03 November 2012

Turns All Year - October!

This October I completed another one of my 30 Before 30 goals - to ski 12 consecutive months! The weather was....wet....and the skiing was....wet....but we got 'er done.

I went up with my potluck buddy Johnny, who posted an official trip report here and took the photos I'm sharing with you (I opted to leave the camera in the car to avoid soakage). His recap is fantastic and a must-read for more in-depth analysis of our weather/day, but here is my less technical recap of for you:

We left Seattle around 7:50am and arrived at Longmire (a camp within Rainier National Park) around 9:30am to find the gate to Paradise (the official launch point for Muir trips)  closed. We knew it had dumped snow and the parks' personnel were anticipating the snow level to be about 6,000' (Paradise is at 4500', meaning we'd have to hike for 1500' to get out of the rain) but it had dipped down to 4,000' overnight, catching the plow crew unprepared. This meant they were still plowing when we arrived, so about 20 unhappy skiers waited at Longmire for over 2 hours while they plowed.

This turned out to be a real shame, because while we were waiting the snow level was rising, meaning we were literally chasing the snow up the mountain. If we had been at Paradise at 9:30 as expected, the rain would have been chasing us up the mountain. Then we would have only had to ski down in rain, vs. up AND down in rain. Hope that makes sense.

When we finally arrived in Paradise (5th car baby!) it was raining. Hard. And not like Seattle hard, but Oh-My-God-Who-Turned-On-The-Firehose?-Hard!

Me skinning in the rain. No amount of Goretex could keep you dry. You can see the poor visibility.

We started skinning as fast as we could, but the rain never stopped. It only got worse the higher we went. And then the wind picked up, which also only got worse the higher we went. Visibility also started going to crap, and in keeping with the theme, only got worse the higher we went.

Skin Track through the boulders - thanks for laying that in!

We were soaked and visibility was deteriorating, so we turned around at 7100' on Panorama. After wringing water out of my second pair of gloves for the day, we were off. The skiing was...fine. Well, pretty terrible, wet and heavy actually, but we were skiing.

Johnny self portrait. You can see the waterlogged sensor in the camera.

All told we were in the rain for two hours and gained 1660' on our ascent. We reviewed the weather data on the drive home and confirmed our decision to turn back. The freezing level was rising as we were climbing, and even if we had made it to Muir (at 10,000') we still wouldn't have found snow falling on our heads. BUT it's skiing in October AND I'm officially a NorthWesterner, having braved the worst of our elements.

It's a week later and my gloves are still on the drying rack but The Stoke is building again. Who's ready to head back out???

No comments: