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Monday, June 30, 2008
"Muir on Saturday" - June 21
With more ambitious plans dashed thanks to the predicted afternoon rain, Scott and I set our sights on something attainable and to take care of some unfinished business (for Scott anyway). Back to Mt. Rainier to ski/ride the Nisqually Chutes by way of Camp Muir. Neither of us has been up to Muir in several years, so a return visit was long overdue. Three hours up, a short wait for Scott, lunch in the new climber's shelter and then it was time for the descent. Upon reaching the chute's entrance, I saw evidence of a rather sizeable avalanche that had run down the gut. No matter though, as there was ample room on either side of the debris swath to carve...and carve until my thighs were on fire, and yet it still wasn't over. No butt-checks like last time either, just endless, carve-able corn. The skies finally unleashed shortly before we returned to the small basin below Pan Point on the skin back out, but this did little to affect the stoke. A final short descent back to the parking lot and off to the Scaleburger in Elbe for some artery-clogging goodness!
Friday, June 20, 2008
Middle (Little) Sister - North Ridge/Southwest Slopes, June 14
It's been several years since Aaron and I last saw each other, let alone climbed together. A lot has changed since our Mt. Buckner climb back in 2002, but at my suggestion to climb and ski the Three Sisters, Aaron was still his usual self - always up for a challenge, no matter how ambitious. With an invitation to stay at his house in Bend, I loaded up the car and left Seattle at noon on an overcast Friday. An interminable drive south to Portland, then along hwy26 through Gresham and Government Camp finally reaching hwy97 for the final leg to Bend, saw me at Aaron and Amy's doorstep a fair bit later than I had hoped (97 via I90 appears to be the better way to go).
"Juneuary" they are calling this unseasonably wintry weather we're having this late spring. Indeed, it must be extremely rare to find over a foot of fresh powder snow on the Interglacier in June. Sure, one could always snowmobile into Glacier Basin in the winter and establish camp for the weekend and hopefully find the Interglacier in stable conditions, but to nail such conditions right after the White River Road has opened is remarkable. Perhaps what is more remarkable was the weather we encountered on this fine day. With only Mt. Baker, Little Tahoma and presumably Mount Adams to the south also poking above the sea of clouds, the forecast was actually accurate for a change; it was indeed cloudy and rainy below the cloud deck. We here in the PNW are very fortunate to have a mountain like Mt. Rainier to play on, as it affords us the opportunity to get up above the weather. And what a burly mountain it is...
The weather prognosis for the day was not particularly encouraging - isolated showers were forecast for the mountains with another front due to arrive later that night. But, I have been suckered by the forecast and overblown spring avalanche warnings one too many times this season, and I was not about to wake up late to another unexpectedly sunny day with nothing but a hangover to nurse. And so, with hopes of getting above the weather, a trip to climb and ski/board Little Tahoma was born. Joining me on this test of lowered expectations were Eli, John and Eric (AKA Snowslut of TAY fame).