Mt. Rainier - Fuhrer Finger skiDate:
Drew, Hannah, and I skiied Rainier from Columbia Crest to Nisqually Bridge yesterday.
We left Paradise around midnight (after a 4 hour sleepless attempt at sleeping - due in part to one of the notorious paradise foxes harrasing me in my fitful sleep attempt, they apparently left Drew and Hannah alone.) Skinning up to Pan Point - the snow had a interesting zipper-crust like quality but the zipper crust was actually 2cm+ thick - this overlayed a m/f-ish crust layer which overlayed a thickish layer of dry snow - we found this snow quality up to about 7k - and we suspected it to turn to mank with sunshine - however it never morphed into mank, and instead became a corn-like ski surface in the afternoon...
We found hardish styrofoam or dragon-skin as Drew described it - in the Finger. At around 11k (towrds the top of the narrow part of the Finger) dawn began to light the east:
Drew and Hannah at a col like feature around 11k in the finger area
The wind also began to magnify the cold cold air, and we were looking for a rest area to refuel for an hour or so out of the wind which was cruely numbing us. We futilely tried several areas, then Drew scoped a rocky "cave" type feature which turned out to be money.
As we continued up, we found more and more soft snow, so donning the skins was an obvious choice to negotiate the upper Nisqually Glacier (which is usually heavily crevassed) where we found mostly wind packed pow - intersperesed with the occasional difficult skinning knar.
The wind grew as we ascended, and we were being knocked around as the crater came into view. We skinned funky rimed windpack / windboard / and rime ice to the crater in HIGH winds.
Standing on Columbia Crest without being blown off was a difficult feat. Thankfully it was relitevely warm and sunny - 20dgish - otherwise - we would have needed warmer wear...
Skiing down was an deeply enjoyable change from skiing up - even though the first 1000' or so was sustrugified/rimed mank. The Upper Nisqually was mostly ripper wind packed pow, then firmer corneskish/windboard snow nearing and through the finger - all of wich was very smooth and easy turning.
Surpriseingly we found good to great snow on the Wilson Glacier:
Amar Andalkar had seen us earlier in the day from the Muir snowfield, and he decided to ski the Nisqually Chute (which looked like ripper corn) to try and catch us as we skiied down the lower Nisqually towrd the bridge. He successfully and unexpectedly intercepted us around the base of the Nisqually Chute, and we all enjoyed slightly sloppy-wet-snow turns down to the bridge. Where after a not-too-long-wait Hannah and Amar scored a ride up to their cars, and in no time we were off to much needed greasy food and beer.
Thanks Hannah, Drew, and Amar!