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Smoker

Done Rainer this winter?

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Wanting to know if anyone here has made an attempt on Rainer yet this winter?

Post a note on snow conditions and coverage if you have.

Thanks

Smoker

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Back in mid-November, we did Camp Muir, and hiked on up to the beehive. The snow was very thin below Panorama Point, there were plenty of spots where the snow had been worn away by snowboarders, exposing the dormant heather underneath. The snow cover is sufficiently thin that a glissade down Pan Point is not recommended.

There’s a new door on the Muir hut, new at least since I was last there last December; a half-door that closes to keep the snow out much more effectively. Our summit fees at use, I guess.

On the ridge up to The Beehive (my first time on that route) the snow was also pretty thin, and varied from icy to loose powder. A lot more fun than the slog up to Muir, though!

We did see a two-climber party descending from a summit climb; they’d taken the DC route and left Muir for the summit at 10:30 PM, and were descending the Muir snowfield at around 11:00 AM. They reported good conditions, and a boot-track to the summit.

The biggest problem was the locked gate at Longmire. We had gone there intending to do a one-day climb of Little Tahoma. I talked with a climbing ranger on the phone on Friday about conditions and such, about the Paradise vs. Summerland approaches, and specifically asked about registering in the early morning. “No problem,” he said. “There’s an unattended registration drop box. You can register at 2:00 AM if you want.”

So, imagine our vexation, after getting up at 3:00 AM to drive down from Seattle, and arriving at Longmire well before 7:00 AM, to see the gate, with the sign “Road closed for snow removal. Opens at 10:00 AM.” The gate was padlocked, so there was no chance to pretend we didn’t notice the gate.

It turned out that this particular day, someone opened it some time before 8:00 that morning, although when we asked a park employee, she said that it was up to the snow plow drivers. The fact that it hadn’t snowed in a couple of weeks doesn’t seem to matter, and we were told by someone else that the issue is actually one of icy roads.

To increase the pressure, the gate is locked at 6:00 PM. This means that if you’re planning on any sort of climbing activity on Rainier, you’re constrained both in the morning and the evening, and if you run long, you are, apparently, out of luck, and in addition to climbing supplies, the prudent winter Rainier climber will pack food, etc, in his car for an unplanned bivouac in the parking lot.

 

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Got a good look at the Gib ledges route from Castle/Pinnacle last weekend. The ledges look thin for snow cover, and would definitely involve some climbing on rock after the drop off. The Nisqually/Gibralter chute might be easier, albeit more dangerous. The mountain still has the fall look, with lots of blue ice showing. I cant ever remember seeing it like this in January.

Eric

Whidbey Island

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Got a good look at the Gib ledges route from Castle/Pinnacle last weekend. The ledges look thin for snow cover, and would definitely involve some climbing on rock after the drop off. The Nisqually/Gibralter chute might be easier, albeit more dangerous. The mountain still has the fall look, with lots of blue ice showing. I cant ever remember seeing it like this in January.

Eric

Whidbey Island

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