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Trip Report    

Cowlitz Gap & Rocks (winter)

Trip date 4/30/2016.A bluebird day on Mount Rainier! Now that the Longmire gate is open 24 hours, we were able to make an earlier start, leaving the Paradise parking lot at 8 AM. We made it to the summit of Cowlitz Rocks by just after 11 AM without issue, taking several breaks to enjoy the views and change clothing and footwear. We used microspikes at first on some steep, icy terrain, but could have done without them. At about 5800' we were postholing enough to put on snowshoes, and wore them from that point onward. We crossed the creek fairly early, at 6200', where the snow over the creek was still solid, so we could traverse the west facing slopes rather than the east facing slopes, which had evidence of several recent slides. On the final ascent to the summit, some of us took out our ice axes and helmets and practiced rest stepping to the top. The top was mostly bare of snow, but there were certain areas where the cornice was still present. We stayed on the bare rocks and avoided the snow completely, hanging out for about an hour. Most of us opted to glissade down from the summit for about 400'. Barely worth the glissade from a timing perspective, but it was good practice and a lot of fun! We were back to our cars at about 2:30.