Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Camp Muir Ski Tour - Mt. Rainier

Date: March 30, 2013
Location: Paradise to Camp Muir, Mt. Rainier National Park
Elevation at Paradise: 5,420 ft
Elevation at Camp Muir: 10,080 ft
Total elevation gain: 4,660 ft
Distance: ~4.5 miles one way

I live on the eastern side of Washington State.  Mt. Rainier is located on the western side of the state.  Realistically, it takes 6 hours in the winter months (September to June) to get to the trailhead from my house in Pullman, Washington.  However, when the weather is like it was this past weekend in late March, I make the drive nonetheless.

We left Pullman on Friday afternoon with the intent of camping and getting up early for a hike and ski down from Camp Muir.  Road access in the park is limited to Longmire during the winter months until ~8 am.  So we slept in the back of my buddy's car in the parking lot at Longmire.  The gate opened around 7:30 am.  The sun and the mountain was out.

We started skinning up from Paradise around 8:15 am.  Many other skiers were out and had the same idea we did.  We made it to the top of Panaroma Point around 9:30 am.  We made the long trek up the Muir Snowfield to Camp Muir by 11:45 am.  The hike was as easy going and enjoyable I had ever experienced.  It took us 3.5 hours to gain 4,660 ft  in about 4.5 miles (In the dead of winter, in whiteout and high winds, it has taken up to 7 hours).

We took a nap and enjoyed the views from Camp Muir.  There were at least 20 other people up there with many others still making their way up.  Before the snow got too slushy and heavy, we made our way down.  The skiing was awesome - good snow, sunshine, and great views.  See video below for proof.