Here is a link to a bearing map provided by the NPS.
Camp Muir and Muir Snowfield Conditions - November 21st
There is consistent snow cover between Paradise and Camp Muir. Here are a number of photos that tell most of the story. If you're a good skier/boarder, you can probably ride from Glacier Vista (6,400 feet) down to Paradise... But you should expect some amount of shallow cover and exposed rock.
This image was taken from Pan-Point looking up towards McClure Rock.
Here is Camp Muir. The buildings are buried by snow, so bring your shovel if you want access to the public shelter.
There is some consistent snowcover over much of the trail between Paradise and Camp Muir. That said, there isn't a need for snowshoes though, as much of the snow is well boot-tracked and melted after a consistent week of great weather. What was solid snow last week is now patchy and not so great for skiing.
Most of the skiers and snowboarders have found the best turns between Camp Muir and Pebble Creek. It is entirely possible to link turns below Pebble Creek (7K), but there are numerous areas where you'll have to dismount or wreck your board (this is particularly the case between Pebble Creek and the base of Pan Point). If the warm weather holds up as predicted, the skiing may get really tough from Glacier Vista down to Paradise. As always, bring your 10-E's, emergency shovel and trekking poles for a great hike.
The Muir snowfield is definitely feeling the effects of the warm temperatures we have been having this summer. The snowfield is now actually mostly rock and ice. The route to Camp Muir now follows the climber's right side of the snowfield and at least half of the trail goes over rock these days due to hazardous conditions on the ice. Above 9,400' hikers will encounter crevasses. Some of these crevasses are rather wide and deep so stay alert when you are traveling in this area. Many of the crevasses can be passed safely by staying to far climber's right above Moon and Anvil Rocks. Crampons and trekking poles or a mountain axe are recommended for all hikers at this time, especially early morning, late evening, and any other time it is cold adn the surface is frozen.
More crevasses are opening up on the snowfield. The crevasses that were open are getting larger. Use caution when stepping over the cracks - make sure the lip on either side has some solid snow below it. Snow is still melting so climbers are spending more time on rock islands and bands above Pebble Creek. Please try to stick to the main trail when crossing these rocky sections. People who showed up for Labor Day enjoyed decent weather with a little wind. A skier was spotted Sunday on the Snowfield. The summer slush makes for okay skiing, but it's difficult to avoid the ice patches and big sun cups which currently dominate the snowfield.
As the August 13th post mentions, the snowfield has some icy patches that may warrant crampons if you are ascending early in the morning or late in the evening. Most people ascending during the daytime are able to circumvent the icy patches without crampons fairly easily. There is running water at various spots on the snowfield. There is one small crevasse/glide crack on the snowfield near Anvil Rock that is just beginning to open. This is not presently a concern for hikers but it could widen later in the season.
What is left of the snowfield is turning to ice and rock. Crampons are starting to be helpful - especially in the early morning and late at night. Running water is available at around 8700' near some of the rock islands in the snowfield. Always treat the water you obtain from the snowfield. Be cautious of crevasses opening up around Camp Muir (see photo to the right). A little skiff of snow on Sunday night helped fill in some of the sun cups, but the skiing conditions aren't all that great - hopefully we'll get some more snow!
The effects of global climate change are undeniably being felt here at Camp Muir. The Muir Snowfield is on its way to becoming the Muir Screefield within the next few years. Large sections of snow that you would normally see on the snowfield this time of year have already disappeared. While you still walk on snow for most of the section from Pebble Creek to Camp Muir, the snow patches below 8,500' are getting smaller and smaller. The nature of this snowfield in the late-summer months is definitely changing.
Presently the snowfield remains navigable without crampons. Though the icy sections may be exposed within the next 1-2 weeks, right now you don't pass over any exposed ice. Expect soft snow conditions from midday onwards. If you plan to ascend or descend the upper 2000' of snowfield before 10 am, you will encounter hard snow and crampons might be warranted.
The route remains easy to follow but know that the increasing amounts of exposed rock on the snowfield give the terrain a different layout. If you are on the snowfield in poor visibility, you might find it difficult to recognize some of the common features. Carry one of the NPS bearing sheets if you think the weather might be questionable during your trip.
The snowfield held up rather well through the wet stormy weather we had earlier this week. Since that time the weather has turned warm and sunny which has started to create some sun cups. If you are looking to ski now is probably your last opportunity for some fun turns. If the weather continues to be warm and sunny, the snowfield will start to get very sun cupped and possible icy in spots.
For more information on previous Muir Snowfield reports, check out our archives.