Fresh snow and cold weather has definitely taken hold on the snowfield. There's no longer a boot-pack to and from Camp Muir since the guided climbs have ceased for the summer. Wands this time of year are sporadic at best. Please bring and know how to use a GPS and set a track log if you decide to hike to Camp Muir in the winter! The toilet at Panorama Point is still open, but will close sometime in late-October.
Fall is here - and maybe winter too! If you are headed to Camp Muir, please remember to be prepared for highly variable weather conditions, as the Muir Corridor can be very challenging to descend in low visibility or whiteout conditions. Get a good forecast before you leave, and take the appropriate equipment to help you navigate back to Paradise. Setting a GPS track on your way up will ensure you have a track to follow back down. New snow may obscure the route, and other people's boot/ski tracks may not be headed in the best direction, so don't rely on following others. It may be beautiful at Camp Muir (see webcam), which is often above a sea of clouds, but it can closely resemble the inside of a pingpong ball lower on the route...
Hot weather continues to change the face of Muir snowfield. New rock outcroppings are starting to take shape and become more prominent features of the landscape. This time of year it can become increasing hard to navigate in conditions where poor visibility can make one rock pile look like the next. Make sure you always have a way to navigate home (GPS). If you're a map and compass person, make sure to stop by the CIC to pick up a bearing map sheet of the snowfield.
|Muir Snowfield from the upper Mountain|
With all the recent warm weather the snowfield has become very sun cupped with a nice dusting of volcanic grit on the upper layer. It's sad to say, but the snowfield has very poor skiing conditions once we hit August. There are still no crevasses or glacial ice that have made themselves known. Make sure to pack sunscreen and water up to Camp Muir as there is no source of drinkable water other than melting snow. If you do get a permit to camp on the snowfield, make sure you are camping an a snow platform rather than on the rocks.
Even with all the recent high pressure, remember that the conditions can change quicker than you can imagine. Please come prepared with warm clothing and equipment to navigate in a whiteout if visibility decreases.
Please make a point to pack out your blue bags and all your trash. The Rangers here try their best to pack out the trash they find, but we need your help. If you find micro trash or wrappers or the like on the Muir Snowfield, please make a point pack it out (even if it is not yours). Its up to all of us to keep out park free from litter.
The Muir Snowfield is still holding together and no crevasses are readily apparent above Pebble Creek, but with the hot temps and sunshine in late-July, they'll be here soon. Please remember to camp on the snow if your party gets a permit for the "Muir Snowfield" instead of Camp Muir. Camping on rocks destroys the micro-flora and creates unsightly tent rings and contributes to trash being left behind.
Also - don't forget both hot-weather gear AND cold-weather gear this time of year. Lots of hikers have been forgetting their sunglasses which can damage eyes! Please remember to wear sunglasses! Also, just because the daylight hours are warm - it can still snow in July. Bring the parka and hat in case a storm rolls in, and a way to navigate back to the parking lot in a white-out.
The approach to Camp Muir and the Muir Snowfield is still slowly melting out. The trail system to pebble creek is mostly dirt but still has some snow patches along the way.
Many social trails develop around these melt out zones and seen in the picture to the right. These trails can cause irreversible damage to flora and fauna and create erosion problems that are difficult to fix. Please be mindful in these melt out zones and look for signs or the best path that will keep you on the trail and cause the lease amount of damage.
The Muir snowfield is well traveled but not always well marked. The guide services maintain wands that can be use to help lead the way during white out type conditions, but they are few and far between.
Other wands can be found on the snowfield as well. Some are from old trails or independent groups, or moved from kids playing in the snow on a sunny day. Make sure to have your GPS handy and don't assume that the wand you see in the snow is leading you the direction you want to go.
There have been no reports of glide cracks showing up yet. Skiing is still continuous form Muir to Pebble Creek but is rugged and bumpy. Don't forget your sunglasses and sun screen and remember to bring enough water for the trip back down to Paradise
The Muir snowfield is still in typical shape for early to mid July. After a very hot month of May, the June storms and cool temperatures slowed the melting on the snowfield. Unfortunately, for all you skiers and boarders out there, the melt off has still been happening quickly in the Paradise meadows.
The trail from the parking lot in Paradise is completely snow free for the first one half to one mile. From this point, up near Alta Vista, the snow is quite patchy with large swaths of the trail being melted out. With that said, please try and stay on the trail as it meanders in and out of the snow. The vegetation is particularly vulnerable when it is first melting out of the snow after a long winter. Above Alta Vista leading to Pan Point and Pebble Creek there are a few large patches of snow hanging in there, but they are going fast.
Once to Pebble Creek, the snow is continuous all the way to Muir, with a well worn boot track much of the way. The snow surface of late is becoming quite textured, with small sun cups developing on much of the snowfield. There are many sporadic wands marking various paths heading to Muir. Please do not rely on these wands for navigation, as you do not know who placed them, or where they were heading. Wands are a great tool for poor weather, but if your team chooses to place wands along the route to Camp Muir, please remove them on your way down!
For those hearty souls that do not want to hang up their skis for the summer, it is still feasible to get a couple thousand vertical in from Camp Muir down to Pebble Creek, and with the current weather pattern the skiing may get a nice little reset back to smooth conditions. Please keep in mind that though it is July, the weather forecast for this weekend calls for freezing levels down to 6500 feet at times, with precipitation, low visibility and winds. A rather winter like weekend! So if you are planning to come search for some summer powder on the Muir Snowfield, please be prepared for a variety of conditions, and have the proper tools to navigate in low visibility conditions. Who knows, maybe winter isn't over just yet on our favorite local volcano!
|Muir Snowfield from Camp Muir|
|View of Panorama Point|
|View of Pebble Creek|
The snowfield has been holding strong even with all the warm weather early this season, Small sun cups are starting to develop, but the climber's boot pack has consolidated quite a bit and traveling to and from Camp Muir is practical even without snow-flotation. Currently wands are few and far between so be sure to bring a GPS unit and know how to use it.
The summer route (the switchback from Glacier Vista back to Panorama Point) has been kicked in and is the current standard route up to Pebble Creek. Be cautious of fragile meadows just beginning to melt out. It might just look like a patch of rocks and mud, but by late-July, if the soil patches haven't been trampled, alpine flowers bloom and make the mountain smell much better.
Day-hikers do not need a permit to hike the snowfield. Hikers who plan on spending the night are required to get a permit in-person at a ranger station. Climbers need both a permit AND a climbing pass.
The consistent sunny days and warm temps has produced some major snow melt. The winter route is still in going up Panorama Point but not for long. Expect to see a change over to the summer route in the next few weeks. Many fragile alpine flora and fauna are now becoming exposed on the approach, so please respect these areas and steer clear. This is the time of year where may of these newly exposed zones get trampled by visitors causing social trails and erosion damaged that can take years to regenerate.
Skiers and climbers have been out and about on the snowfield over the last couple of weeks due to the GREAT weather we've had. There's still plenty of snow and skiers can get all the way to and from Muir without taking their skis off to hoof it. Please be cautious of the fragile meadows as they begin to melt out. The flowers have such a short growing season that any trampling sets them back more than the flowers you trample on your lawns...
The "winter" route is still the most popular route to get to Camp Muir. Teams have been ascending directly up Panorama Face and skirting from there over towards McClure Rock and finally up through Moon Rocks to get to Camp Muir. The "summer" route and switchback to get up to Pebble Creek hasn't been kicked in yet.
Make sure to come prepared - especially with the early season storm potential. It's still May and the Pacific Northwest can kick out the jams this time of year. Storms can roll in with little warning so be sure to have a method of getting back to the parking lot (this means have a GPS, extra batteries, set a track log, and be dialed in with how to use it).
Day hikers do not need a permit for the snowfield. Hiker and skiers that plan to spend the night at Camp Muir do need a permit. And finally, Climbers need a permit AND a climbing pass. See the permits and registration link above for more info.
Wednesday, April 20th
Current photo of the route. More to come soon.
For 2015 route conditions and information follow this link: Muir Snowfield 2015