Trip Report    

Paradise Glacier Ski - Gravy for the Mashed Potatoes

An enjoyable ski on a less-traveled descent from Camp Muir.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Continuous snow started from the parking lot, and the skin track up Pan Face wrapped around the climber's left side toward Pebble Creek rather than continuing up Pan Face to Panorama Point.  Snow was variably soft and hard, depending on aspect and shade, and the party found ski crampons useful on Pan Face due to the surface texture (frozen-in chunky, carved-up).


    The snowfield provided good travel conditions with a soft snow surface and some rock islands starting to show.  A significant wind (gusts strong enough to almost blow an adult off their feet) helped to keep things cool in the sun.

    The glacier had a few open crevasses that were easily spotted and avoided, and the creek crossing on the way  back to Golden Gate was straightforward thank to being well-bridged with snow.  There was significant wet-loose activity along the ridge skier's right that our route paralleled from Cowlitz Rocks up to the exist to the Golden Gate.


Our group of four set out at 7AM with a plan to be at Camp Muir in ~4h and descending by 11:30AM, and there were plenty of other parties out with a similar itinerary.  We made good, steady progress up the snowfield and regrouped at Camp Muir approximately on schedule.


The stiff wind we encountered on the snowfield was still blasting at Camp Muir, although not with the same ferocity as lower down, where it was strong enough to almost blow an adult over.  We put on harnesses, ripped skins, and briefly discussed our descent route in the shelter of some of the Camp Muir structures.


The skier's left line down the snowfield and then on the Paradise Glacier provided enjoyable corn skiing down to about 7000', where the snow turned into softer (but still enjoyable) "mashed potatoes".  Other than the large crack below Anvil Rock, we passed one other visible crack that was easily avoided.


Turning right at the bottom of the glacier, we did our best to maintain our speed while maintaining a buffer with the ridge line where cornice fall and exposed rock had triggered quite a bit of wet-loose avalanche activity.  (We did not witness any active slides but observed the debris from multiple previous slides, some of which crossed our path.)  After crossing the creek, we booted up to Golden Gate and skied along the trail back to our start point.