Skiing Camp Muir

Don't call it a junkshow. Actually, do. Because it is.

Ross was coming into town from SLC for our guided trip up Shuksan. But first! His trip to ski Shasta in California was cancelled because the snow was so crummy on the mountain. Instead, he got here a few days early and I offered to take him halfway up Mt Rainier to Camp Muir if he would provide the skis to get us back down.

So we found ourselves in the parking lot of Paradise at 6:30am wondering if the toliets were open and if it would be a huge pain to have to carry the skis up 4,800 vertical feet. The answers are…yes and yes.

Ross had one set of touring skis and one set of downhill skis so we just strapped both pairs to our packs and huffed the whole kit up the mountain. There’s a reason people don’t do this.

The day was perfect. Warm and sunny and totally blue skies. This is Rainier at its best and I was stoked that Ross was seeing the mountain in a good light for his first visit. As a Rainier fanboy, I am also anxious for good weather when I take people to visit.

After getting roasted by the sun in a complete whiteout last weekend, I wasn’t taking any chances on a sunny day on a snowfield. We started the long walk up and really crushed the first 3,000 feet. We took a bathroom and food break and then both bonked hard for the last 1,000+ feet.

We eventually made it to Camp Muir and took a break. The snow was getting thick as the day started to get hot. We strapped on our skis and I prepared for my first skiing trip out in…a year? It was immediately clear that after almost five thousand vertical feet, my skiing skills were going to be dicey. Luckily the first long descent was on basically a bunny hill. We dropped 2,000ft in 12 minutes.

After we left the snowfield, a funny thing happened. First - Ross took off down the choppy snow, over the rolling drop-offs and I took off after him. Then - a wild glissade chute appeared. Ross took it in stride, I took it…poorly. My ski tips caught in the chute and I ate it, right in front of everyone still hiking up. I slid quite aways, coming to a stop awkwardly and tried my damndest to get back on my skis with my dignity intact. I totally failed. Instead, I hiked down the hill away from the crowd and proceeded to get stuck on a very steep drop-off. Instead of struggling longer, I just strapped my skis back on my pack and hiked the last 1,000ft out to the car. An awkward end to a glorious day but hey - I’m a climber not a skiier!