Randonee Skiing on the Muir Snowfield (~8500ft)
Paradise, Mt Rainier National Park
November 10, 2011
Andrew Marvel and I hadn't been out skiing together since May, so we decided to drive down to Mt Rainier in search of some sweet stashes of snow. We left Seattle around 6am and when we arrived at the Paradise parking lot there were about 10 other cars there. As we were putting on our boots and getting our skis ready, I realized I didn't bring my approach shoes, so I would be hiking up in my ski boots. I had hoped that there would be enough snow for us to just skin up from the parking lot, but alas...not today!
Andrew had the same idea as me and brought a pack that wasn't a ski pack with carrying straps, so he had to get creative to attach his skis. It didn't matter since it was an incredible blue bird day with the mountain standing proud in all its glory!
We hiked up to the top of Alta Vista and took a little break to drink some water. We were glad we had our sunscreen since we almost left it in Andrew's truck. About 50 yards up the trail from the parking lot Andrew remembered that we didn't have it...
"I forgot the sunscreen! Should we hike back down and get it?"
"Nah! We put alot on in the parking lot, we'll be fine.
"Do you think we'll need it later?"
"It's not a bad thing to have just in case. We don't want to get burned again!"
So we headed back down to retrieve the sunscreen. Earlier this year in May we both got bad sunburns and the still fresh memory of that unpleasant experience was the deciding factor.
We continued up the trail under the steep face of Panarama Point to where it leveled off and put on our skis. It was nice to have the weight off our backs and underfoot. The snow cover was still thin in places with rocks sticking out so we carefully picked our way up through the rocks to Pebble Creek where the coverage was finally skiable.
To get out of the wind we took a lunch break near some rocks above Pebble Creek. The sun was out but the wind had picked up so it was still pretty chilly. We continued up to about 8300' where we decided to turn around. The snowfield was pretty wind scoured at this point so figured that the best skiing was below us. So we took off our skins, locked down our heels and schussed back down!
As we skied down we heard some whoops and hollers from other skiers! As we stoppped near one skier, taking a break on his way up, he offered us one of his Rainier tall boys! Ahhhhhh...what a guy! We chatted with him as we enjoyed his gift then said goodbye and continued on our way down.
Thanks, Merv, for a great day skiing in the sunshine! And we didn't even get sunburned!