Trip Report    

Glacier Ski/Snowboard - Paradise Glacier

Excellent Ski day after resceduling in hopes of more favorable weather -- which paid off with clear skies and just enough breeze to avoid sweltering and mushy conditions.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles

Arrived at the Paradise parking lot 7:20 to find it roughtly 3/4 full.   

I was feeling particularly cautious after a recent creek snow bridge fatality in the Paradise area.   The more direct route over the Golden Gate features two risk factors:  A) Snow Bridge crossing over the Paradise river that includes aproaching the crossing via a steep slope above the river.  B) Cornices that sometimes overhang the same slope.     After a group discussing we choose to head out via the Skyline trail / Mazama Ridge / Steven's Van Trump Memorial route.    

Once we arrived at the Steven's Van Trump Memorial -- we observed that the snow bridges over the Paradise river coming from the Golden Gate were in very good condition and that there were no signifcant cornices overhanging the slope leading to the river  crossing -- so the extra caution and extra bit of effort for the Mazama ridge route  wasn't needed.   Better safe than sorry.

Skinning up to Cowlitz Gap was straight forward, upon reaching the gap -- I was not feeling great.   The rest of the team was feeling strong and I encouraged them to proceed --  Andrew volunteered to stay with me.     Based on the excellent snow coverage conditions and my prior experience with the route and the several recorded GPX tracks  after a group discussion travel up the glacier was made unroped, but with everyone wearing there harnesses and the two people carrying ropes maintaining good separation.     The group proceeded to about 8200 feet on the glacier and returned -- 8200 feet is the point were the steepness eases off a bit, so the skiing about that point is less exciting.   So the group returned to Cowlitz Gap well ahead of the agreed upon turn around time of 2:00PM.    Nice tracks were laid on the Paradise.      After a group discussion we  choose to return to Paradise via the Golden Gate.     We did use skins to climb up from the Paradise river snow bridges to entrance to the Golden Gate.   

The extrance to the Golden Gate was still skiable, but coverage  has melted out in the center of the  entrance, so it's a bit tight threading the needle .   The Golden Gate slope skied quite enjoyably -- , slightly past perfect corn , but not too mushy.

Once we crossed Edith Creek on a snow bridge (the foot bridge has partial snow coverage  and steeper entrance and exit angles, so felt riskier to me) and were back in  the  Paradise area -- it was a bit of circus / festival environment with so many people.      The NPS personnel were doing a lot of work to manage the crowds and parking  -- with several "check points" on the way up to  implent a "1 in 1 out" protocol for the filled to brim parking lots.