On Monday, March 4th, Paul Dutky, Tom Henning and I enjoyed a fantastic day of skiing on Mount Rainier. The weather was cold, crisp and clear and gave us excellent views South over the rugged line of the Tatoosh Range to the distant volcanos Mount Adams, Mount Hood and Mount Saint Helens. Starting from the Paradise visitor center, which is kept open in the winter, we skied up the long ridge to Camp Muir, situated half way up the mountain on an exposed ridge at over 10,000 feet.
Camp Muir is the most popular basecamp for climbing Mount Rainer, situated half way up the Disappointment Cleaver route – the easiest and most climbed route on the peak. Camp Muir is well developed by backcountry standards, consisting of multiple stone and wood huts, a guide hut, latrine buildings and a sheltered snowfield for tent camping.
Our climb was sunny by cool, with a stiff wind blowing most of the day and temperatures in the mid teens. The well worn track was easy to follow and we met about a dozen other people either going up or coming back down the trail. The ski down was enjoyable and went on forever (4700 vertical feet), with nice powder at the top and hard packed powder and icy slopes on the lower half of the route. Thanks to the longer daylight as Spring approached, we got back to the parking lot an hour before dark and started the ride back home.