Camp Muir and Muir Snowfield - 2009

Muir Snowfield - September 23rd

Bring your crampons and trekking poles, since conditons are slick, icy, and crevassed. The photo to the right shows the upper part of the snowfield. Camp Muir has been very quiet lately, so if you want some peace and quiet and don't mind stepping across a few open crevassses, come on up.

Muir Snowfield - September 12th

The new snow from last week's storm has all but melted out and while most of the larger crevasses are still filled in, the snowfield remains icy and hazardous and no longer offers 'blower pow.' Enthusiasts looking for 'turns all year' showed up in droves on Friday and Saturday, but unless they were looking for a cheap base grind, were (I hope for their own safety) sorely disappointed.

However, access to Camp Muir is marginally safer than it was two weeks ago and plenty of day hikers took advantage of cool temps and clear skies to see the upper mountain blanketed in clean white snow. Come on up and enjoy beating the crowds and keep an eye out for fresh blueberries along the way. Just make sure you are prepared for glacier-like conditions above 9000 feet. Crampons and trekking poles are strongly recommended.

Muir Snowfield - September 9th

New snow on the snow field has made skiing a possibility. With warmer temps the new snow has turned into an isothermal slush plate. Not great for skiing, but turns are there. Obvious dangers include crevasses (glide cracks) which have been dusted just enough so they aren't visible from above and sun cups/bumps which didn't get covered. The snow didn't fall evenly and 'blanket' the mountain, but was smeared onto it by windy weather. There are some areas with great snow followed by areas which didn't receive any new snow. Good visibility and a partner are a must.

The climber's route to Camp Muir still follows the right side of the snow field - within 50 meters of Anvil Rock. With the stormy weather don't depend on the climber's trail or wands for navigation. The new snow started sticking right around Pebble Creek. Expect to see drifts of up to two feet deep.

September 5th

Rain has continued to deteriorate the snowfields conditions over the last few days. Climbers will encounter slick ice just beyond Pebble Creek. There is significant precip in the forecast. This snow will conceal crevasses and increase the risk of crevasse falls. Those choosing to travel to Camp Muir should be prepared for all the risks of glacier travel, and carry appropriate gear.

The public shelter at Camp Muir remains open. It seems it is time to remind climbers that there is no trash pick-up at 10,000 ft. "Pack it in pack it out" still applies. Climbing Rangers removed about 30 lbs. of garbage form the shelter this week. This is your building take care of it and leave it better than you found it, like David and Eric from Beaverton, Oregon did. These two climbers packed out 20 lbs. of trash that was left in the shelter by others. Thanks guys!!

Muir Snowfield - September 2nd

Crevasses are still growing larger on the upper snowfield. The icy sections are also becoming more extensive, so be careful on the snowfield this time of year. Pleasant weather can deteriorate quickly and navigation will be extremely difficult.

A few skiers (three) have been hiking their skis to about 8400 feet and making brief descents back to the rocks at 7600 feet. Lots of suncups make the skiing desperate, but if you need to make turns every day of the year, it can be done.

Be sure to read the posts below to get a feel for how the snowfield has been changing.

August 25th

"Snowfield" is not the best word to describe this area right know. Above 8000 ft. the Muir snowfield is a dry glacier, meaning there is no snow on top of the glacier ice. Hikers traveling to Camp Muir should be prepared to deal with all the risks of glacier travel; open crevasses , ice, route finding, etc... The Climbing Rangers would suggest all those hiking to Muir wear crampons and have either an ice axe or trekking poles. The snow bridges covering the crevasses are becoming weaker each day as the afternoon sun bakes the snowfield. Numerous travellers have punched through these thin snow layers that overlie the large holes below. Be mindful that there are numerous paths currently and that just because others have walked there does not ensure your safety or that of your party.

August 12th
Muir Snowfield
Numerous crevasses have begun to open on the snowfield below Camp Muir between 9,200 and 10,000 feet. Although some of the known crevasses are wanded, the intense heat has been melting out the snow bridges faster than wands can be placed. The current trail travels over bridged cracks that are up to six feet across. Use extreme caution as you move above Moon Rocks on your way to camp. The recent rains have melted out a large amount of the snow above 9,000 feet leaving behind exposed and slick blue ice that requires crampons for secure footing.

Camp Muir
Muir is a hopping, bustling alpine camp these days, particularly on the weekends. Here are a few suggestions and reminders for your visit.

For you day trippers:
- We do have bathrooms at camp with hand sanitizer. That said, if you like toilet paper, you'll want to pack it with you.
- There is plenty of snow, but no water at Muir. Bring plenty of it with you or pack a stove to melt water. A jetboil or reactor stove is a great investment for this!
- The winds can put a chill on even the warmest of days, so pack for cooler and windier conditions as you gain the ridge of Camp Muir.
- Although standing wands may look unnecessary in clear conditions, they provide a visual cue in poor conditions. Gather wands not being used 'til your heart is content, but please leave the wands marking the bootpack as you found them.

For you campers:
- Did we mention wind? The winds can blow big time! Whatever your tent anchoring style of choice, be sure to put plenty of effort into it. We saw half a dozen tents blow over while their residents were busy climbing. Snow anchors, anyone? These are effective, lightweight options for staking out your tent in the snow without tearing down the rock wall. (For a poor man's snow anchor, grocery bags are an option.)
- Melting snow? Take a moment to consider how clean you'd like your water to be. Uphill? Good. Untracked snow? Also good. Between your tent and the one next to it? Hmmm. On the hill where people bootski down to their tents? Not so much. One great place we see folks use is on the snowfield side of the camp, just below Muir Rocks.
- Sleeping in the Public Shelter? There is no maid service and the public shelter is a great example of the golden rule. Pack out your trash, keep it quiet while people are sleeping, and cook outdoors when the weather allows. Did I mention packing out your trash? This includes food, fuel bottles, broken gear, ... you get the idea.

Check in with us at the Ranger Hut and say hi! We love to hear from you about your experience.

July 29th

The recent spell of beautiful weather and high temps have brought many visitors out to recreate on the Muir Snowfield. Most of the snow patches on the trail to Pebble Creek have melted out considerably. The snowy sections that remain have well-worn trails through them leading back to the melted- out path.

After crossing Pebble Creek, the trail up the Muir Snowfield to Camp Muir is very well trodden. Currently the path is snow the entire way to camp and none of the crevasses on the upper snowfield are currently open. Be aware that with these increasing temps that the route is melting quickly and the possibility of those cracks opening is rapidly approaching. Hikers continue to carry skis and snowboards up to Camp Muir to attempt sliding down the large sun cups that exist in the upper two-thirds of the route. Current conditions lend themselves much better to standing and seated glissading. (Our own high camp maintenance guru Ted made the trip from Camp Muir down to Pebble Creek in 22 minutes, boot skiing the entire way.)

July 25th

Some major snow patches still exist between Paradise and Pebble Creek. Though most of the trail is melted out, hiking boots are still recommended over sandals.

With the nice weather lots of people have been making the day hike to Camp Muir. All of the snow on the snowfield is consolidated so there is no need for snow shoes or skis. On hot days the snow can get mushy and hard to walk uphill in. Also, at night, the snow solidifies and can become slippery to the point of needing crampons. Make sure to be down off the snow before it's dark if you don't have crampons.

Sunglasses and sunscreen are a must, especially for younger kids. Make sure to have a sunhat, plenty of SPF 30 or above, and dark-tinted shades for everyone in your group while on the snowfield. All the sunshine is nice, but even day hikers can get burned quickly at higher altitudes.

July 15th

The route up the snowfield is in good shape! The trail up to Pebble Creek is roughly 60% melted out, and snow is melting rapidly around Moon Rocks. Although the weather has been excellent recently, remember that white out conditions on the snowfield can develop with little warning. Always carry an extra layer and be prepared to retrace your steps through clouds.

People are still hiking skis and snowboards up to Camp Muir. The snowfield is becoming fairly sun cupped, but decent snow conditions can still be found along skier's right where there is no boot track. Be careful no to ski too far to skier's right as you could end up in the Nisqually.

June 25th

The route up the snow field is still slightly changing. Please be aware and stay off the fragile meadows as they begin to melt out. A little dusting of fresh snow has visitors bringing out their skis and snowboards again.

The toilet at Panorama Point is open. There seems to be a marmot who lingers in and around the toilet. Please do not feed or let the marmot into the toilet - shut and latch the door after using the bathroom.

The wands to Camp Muir are still not reliable. Make sure to bring your own form of navigation for stormy weather. The consolidated boot pack from all the climbers has made the approach to Camp Muir easier and faster - no need for flotation these days. Only in the afternoon on hot days do boots penetrate to ankle depth. Come on up and enjoy the views of Mount St. Helens.

June 17th

Summer has arrived on the Muir Snowfield. The route is still primarily snow from Paradise to the base of Panorama Point. Some trails have melted out between the base of Pan Point to Pebble Creek. Please stick to the NPS wanded route and established trails to protect the emerging meadows. Less trampling now equals more flowers later in the summer. Above Pebble Creek the route is entirely snow and weaves its way around small rock islands. These islands are home to many delicate flowering plants, mosses, and lichens. Please take your rest breaks on snow to avoid disturbing these fragile communities.

The snowpack has consolidated significantly in the last week. Hikers will find a beaten path to Camp Muir. Skiers and boarders will find suncupped snow on most of the snowfield.

As the snow on the rockbed of Camp Muir melts out, the paths around camp are easier to navigate. Please use caution on the Cowlitz, as you are camping on a glacier. Although you're next to the ridge, a crevasse is beginning to open up.

The public shelter and bathrooms are open. The rangers will be on staff every day the rest of the season (except during emergencies and training). Please stop by the Ranger Hut, the stone building on your left as you enter camp, if you have any questions.

June 6th
While Paradise is swathed in clouds and mist, Camp Muir is a great place to be. It is often above the marine layer that rises from Paradise to 7500-8000 feet. At Muir you may experience sunny skies and at the right time, have a great view of the full moon!

The approach from Paradise to Camp Muir is still snow, with the exception of Panorama Point to Pebble Creek. While snowshoes may not be too common this time of year, skis or a snowboard provide a speedy descent back to Paradise (just don't forget to wax up!).

As the snow on the rockbed of Camp Muir melts out, the paths around camp are easier to navigate. Please use caution on the Cowlitz, as you are camping on a glacier. Although you're next to the ridge, a crevasse is beginning to open up.

The public shelter and bathrooms are open. The rangers will be on staff every day the rest of the season (except during emergencies and training). Please stop by the Ranger Hut, the stone building on your left as you enter camp, if you have any questions.

May 27th

The approach to Camp Muir is still almost entirely on snow. There are some barepatches melting out in the Pebble Creek area. Most people are foregoing snowshoes at this point as the snow pack continues to firm up. The route is also very well traveled and most are not straying too far from the solid boot pack. Skis and boards are still good options as well, but you'll want some warm warm wax for the lower half. The snow has been very sticky below 6-7'000 feet.

Wands are becoming prolific on the snowfield and below this year again. Please pick yours up on the descent. Also remember to follow the summer trail as closely as possible from snow patch to snow patch below the snowfield. This way we can avoid erosion and damage to the plants in this fragile ecosystem.

Camp Muir is in good shape. We are continuing to work on ice in a couple of the toilets. Hopefully one or two more will be open this weekend. The rangers will be on staff everyday the rest of the season except during times of emergency work and some trainings. Please stop by if you have any questions. The public shelter is filling up now on the weekends. Please remember it is first come first serve so bring a tent.

Camp Muir and Muir Snowfield - May 16th

Another small storm cycle rolled through early this week adding more snow - about 10-15 inches. With recent sunshine the boot pack up to Camp Muir is back in place, but you might consider snow flotation for travel off the beaten path. This weekend is turning out to be great weather - come out and enjoy the new snow! As temperatures rise be aware of the increased chance of wet snow avalanches in steeper terrain, like that surrounding Panorama Point. There have also been reports of people leaving trash at the public shelter again. Please take down everything you bring up.

The wands to Camp Muir are not placed periodically enough for accurate navigation. Remember to bring your own map/compass/altimeter or GPS and extra batteries. Enjoy!

May 1st

During a cloudy and snowy midweek, the snowfield was quite socked in and challenged trekker's navigational skills. Yesterday brought clear skies to the area with a few climbers heading up on summit attempts. The route to camp is wanded only minimally. The wand spacing is too far for cloudy conditions. Plan on using altimeter, compass, GPS, and a map to safely maintain your orientation.
Snow conditions are fairly consolidated at the moment with most climbers using skis or boots to climb the snowfield. Snowshoes have not proved to be of much help.

April 13th

Camp Muir was quiet over the weekend. Only one group of four climbers made it up for the night. Many day-trip backcountry skiers were seen crushing it. The route to Camp Muir still has not been wanded.

The snowfield received almost a foot of new snow over the last two days. Ski penetration was 4-6 inches this morning. Boot penetration was about knee to mid-thigh in depth - in other words it's hard to get around without some kind of flotation. With the cooling temperature trend snow layers have been adhering nicely, reducing avalanche danger.

Also, a friendly reminder: The public shelter is first come, first serve. There is currently snow/ice on the floor of the shelter (it's not heated), but the wooden bunks are clean. Always bring some form of personal shelter along (tent, bivy, shovel) just in case the shelter is full or you don't make it up all the way to Muir. Enjoy!

March 30th

The snowfield was great for skiing today. The upper slopes (8000-10,000 feet) were mostly wind packed powder and the lower slopes were mostly powder. Watch out for thin sections near Pebble Creek and Panorama Point where a few rocks are still sticking out. Neither the winter route nor the summer route to Camp Muir is wanded. A few sporadic wands have persisted through the high winds, but these do more to confuse than to direct. With more snow in the forecast, this next week should continue to produce great conditions.