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peter707
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Joined: 16 Jun 2022
Posts: 137 | TRs | Pics
Location: Seattle, WA
peter707
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PostTue Apr 02, 2024 11:20 pm 
I love going to Camp Muir in the winter and spring. Sometimes Rainier prefers not to be climbed, and it turns into an adventure. The terrain is relatively benign on-route, but since it's one of the higher routes accessible the wind, snow, and visibility can be severe. This trip I'm joined by Thomas, who wants to get some training in before he heads back to France (Mt. Blanc!). He has a lot of experience on steep alpine routes so I don't anticipate he'd have any issues even if we got off route. The forecast seemed OK enough - clouds in the morning with mild snow, then partly sunny in the afternoon. Avalanche conditions were reasonable. This would be my 4th attempt this gate season, and with any luck it would be a success. We arrived a bit early at Longmire and drank some coffee, put on skins, etc. The gate opened on time, and we let the cars dissipate and headed up at 9:10am. Travel on the road was straightforward, and we didn't need to use tire-chains (although we had them). We headed up from Paradise at 9:52am. The snow had quite a bit of grip and soon we cruised up to Panorama Face. Some folks had camped up there, and Thomas was puzzled - why would someone be camping up here in these conditions? I told him that Panorama Point was the most popular day hike after rattlesnake ledge in WA and had good views.
He'd have to take my word for it about those views.
He'd have to take my word for it about those views.
Partly sunny
Partly sunny
The Muir Snowfield was free of distractions. In fact it was eerily free of all sensory input other than our burning calves. We went fast, there was a great skin track.
Clouds thinned out at 9500' or so, we saw a bit of the upper mountain.
Clouds thinned out at 9500' or so, we saw a bit of the upper mountain.
Camp Muir
Camp Muir
We arrived at Muir at 12:15pm or so, and hung out there while waiting for visibility for half an hour. We might have got some if we waited it out until 3:00pm, but Thomas had to pack for his trip so it'd be good to head down. So we cautiously skied the whiteout. There was not enough wind to obscure the tracks and the GPS was working well for any ambiguity. The descent was a little slow given the rain/snow blowing around, about every 10 turns I had to stop and dry off my ski goggles. The descent concluded within an hour or so, putting us back at the car at 1:40pm, well ahead of 4:30pm parking lot departure time. Success on try #4! Appendix - Previous Muir Attempts: Open season - 6/6 = 100% 08/03/2019 - 4:40 up (foot) 06/21/2020 - 4:56 up (foot/snowboard) 06/26/2021 - 3:10 up (foot / snowboard) 07/03/2021 - 4:14 up (foot) 05/22/2022 - 5:32 up (foot / snowboard) 04/30/2023 - 3:51 up (touring skis, successful) Gate season - 2/7 = 28% 11/07/2020 - 3:00 up to 7600' (foot/snowboard, unsuccessful, due to lack of needed flotation) 04/22/2022 - 4:20 up to 9400' (snowshoe/snowboard, unsuccessful, due to gate timing) 02/11/2023 - 4:17 up (touring skis, successful) 11/18/2023 - 4:00 up to 9000' (touring skis, unsuccessful, due to icy slopes / gate timing / whiteout, no splitboard crampons) 03/06/2024 - 6:30 up to 6100' (touring skis, unsuccessful, Longmire start) 03/10/2024 - 5:40 up to 6400' (touring skis, unsuccessful, wind slab, Longmire start) 03/24/2024 - 3:23 up (touring skis, successful) Appendix - What factors can take extra time? After how smooth today was, it seemed weird to think about how we could lose 170 minutes and not make it in time to finish the route before the gate. This is the main list of ways I can think of: 1) gate never opens (+200 minutes from Longmire departure) 2) gate opens at 9:30 or 10:00 instead of 9:00. +30 mins / +60mins 3) tire chains +20 mins 4) slow car exit at Paradise +15 mins 5) snowshoes / ski problems where people have to debug how to get gear working +10 mins / +20 mins in deep powder. 6) icy panorama face (+30 mins) 7) low coverage requires booting rocks up and down (+30 mins) 8) fresh snow & setting ski track (10 minutes per inch of fresh powder, IMO) 9) visibility going down +15 (ski) / +30 (snowboard) 10) snowboarders getting stuck in pow (+30mins) 11) road closing early at 4pm (+60mins)

Now I Fly, awilsondc, RichP, zimmertr, zeldathewelder, jaysway
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williswall
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Joined: 30 Sep 2007
Posts: 1968 | TRs | Pics
Location: Redmond
williswall
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PostWed Apr 03, 2024 4:12 pm 
I really enjoy your trip analyses, you put a lot of thought into them. I have yet to hit Muir this year, but probably this month sometime, after I've milked Crystal of more vert.

I desire medium danger williswall.com

Now I Fly, peter707
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