Basic Stats: 4,640 ft of gain, 9 miles, 4 hours up, 2 hours down
Yesterday, Becky and I took advantage of the inversion (and unseasonably warm weather) and headed to Mt. Rainier National Park for my first trip south from Seattle. Since avalanche danger was low, we decided to go big and snowshoe up to Camp Muir!
We started out in beautiful 45 degree weather, wearing only sun shirts and light pants, using microspikes for traction. We saw the avy debris on the west side of Panorama Point from a few days earlier (when two snowboarders had triggered a decent-sized slide) before heading up the steep Panorama Face (just below Panorama Point).
The skin trail was relatively obvious, and we followed it from the top of Pan Point. Midway up Muir Snowfield an easterly wind started gusting, and we layered up as we worked our way higher. We put on snowshoes to get better grip on the icy snow for the final climb, then enjoyed our lunch in the relative calm of the public shelter on top of Muir.
On the way down, the wind obscured the skin trail and piled snow in small heaps, and we worked our way slowly down the Muir Snowfield. The sun slowly set and the ever-changing light on Rainier made it hard to tear our eyes away to watch where we were going.
But I kept us hurrying along because I'd been worried all day about descending the icy Pan Face. We got to the top just after sunset but before complete nightfall, and it looked like what I'd expected - steep, tracked-out, and refrozen. But the steep descent went uneventfully - we slowly picked our way down, appreciating the big teeth of our snowshoes. At the bottom, we took a breath, then clumped our way down the final stretch to the parking area.