For November turns this year, Muir seemed to answer the 'Where to ski?' question. The tutu made three visits to the mountainside camp.
Situated on the south side of Mt. Rainier at 10,188', it's both very accessible and incredibly remote. Muir is four miles and 4,640 feet above the Paradise parking lot. In good weather it can take as little as 3 hours to climb and 30 minutes to ski down. In bad weather you can get lost in a sea of clouds for hours or days. This November, I had a little bit of both.
For the first (and second) foray to camp, I headed out with two buddies. We left a rainy Seattle in the rear view mirror and skinned above the clouds. With a sea of white below, we enjoyed sunny warmth. About 8800' I started feeling pretty lousy, but endeavored on to camp, which I reached long after my partners. I stuffed my face with PB&J and a PBR and really felt much better.
|Breaking through the clouds.|
|Always my favorite part of the climb.|
|Looking down into the clouds.|
We skied down to 8500' in fun, bouncy snow. Looking at our watches and realizing it wasn't even yet 2pm, we stopped and skinned back up to Muir and again enjoyed 4 inches of freshies on the descent.
|Freshies for the sunset ride down.|
Then things got spicy. Clouds enveloped us in a sea of white. Just standing was hard. Skiing was harder. Skiing vertigo is hard to understand unless you've experienced it, but trust me when I tell you it's nauseating.
We spent 90 minutes in the whiteout. Thank you Amar for bringing your GPS. Safely at the car, we decided it was time to find more beer.
|The road to beer was temporarily closed because we were late. Don't worry, we eventually got through.|
Like the rest of the ski universe, our crew headed to Paradise to check things out. Driving through the gate at 8:57am felt pretty rad (we get THREE FREE MINUTES!) until we got to the parking lot to discover we were car number 46.
Yes. Forty six.
We found a place to park, gathered gear, and waited for friends. With a large group, we opted to stick to the "easy" route and go up to Muir. Again.
|Panorama Point dottted with tens of skinners.|
Skinning was pretty straightforward out of the lot, albeit a bit icy. Skiing down was not super great, but not terrible. The upper section was wind blown and inconsistent, although a few soft patches of pow could be found. Then we entered the ice festival section, which was just so, so bad. Then we found some lovely spring corn and all was right with the world.