the weekend. Have fun and enjoy your park but please give the plants a break while they go dormant until next July.

Skier and hiker tracks near Dead Horse Creek. -NPS Photo