Muir Snowfield from Cathedral Gap, Elevation 10,800ft
October 15, 2001
My only rest, halfway up the Muir Snowfield in mid-October.
Pleased with my turns from the previous month, I decided to return to Rainier for a solo ski to Camp Muir. The parking lot at Paradise was still bare but I hit snow a short ways up the paved trail. It was spotty until I reached the snowfield at Pebble Creek. Tennis shoes were still the method of choice and I made it to Camp Muir in 2 hours and 10 minutes.
I ended up chilling at Muir for about 30 minutes. Some climber asked me if I was going further. He said the skiing looked good up higher. I told him no but changed my mind after skiing a short ways down. It was still early and the people I had passed near Paradise were nowhere to be seen. I repacked my skis and headed back up. I reached Muir within 10 minutes and continued higher across the Cowlitz Glacier. I followed some tracks from climbers who made a summit attempt that morning. Still I was by myself in the middle of a glacier without a rope, crampons or ice axe. This was the wrong time of year to be testing snowbridges although I felt no fear at the time. I made it to Cathedral Gap in no time and ended up hiking a little higher for a photo.
My gear at Camp Muir. Cathedral Gap is on the right horizon.
A look at the upper mountain from my highpoint above Cathedral Gap.
A look at Camp Muir from Cathedral Gap.
The ski back to Muir was excellent. The steeps below Cathedral Gap provided a welcomed contrast to the expected flats. The ski below Muir was just as welcomed with butter snow and beautiful weather. I took my skis off at Pebble Creek and hiked the remaining trail in my scarpas. The base was still thin but that was about to change.