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Trip Report    

Backcountry Ski/Snowboard - Camp Muir & Anvil Rock

Great early morning ski tour to Camp Muir with a descent of the Nisqually Chute. Pivot from Mt St Helens ski trip due to weather and avalanche considerations.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Route was in good condition.  Longmire Gate is open 24 hours now allowing an early start.

    Ski crampons were not needed by anyone for the skin up Panorama Face.

    The skinning up to Camp Muir was straight forward and the wind helped with temperature management on the warm day and kept the snow from turning to glop.

    The ski down featured wet snow with 4-6" sloughs over a firm base.  Made for fun turns and our early start allowed us to catch the Chute before wet-loose slides became a significant concern.

    The ski out was grabby survival skiing in post-holed snow. 

With Mt St Helens plans not working out for the 4th weekend this season due to the wet weather forecast for Sunday and the avy concerns caused by the heat, we pivoted to one of the few remaining good options for a ski tour which was a Camp Muir/Muir Snowfield tour on Saturday.  

The group skinned up to Muir, enjoying the clear skis, awesome views (including the mountain we were supposed to be climbing!), and a stronger than expected wind that helped with heat management in the warm temps and kept the snow firm.


After eating and layering up in the Public Shelter, we transitioned and enjoyed a few thousand feet of turns carefully observing the snow conditions as we lost elevation.  What we experienced was the snow surface softening 3-4" inches below the surface and otherwise firm and stable below.  Based on this observation, we decided to take a look at the top of the Nisqually Chute for a more exciting descent option.

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We approached the Chute along the west edge of the Muir Snowfield and were able to get a few solid ski cuts on similar aspect slopes in the 40-50% range.  With only some wet sloughing of the top ~4 inches, we made the decision to approach the top of the Chute.  There we were able to observe 2 parties of two skiing the Chute with minimal sloughing.  There was substantial wet-loose debris in the lower "gully" of the Chute but nothing active and the other parties were able to easily ski through the older slide material.

We made the decision to go for it, skiing one at a time with "eyes on" and pitched it out from island of safety to island of safety for a very enjoyable ski.  

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With the Nisqually still largely filled in down to the bridge and 8' of snow at the Paradise parking lot, the snow-covered landscape seems endless and amplifies the feeling of moving through huge terrain, which is always humbling and fun to partake in...and skin back out of!

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