Up to Panorama Point! Linda, Doerte, Mike Beck. This was our best view of the day. Actually, it was our only view. It lasted just a few minutes.
Muir Snowfield Ski descent on Mount Rainier!



Muir Snowfield 7,900' May 15, 2004



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Camp Muir is always a great winter adventure, or training trip in the spring. In May the snow is firm enough to enable folks to boot up easily. Camp Muir to Paradise makes for a great ski descent. Many groups head out on the Nisqually Glacier to do their glacier practice.

Our day was forecast to be "partly cloudy". Linda, Mike Beck, Mike, and Doerte easily met up in the Paradise Parking lot. We looked for James Fishburn and Gabe, but could not locate them despite talking to every folks at every Subaru in the parking lot!

We set off shortly after 9 am in mostly cloudy conditions, booting up the well established trail in the snow. Mike confidently predicted we would soon get above the thin marine layer of clouds.

Going up the steep section to Panorama Point everyone went straight up. Panorama Point was starting to melt out. The Park Service has the rocky areas roped off to protect the Heather and other fragile vegetation that is just beginning to appear. Some days it can be extremely windy and icy but on this day it was just cloudy. Since we had no view, we kept going. The route was well wanded all the way from Paradise.

Above Panorama Point there can be great views of Anvil Rock, 9,548, and Gibraltar Rock at 12,660. Looking the other way is the Tatoosh Range the Pinnacle Plummer Saddle. We saw several climbing parties heading for Camp Muir, but with the bad weather, no one could realistically think about a summit attempt.

The clouds and fog soon turned to a mist, and then to nice fluffy snow flakes. At 7,900', above Pebble Creek, we called it a day. The weather was only getting worse, as the front moved in early. Visibility remained only 100-200' most of the time.

At 7,900' we donned the skis. Linda and Doerte are almost ready to start to ski off into the fog.

Visibility was only about 30' at this point.

Led by Mike Beck, we has a great ski down on nice snow. Luckily Mike knows the route very well even with the extremely limited visibility. We kept close to the main trail. It would be very easy to get lost and off route in these conditions. Many folks have died descending the Muir Snowfield. To the east is the Paradise Glacier, and to the west is the Nisqually Glacier.

Ira Spring likes to tell the story of leaving the warm, sunny Camp Muir, expecting to be at Paradise in a few hours. Descending into the clouds, it took his party two days to reach Paradise! A compass (and having the bearings for Paradise) is a life saver in this situation!


Here is how it could look on a sunny day! (from 2003)

Doerte and Karel Zikan skiing the Muir Snowfield!

Photo by Milos!

In the early days they of skiing on the Muir Snowfield they had a yearly race from Camp Muir to Paradise! It was discontinued because there were too many injuries. Later we discovered that James and Gabe were out too although we never ran into each other.

A great trip and ski with good weather, and an exciting adventure during bad weather. 2,300' 


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