Summer Snowstorm Makes Things Interesting

Leader: "I had checked the weather forecast and visited the ranger station." Later, a surprise. Four inches of blowing snow fell in just a couple hours.
David Shema David Shema
Safety Chair
September 10, 2016

Third Burroughs, Mount Rainier National Park -  September 4

Leader Incident Report


During the time we were having lunch at our final destination, Third Burroughs at about 1pm, an unexpected snowstorm developed. We came back down in poor visibility and driving snow, keeping visual contact between the hiker before and after the each of us.

We took the easier, shorter route back to Sunrise. There was over 4 inches of new snow during our descent. In spite of this we did not lose the trail and all nine of us arrived back at Sunrise safely and in good spirits.

One member had some problems due to shortage of breath, likely caused by the altitude, and she hiked slowly in the face of blowing snow. She managed better as we got to a lower altitude and all the group were patient and supportive.

I had checked the weather forecast at Mt. Rainier prior to our trip and visited the ranger station at the Sunrise/White River entrance on our drive over. Only a few light snow showers were expected so the snowstorm caught us a bit by surprise. However, following The Mountaineers policy of packing the 10 essentials and keeping together, with an agreed lead and sweep, kept us safe and comfortable.

Most of us then stayed for a while in a café over hot cider to revive. A very memorable day!

Lessons Learned

I think we took all the precaution in planning and execution we could. The lesson I knew already but this reinforced it is that in the mountaineers always prepare for unexpected bad weather!!!