Ascent to Mount Rainier-Moon Rocks on 2012-01-01

Climber: Greg Slayden

Others in Party:Edward Earl
Date:Sunday, January 1, 2012
Ascent Type:No Summit Goal
Point Reached:Mount Rainier - Moon Rocks
    Elevation:8840 ft / 2694 m

Ascent Trip Report

On New Year's day Edward and I went for a ski trip up towards Camp Muir. We arrived at Longmire at 9:15 AM, and at 9:30 they opened the gate for the road to Paradise. We arrived at the Paradise lot at 10:15, the fourth car up the hill, and we were skinning uphill at 10:30. Not long after starting I heard muffled explosions behind me, and, thinking it was avalanche control on the road, gave the matter little thought.

We made it to about 8800 feet before our turnaround time of 2:30 PM. I was somewhat surprised at the lack of people on the upper mountain--only two other skiers (from California) and one snowshoer were above Panorama Point all day. It was a pretty nice day for January on the Muir Snowfield, but I guessed that maybe everyone was hung over from New Year's eve parties. The summit was in clouds, but the snow was OK if a bit thin and icy in spots.

On the way down we found a nice thin layer of velvety corn on the SW aspects between 8500 and 7000 feet, and decided to drop down to the Nisqually to maximize our time on this snow. But the chute we needed to drop through had too many exposed rocks and blue ice, so we had to put skins back on and hike uphill before skiing back down to to Paradise. I also had ski binding problems with ice build-up that took some time to resolve.

We arrived at Paradise at 4:30 PM, at dusk, the last people off the mountain. We thought it odd that there were still 30 or more cars in the parking lot, and that lights were on in the visitor center. As soon as we started walking towards the car a park ranger with an assault rifle directed us to the visitor center, where we joined 125 other people in lockdown. We gradually learned about a recent shooting of a park ranger and the situation in the park. Most people in the visitor center had been there since 11 AM, when the entire area was cleared. After a short time at the visitor center I recalled the sounds I had heard earlier, and realized they were almost certainly gunshots. Others there had heard the same thing and also thought it was avalanche control or somthing else.

We were fortunate that we got in a whole day on the mountain, having left the parking lot just before the lockdown. While sequestered, they gave us free food, pillows, and blankets. At midnight they started escorting cars down the road, and we were in the last group leaving at 2:30 AM--they let people with medical issues, children, etc. go first. At Ashford the FBI interviewed us and we were finally on the way home by 4 AM. We got home around 6 AM after a most eventful day.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3660 ft / 1115 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3660 ft / 1115 m
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Skis, Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Windy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3420 ft / 1042 m
    Route:Pan Point, Muir Snowfield
    Start Trailhead:Paradise  5420 ft / 1652 m
    Time:4 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3660 ft / 1115 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 3420 ft / 1042 m; Extra: 240 ft / 73m
    Gain on way out:240 ft / 73 m
    Route:Pan Point, Muir Snowfield
    End Trailhead:Paradise  5420 ft / 1652 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
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