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seahuskies
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PostWed Nov 18, 2020 8:14 pm 
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Planning on doing Panorama Point on a weekend and I assume there will be plenty of tracks, but would prefer to understand the route for my own safety.

The Rainier NPS map makes it look like there are two routes. One up via Alta Vista, and another on the Edith Creek Basin. Is the main difference steepness?

Page 2: https://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/upload/Paradise-Winter-Recreation-Nov18wMap.pdf


The WTA description is somewhat confusing to me. It sounds like you head up on the Skyline trail, then it says you travel west towards Myrtle Falls. Shouldn't this be traveling east? Or am I misunderstanding the departure point somehow?

https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/panorama-point-snowshoe

Thanks!
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Randito
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PostWed Nov 18, 2020 9:20 pm 
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The Edith Creek route is longer and requires crossing the creek on a narrow bridge.

I can't speak for others, but I've only traversed the Edith Creek route as part of a mellow loop skiing up to the base of Panarama Point via the Alta Vista route and then down the Edith Creek loop.

Ascending Panaorama Point itself is something that many people do in the winter -- but almost all of them go pretty much straight up the gut of "Pan Face" which carries a number of risks,  not the least of which are hazards from other travelers above you knocking stuff down or they themselves falling on you. 

When I ascend it min-winter I prefer to take a route more on the right side of "Pan Face" zigging and zagging between the scruffy trees -- but avoiding going too far right where there is a cliff edge.

ETA:  If you plan on ascending above the base of Panorama Point -- it is useful to have avalanche education, gear and to have practiced using it before venturing on terrain where they might be needed to protect life.
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seahuskies
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PostWed Nov 18, 2020 9:48 pm 
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Thanks for replying Randito. I think we will rule out the Edith Creek option then.

I am unfamiliar with the Paradise side, are you referring to the pink portion of the map, that you hug it to the eastern side? https://www.gaiagps.com/map/?loc=16.5/-121.7319/46.8024&pubLink=8fJ6wDHKiVhe4lctmdfofiDa&areaId=38fbcbf7-4bfa-475a-b10a-168370b391a1

How experienced should one be for Panorama Point? We are experienced three season backpackers. My wife who will be going has taken avalanche classes but we are still getting our feet wet with snow travel and would rather not bite off more than can we chew if this is too advanced for beginners.

We are not dead set on doing Panorama and we are open to other options at Paradise.

Thank you again
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Randito
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PostWed Nov 18, 2020 10:02 pm 
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Yeah -- the pink section is "Pan Face".

Backpacking experience is great -- but snow safety skills are distinct and different. 

A couple of very basic texts to read up on are:

https://www.amazon.com/ABCs-Avalanche-Safety-Sue-Ferguson/dp/0898868858
https://www.amazon.com/Allen-Mikes-Avalanche-Book-Staying/dp/0762779993/ref=pd_lpo_14_t_2/135-2978224-8431540?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0762779993&pd_rd_r=8fb3f0c2-9357-4bcf-99b2-dee6c06f8aea&pd_rd_w=ve0Y0&pd_rd_wg=Z4l7x&pf_rd_p=7b36d496-f366-4631-94d3-61b87b52511b&pf_rd_r=HN94C3ZS4W3Y74W35Z4Y&psc=1&refRID=HN94C3ZS4W3Y74W35Z4Y

Studying these are in no way comparable to taking an avalanche awareness class, but they might give you some insight into what some of the risks involved are.

Another useful resource is to consult the Northwest Avalanche Center's forecast for the area:

https://nwac.us/avalanche-forecast/#/west-slopes-south

NWAC hasn't started issuing forecasts for this winter yet,  but there are "crowd sourced" observations being posted.
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seahuskies
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PostWed Nov 18, 2020 10:33 pm 
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Thanks for the book recommendations! My wife has done an in-person class and I am signed up for a Zoom class (due to Covid) and will be doing an in-person class as soon things go back to normal.

I think I found a picture of what you were referring to, so you recommend switch backing through the clump of trees on the right side?

https://i1.wp.com/travelandhikewithpcos.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Headingtohill.jpg?resize=1280%2C960&ssl=1
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williswall
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PostWed Nov 18, 2020 11:04 pm 
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Go in good weather and softer snow....I was at the top of Pan Point last year and saw a snowshoer rocket past on her bum, sliding on a consolidated snow pack. There is usually a well trod boot path on the way up, and I've done it many times in trail runners, but only when there is no crust. Always a good idea to take an ice axe or whippet, as long as you know how to use them.

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alpinefish3
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PostThu Nov 19, 2020 8:40 am 
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Randito wrote:
When I ascend it min-winter I prefer to take a route more on the right side of "Pan Face" zigging and zagging between the scruffy trees -- but avoiding going too far right where there is a cliff edge.

Like you, I donít love going right up the middle of pan face and always wondered about an alternative. Looking at the map it looks like you would have to climb up the main face a bit to ~6480í and then could cut right through the trees?
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MangyMarmot
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PostMon Nov 23, 2020 11:48 am 
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If you go on a nice weekend with reasonable avalanche danger, there will be hundreds of people there. The route will be obvious. This is an extremely popular route.
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hbb
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PostMon Nov 23, 2020 1:05 pm 
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seahuskies wrote:
I think I found a picture of what you were referring to, so you recommend switch backing through the clump of trees on the right side?

That's the route I generally prefer for Panorama Point. Lower slope angle, fewer people.
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seahuskies
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PostMon Nov 23, 2020 2:16 pm 
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Thanks all, the trip was a success and indeed easy to follow. Although, I still think the WTA description is wrong unless I am missing something obvious?
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Randito
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PostMon Nov 23, 2020 3:42 pm 
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seahuskies wrote:
Thanks all, the trip was a success and indeed easy to follow. Although, I still think the WTA description is wrong unless I am missing something obvious?

I re-read the WTA route description -- my interpretation of that text is they are describing approaching via the Edith Creek variation -- especially since they mention passing Myrtle Falls -- which the "crossing the creek on a narrow bridge" I mentioned. 

The steep slope mentioned in the WTA description sound like slope leading to "The Golden Gate" -- their description continues with:  "crossing Edith Creek (carefully), then heading uphill, over the lower ridge, turning right toward the mountain, and going up a steep slope on the right."   with the highlighted section being the ascent of "Pan Face" 

Their description is a bit misguided as I think the vast majority of travellers head toward Panorama Point / Camp Muir by following the route that passes on the western side of Alta Vista -- which is essentially following the "summer trails" up to the base of "Pan Face".   

Following the "summer trail" beyond the base of "Pan Face" once there are several feet of snow is not reccomended, the trail cuts across a cliffband and is challenging (and risky) to traverse once snow drifts fill in the trail cut.

In general the area above the base of "Pan Face" hosts a range of additional hazards to manage.    The hazard that has caused the most mishaps over the years is fog rolling in rather featureless terrain above timberline.    These fogs have resulted in many lost travelers.   These fogs can be so thick that one cannot see one own ski tips, nor whether the snow surface at one's ski tips is flat, a bump or a dip.   Some of my party members have experienced vertigo and nausea in these fogs.     A quite common navigational error is to follow the "fall line" -- which from the slopes above Panorama Point leads one over cliffs dropping down into the Nisqually Glacier.  Another common problem is overcompensating for the natural tendancy to follow the "fall line" and ending up on the Paradise Glacier with it's cliffs and crevasses. 

Over the decades perhaps a few dozen people have been killed by fog and poor weather between Pan Point and Camp Muir.   Perhaps a half dozen of those folk's remains have never been located.
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seahuskies
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PostMon Nov 23, 2020 7:01 pm 
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Thanks for sharing Randito, that is very interesting!

Has Pan Face itself had any avalanches that you know of?

P.S. - Thank you for your input on the classes, this morning I signed up for a AIARE 1 class and I am doing the Avalanche Awareness Class next week.
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Randito
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PostMon Nov 23, 2020 8:19 pm 
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seahuskies wrote:
Has Pan Face itself had any avalanches that you know of?

Yes. 

Pan Face is a complex problem.

1) It's steepness (mid 30 degrees) makes it prime avalanche terrain.
2) It's SW aspect  (N-S-E-W orientation) results in the slope often being wind swept rather than loaded and sun exposure both weakens and consolidates the snow.
3) The high levels of traffic on the slope compacts to and stabilizes the slope in a manner similar to the way lift served ski slopes are stabilized by "skier compaction"

Most of the serious avalanche incidents have happened:

1) During or immediately following storms that have deposited snow at a rate above 1/2 inch per hour.
2) Occasional storms come from the NE (common is from the SW) when a storm comes in that that direction Pan Face is a lee slope and gets wind loaded.  These storms also tend to be colder with fluffier snow, enticing "powder hounds" to "get to the goods" before it gets tracked up.

That said, Pan Face is far from the only slope in the Paradise area that has killed and maimed with avalanches.    Because of the copious amounts snow that can be deposited,  people have been surprised by small slopes breaking and causing trouble.

There was a fatality a few years ago on the slope above Myrtle Falls broke and the relatively small avalanche carried the victim into the canyon above Myrtle Falls burying them under 10 meters of snow.

At least with Pan Face the slope fans out at the base, rather than narrowing into a trap.
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zimmertr
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PostTue Nov 24, 2020 1:00 pm 
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Randito you are a bastion of knowledge and I just want to say I'm very thankful for your contributions to this forum!
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zephyr
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PostTue Nov 24, 2020 5:35 pm 
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zimmertr wrote:
Randito you are a bastion of knowledge

Ain't that the truth!    ~z
.
.
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