Muir Snowfield 2013

September 28
 Wet and cold weather, welcome to winter, has arrived at Mount Rainier.  With the freezing level dropping to below 5000 feet by the end of the weekend and over 5 inches of precipitation predicted for the west slopes of the cascades, the summer season on the snowfield is over.  Besides occasional maintenance, research projects, and ski adventures, rangers will not be staffing Camp Muir on a regular basis.  Guide services have also finished up their summer seasons.  The weather ports, client shack, and solar toilets are all closed up for the winter.  Two pit toilets and the public shelter are the only facilities still open at Muir and on that note:  PLEASE REMEMBER TO CLOSE DOORS BEHIND YOU - snow can build up in the door jams and the weather strips can ice up making this difficult, but leaving the door unlatched will destroy the hinges and fill the toilet/shelter full of snow.

Also note that the toilet at Panorama Point has been closed and boarded up for the season as well.  

As snow continues to fall and cover the meadows and rocks the skiing becomes better!  Lots of rippers were up this last week enjoying a bit of sunshine and fun turns.  Currently skiing is only practical above Pebble Creek.  There's just not enough snow in the lower meadows to ski yet.

Keep an eye out for extreme weather.  Storm fronts can move in faster than expected, so always be prepared when venturing on to the mountain.  See weather link above for helpful forecasting resources.  Thanks for a great 2013 season!

September 24
It is almost ski season once again on the Muir snowfield. The past few days brought quite a bit of new snow to the Muir snowfield and Camp Muir. In fact there was a heavy dusting well below Panorama Point. 

Prior to the weekend storms and fresh snow, the surface of the snowfield was quite firm and icy in places. Several substantial crevasses have opened above the top of Moon Rocks, and below Anvil rock, roughly between 8,900 feet and 9,500 feet. All of these crevasses are easily avoided by end running to the east, or the west, but keep a look out for them. Especially with the recent snowfall, some of them have been slightly covered over. 

For this late in the season the snowfield is in fine form, but climbers, hikers, and skiers should come prepared for all weather conditions, and have navigational tools as the weather can change rapidly this time of year on Mt. Rainier. Dust of the skis, grab your GPS, and winter clothing and come on up for some beautiful fall weather and scenery. 


September 7

The hike up the Muir Snowfield to Camp Muir is an excellent fall objective in Washington. The wildflowers are in bloom, the marmots are everywhere, and the crisp fall air is quite comfortable. 

The trail is totally melted out as far as Pebble Creek (~7,000). From there the route follows a bootpack up the snow, weaving between rock ridges. There has been traffic up the snowfield throughout the recent snowfall, so the trail is still obvious. 

Above Moon Rocks (~9,200') there is some exposed ice that is easily avoided by going climbers left. There are also a few small cracks that one could stick a foot into. Keep an eye out for these ankle biters. At this point in the season the snowfield shows it's character as a stagnant glacier and is unique. 

Even though the weather forecast looks great for the next week, always be prepared on Mt. Rainier for rapidly changing conditions. Bring a map and compass (and know how to use them), the Muir Bearings sheet (found on the right hand bar of this page), and a GPS that you know how to use with spare batteries. Some extra clothes, food, and water would be a good idea too. With the fresh snow on Friday, it is a beautiful fall journey!


August 24

The Muir Snowfield has melted out significantly over the last few weeks. From Paradise to Pebble Creek the trail is entirely melted out except for two small, level, snow patches located around glacier vista and just before Pebble Creek. Following maintained trails helps preserve this high use area so everyone can enjoy the beautiful meadows and flowers for their entire hike, don't be a meadow stomper! From Pebble Creek on the travel is entirely on snow and follows a well formed boot pack. With warmer temperatures the snow softens up early, waterproof footwear and gaiters are helpful to keep your feet dry.

There are several glissade chutes descending the snowfield, however as it continues to melt out please exercise caution when choosing to glissade. Many of the chutes now dead end into recently melted out rocks and can cause injury. 

Please keep an eye on your candy wrappers and other micro trash, these little pieces of plastic do not degrade and impact the scenery and native wildlife. The snowfield is busy this time of year, help us keep it as clean and pristine as possible!


July 21

The summer rolls on, and the Muir Snowfield is showing this. The Snowfield is still snowy but very sun cupped. The sun cups and dirty surface is making for not ideal skiing conditions. If you really need to get your July ski on the skier's right of the snowfield will be your best choice. When skiing or climbing on the skiers right side of the Snowfield watch for crevasses starting to open up.  Have fun out there, wear sunglasses and screen.  -698

July 7

The Muir snowfield is in normal summer form, and still is providing a great July ski. The trail from Paradise up Pebble Creek is a mix of snow and dirt trail. Above Pebble creek the route to Muir remains 100% snow covered. Hikers and climbers should pay extra attention to staying on the trail in areas where the trail transitions from snow to dirt. It is important to stay on the maintained trail to avoid creating unnecessary erosion and damaging fragile sub-alpine vegetation. Thanks! - 696

June 25

Marmots and grouse are out and about along the climber's trail.  Please remember to keep your food scene tight as to not habituate the wildlife.  Day hikers and climbers have been using the summer route (see details in the post below).  Skiers can still find some great turns most of the way down the snowfield.  Also - as a side note - the Panorama Point Toilet is now open and ready for use - close the door when you're finished! 

Keep watching for fragile alpine meadow flowers popping out of the early-summer snow pack.  The avalanche lillies should be on their way...


June 15

It's been a busy couple of days here for the Muir snowfield. The weather has been improving between Paradise and Camp Muir with today being mostly clear skies and sunshine. There are a lot of people out enjoying their national park so please remember to be considerate of others. Bring blue bags for your trip up the snowfield  (you never know when nature is going to call).  Blue bags can be picked up at the Jackson Visitor Center or the Climbing Information Center in Paradise. Bring plenty of water for the hike up and the hike down. If you have to urinate please walk away from the main boot pack.  Yellow snow doesn't enhance anyone's wilderness experience. Bring extra sunscreen and don't forget your sunglasses!  

Day hikers, skiers, and climbers alike are having a great time please do your part to keep your park beautiful and remember "Pack it in, Pack it out.  Also - just as an update, most skiers (unless ultra familiar with the terrain) are having to step out of their bindings and walk some trail between snow sections now.  Please don't step or ski on fragile alpine meadows.  - 697

June 10

The snow stopped, the sun came out, and skiers skied! Lots of people got out to enjoy the snow  this past weekend but if you want to make some turns there are a few untracked areas left. 

Conditions wise, the Muir Snowfield is snowy. Snow starts right from the parking lot at Paradise and continues to Camp Muir. The route from Paradise to Pan Point is well traveled but not wanded so if it's a bit cloudy or you are unfamiliar with the terrain think about bringing some navigation aids. The main route up to Pan Point goes directly up Pan Face but then veers onto the lower summer route to Pebble Creek, instead of staying on the rocky ridge. The route from Pebble Creek to Camp Muir is fairly well wanded, but always bring navigation aids when going to Muir. 

May 30th

Snow, Snow and more Snow! There have been some big storm cycles on the mountain the last couple of days. The Muir Snow field has received a combination of new and wind loaded snow deposits in excess of 2' in various locations above pebble creek. The post holing up to camp has been challenging and the boot track has been filling in due to a consistent fresh breeze. The colder temperatures are keeping the new snow is light and fluffy for some great skiing, but Its not going to last for long with sunny days in the forecast and the freezing level starting to rise in the next couple of days. The avalanche danger is still considerable, so if your planning on a climb or a ski that is taking you off the beaten path make sure to stop in at the Climbers Information Center or the Muir Ranger Station and get current information. -697

May 24th

Over the past week there has been significant snow fall on the Muir Snowfield and upper mountain. There is a measured new snow accumulation of 45cm near the base of Panorama point and 54cm at camp Muir. The new snow is unsettled and active on steeper slopes with reports of avalanche activity on the face of Panorama Point and the upper mountain. Despite the new snow fall the boot pack trail is in good condition with portions of the route to Camp Muir now wanded. Winter travel conditions are in effect with variable wind, snow and visibility conditions. Flotation is highly recommended if your planning on leaving the boot packed trail. If your going for a climb be prepared and don't forget your snow travel essentials...Beacon, Shovel, Probe! -697

May 6th

Spring, or even summer seem to have come early to Mt. Rainier and the Muir Snowfield! For nearly the past week we have seen sunny skies and high freezing levels here on the mountain. The trek from Paradise to Muir remains largely unchanged, but the snow is coming off fast in the lowlands. The high freezing levels have made for very soft snow conditions in the afternoons, with little refreezing at night. However, the skiing remains great! Come on up while the high pressure holds strong and get some great ski turns, or a great hike on the mountain. Remember your sunscreen and sunglasses, and remember it is still early spring and the weather can change quickly. So come prepared for any type of weather. As mentioned below, there are still no wands marking the route from Paradise to Muir, so bring tools for navigation. Come enjoy the epic early season weather and we will see you on the mountain!

April 30

With the sunny days and cool nights we are starting to see some spring corn conditions on the snowfield...woo-hoo!  The report and advice from below is still valid for all people heading up or down from Paradise. Come prepared for all types of weather and a full day adventure.

April 7

The snowfield is in prime early spring (still winter) condition. The route from Paradise to Muir follows the standard winter route up Pan Face, then up, up, up to Muir. Skiing conditions were great last week with smooth spring-like snow, but after this weekend's storm expect either deep cold snow, or scoured surfaces from the wind.

There are no wands marking any of the Paradise-to-Muir route at the moment, so bring your navigation aids, even if it's sunny when you leave the parking lot...and bring your sunscreen even if it's raining when you start out. Oftentimes the clouds thin or even vanish above about 9500'....and even if not, you can get burned badly in an overcast.

Bet the skiing could be good.