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Ranier in March
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altelis


Dec 2, 2009, 6:43 PM
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Ranier in March
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Hey guys. I'm trying to figure out what I want to do during spring break this year. My break is the middle of March. I am debating skiing and alpine climbing. Skiing, I know well this time of year. Climbing, not so much.

I have experience in the mountains in the summer off my skis and in the winter on them. Just not straight climbing in the winter/spring.

What are people's ideas about Ranier or the surrounding peaks mid March? I was thinking these as opposed to the California peaks because I was actually thinking about keeping my skis on my feet most of the way, and peaks like Whitney don't have snow on the entire approach.

Peaks with the potential for keeping the skis on my feet the majority of the time would be great. I'm also debating doing this solo (partly due to lack of partners but mainly because I've always thought about doing a peak like this solo...).

SO, what do people think? What have been your experiences this time of year? How stable is the snow? What are the glaciers/crevasses/snow bridges like? Temps? Etc. Etc...

Thanks!


jacobbelsher


Dec 2, 2009, 7:08 PM
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Re: [altelis] Ranier in March [In reply to]
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if you stick to the standard routes (emmons, D.C.) all the crevasses will be covered. you could likely boot/skin to the top pretty easily and safely. it will be cold. how cold...? i don't know. people do ski the nisqually, but i don't know about that. looks burly. however, all this is probably moot because if you try to climb in march you will have to get lucky with the weather. it is always stormy that time of year. how big is your window?


altelis


Dec 2, 2009, 7:12 PM
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Re: [jacobbelsher] Ranier in March [In reply to]
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relatively shitty. my entire break is march 13-21.

which is why i'm leaning toward somewhere like SLC or Bozeman where I can backcountry ski if the weathers good but always grab a lift if not.

but i'd REALLY like to be able to get into the mountains on my own. sounds good about the bridges.

in terms of the nisqually, i figure if i'm on my own and hoping to hit a good window i'll do myself a favor a skip that long a route my first time out on this mountain...


altelis


Dec 3, 2009, 12:11 PM
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Re: [altelis] Ranier in March [In reply to]
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Anybody else?

ANYbody at all?


malcolm777b


Dec 3, 2009, 1:12 PM
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Re: [altelis] Ranier in March [In reply to]
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altelis wrote:
Anybody else?

ANYbody at all?

It's a crapshoot, all based on weather. We usually have a high pressure system in the Northwest sometime in late January/early February which lasts about 2 weeks. Usually in March we are reminded again that we live in the PacNW. If it is raining here, the conditions can be quite unstable on Rainier. Though if that's the case, the skiing at Crystal can be fantastic. It was even featured in the latest Warren Miller film, so you'll have something to do even if it's not Rainier. Backcountry skiing here is also excellent (see turns-all-year.com for some examples).

You WILL NOT BE BORED in March in western Washington if you ski.


welle


Dec 3, 2009, 1:34 PM
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Re: [altelis] Ranier in March [In reply to]
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altelis wrote:
Anybody else?

ANYbody at all?

you are in the wrong forum - go to cascadeclimbers.com or summitpost.org


olderic


Dec 3, 2009, 2:04 PM
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Re: [altelis] Ranier in March [In reply to]
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altelis wrote:
Anybody else?

ANYbody at all?

Rainier not Ranier

Lots of red tape if you are going solo.


tomtom


Dec 3, 2009, 2:25 PM
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Re: [olderic] Ranier in March [In reply to]
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Solo travel above high camps or anywhere on glaciers is not permitted except with prior written permission from the Superintendent. There is a Solo Climbing Request Form that must be submitted and approved.

http://www.nps.gov/...urvisit/climbing.htm


jjanowia


Dec 3, 2009, 2:31 PM
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Re: [altelis] Ranier in March [In reply to]
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It isn't guaranteed you can get up to and down from Paradise whenever you want at that time of year.

I was up there several times from late February to early April training for an Alaska trip, and it was frequently a last-minute deal if there had been snow recently.

Also, this past spring, the road was damaged down to one lane. Due to limited budgets (involving having a flag person on duty), they basically weren't opening the road somedays (I may not have my facts correct on the reason for this, but can testify to the part about intermittent road opening).

That said, Hood and St. Helens are all within a few hours' drive of one another, and are excellent ski tours, where you will be on your skis out of the parking lot.

Just as an FYI, there is a resource for watching avy conditions in the northwest here: http://www.nwac.us/. You can get hourly weather telemetry from various points throughout the Cascades, as well as avy forecasts.

As above, turns all year is probably gonna be your best resource. Also as above, the riding at Crystal is pretty good.

EDIT: Not to be the Safety Police, but if you're new to the snowpack of the region, skiing solo in the backcountry probably isn't that hot of an idea to begin with. Besides the red tape described by earlier posters.


(This post was edited by jjanowia on Dec 3, 2009, 2:32 PM)


altelis


Dec 3, 2009, 4:41 PM
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Re: [jjanowia] Ranier in March [In reply to]
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jjanowia wrote:
It isn't guaranteed you can get up to and down from Paradise whenever you want at that time of year.

I was up there several times from late February to early April training for an Alaska trip, and it was frequently a last-minute deal if there had been snow recently.

Also, this past spring, the road was damaged down to one lane. Due to limited budgets (involving having a flag person on duty), they basically weren't opening the road somedays (I may not have my facts correct on the reason for this, but can testify to the part about intermittent road opening).

That said, Hood and St. Helens are all within a few hours' drive of one another, and are excellent ski tours, where you will be on your skis out of the parking lot.

Just as an FYI, there is a resource for watching avy conditions in the northwest here: http://www.nwac.us/. You can get hourly weather telemetry from various points throughout the Cascades, as well as avy forecasts.

As above, turns all year is probably gonna be your best resource. Also as above, the riding at Crystal is pretty good.

EDIT: Not to be the Safety Police, but if you're new to the snowpack of the region, skiing solo in the backcountry probably isn't that hot of an idea to begin with. Besides the red tape described by earlier posters.

Thanks to everybody. And I know this isn't the best/only site to be asking, I just thought I'd start here putting my feelers out 'cause this is the site I know best.

Good to know about Ranier (woops Blush) and going solo about high camp. That might prove to be too much hassle to deal with.

And I had already been thinking about the new snow pack thing. I lived in SLC for 3 years and skied backcountry with a few different snow safety patrollers for some of the resorts around and feel like I have a really good handle on that snow pack. I've also spent time in the Tetons/Rockies and feel decently about that snow. It had definitely dawned on me that the coastal snow will behave differently than anything I'm used to.

Like I said before, I'm just thinking here. Hopefully I'll be able to find somebody to go with (any takers!?).

And thanks for the Hood/St Helens ideas. I hadn't really thought about those, but I will certainly look into them, esp if I can keep my skis on most of the time...

Anything else people can think of?


jjanowia


Dec 4, 2009, 6:56 AM
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Re: [altelis] Ranier in March [In reply to]
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Amar's site has more info about skiing on the volcanoes:

http://www.skimountaineer.com/CascadeSki/CascadeSki.html


Partner chugach001


Dec 8, 2009, 7:04 AM
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Re: [altelis] Ranier in March [In reply to]
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When we were living in Alaska, we took a Spring Break to climb Rainier in February. It took us 5 days to get to Paradise (roads closed to snow). Then We got blasted out of Muir by another storm and it just kept coming for days. High avy danger, whiteout, gales, etc.

What a painintheass. Mountaineering at its best.

I agree with the other responses, you can get in a lot more climbing, faster and more dependably nearby.


graniteboy


Dec 8, 2009, 5:27 PM
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Re: [altelis] Ranier in March [In reply to]
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As lotsa people have said already. Weather up on Rainier in March is pretty funky. Instead, I'd say Take a lap on the Hotlam Bolam route on Shasta, as a traverse from the south side of the mountain. Up the avalanche gulch mule packtrain route, and down the other side. Damn near completely skiable in tele gear from bottom to just a hundred or so feet below summit, (OK, maybe you'll take em off for a couple hundred on the red bands too) and a minimum of 8K vertical for the descent back down past the northgate roadhead, to wherever you hit the snowmobile tracks...probably out on Military pass road. ..which actually, in March, will be pretty much snowed in. Skate back down military pass road to the hiway. Oh, did I mention to pack light so you can skate? Allow 1 to 1.5 days for the downhill part of this deal. The Uphill part is dependent on how fast/well your legs know how to climb. Could be as little as 4 hrs from Bunnyflat, but for most folks, probably more like most of a day with Bivy gear.


altelis


Dec 8, 2009, 6:22 PM
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Re: [graniteboy] Ranier in March [In reply to]
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graniteboy wrote:
As lotsa people have said already. Weather up on Rainier in March is pretty funky. Instead, I'd say Take a lap on the Hotlam Bolam route on Shasta, as a traverse from the south side of the mountain. Up the avalanche gulch mule packtrain route, and down the other side. Damn near completely skiable in tele gear from bottom to just a hundred or so feet below summit, (OK, maybe you'll take em off for a couple hundred on the red bands too) and a minimum of 8K vertical for the descent back down past the northgate roadhead, to wherever you hit the snowmobile tracks...probably out on Military pass road. ..which actually, in March, will be pretty much snowed in. Skate back down military pass road to the hiway. Oh, did I mention to pack light so you can skate? Allow 1 to 1.5 days for the downhill part of this deal. The Uphill part is dependent on how fast/well your legs know how to climb. Could be as little as 4 hrs from Bunnyflat, but for most folks, probably more like most of a day with Bivy gear.

wow. i might have found a winner!


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