Here are some pictures and video I took when Mike, Alex, Helton, James and I hiked
onto the Carbon Glacier at Mt. Rainier... This is pretty much an
annual trip for us in the late February/early March season. The snow is
nice and deep, there's enough chill to keep most people away, plus we try to
time it during the full moon. Mike brings his snowboard along - and
weather permitting, likes to do midnight runs under the bright moon. This
year, it's just daytime though, but he shared his board with the rest of us in
order to give us a taste of what we were missing.
The hike is relatively easy, depending on where you can start. The road
from the Carbon River entrance to the park is prone to washouts, and is
sometimes completely closed. This year, it was closed starting at the
Ranger Falls trailhead due to snow. This added about 2 miles to the
approach. Also this year, the deep snow in the upper riverbed made
sticking to the trail completely optional, making the approach that much
easier. Indeed, numerous avalanches on the upper trail, made that route
very difficult. This year, Helten and myself started a bit after noon, and
selected a base camp on the lower glacier a little after 3:00. The others
were getting a later start, and would have to headlamp. Mike was the first
to show up, a little after 8:30, cursing the scree on the upper trail.
Alex and a completely whipped James finally made it in at around 10:00.
None of them trusted the tracks on the river trail in the dark, and stuck with
what they knew - which was very difficult going.
this link to view a profile of the trail on a topographic map.
Click on the thumbnails in order to view the pictures full size. The video
is in Windows Media for Video (WMV), click
here if you need to download the viewer...
hike in... -
This was the view for us as we
rounded the trail to enter the upper Carbon river basin. Thick
avalanche scree forced us down onto the riverbed, which actually
made it easier going due to a pretty deep snow pack under an
afternoon sun. But damn, we didn't have to use the cable
suspension bridge, a hallmark of the trail!
base camp... - I took this
shot looking back at our camp on the lower glacier. It was
kind of nice to be all warm, fed, and bedded in while we watched the
rest make their way up the river under headlamp. It was
actually worth digging out the three platforms. I also took
this video (4.1 meg) once our tents were set up, and we were
first morning... - After
a great breakfast of blueberry pancakes (courtesy of Mike), and hot chocolate,
we all built day packs and headed up the glacier for a day of
trekking. Mike took his snowboard with the goal of hiking as
high on the glacier as he could, and boarding down. I took
this shot as I brought up rear as we headed out. Looking up
the trail is James, Alex and Helten. Mike is already over a
knoll. I also took
this video (1.6 meg) as everyone heads for a day of fun in the
Let the snowboarding
begin! About 500 vertical feet up from camp, Mike chooses to
do a nice easy first run to warm up. Taking about 200
vertical feet, he makes some nice turns through the snow
dunes. I took these shots during the run.
We also caught these efforts on
the flats... -
At about the 5500 foot
level, the glacier flattens out a bit, showing the expanse all the
way to the base of Mt. Rainier. I took this shot as Mike and
Helten play near a series of seracs. Before they wandered
up, we did make some time to play...
snowboarding... - We
settle in at about the 5800 foot level to toss a frisbee, and to
try more boarding. I took this shot of Alex, in his first
attempt at snowboarding ever, as he tries to take Mike
out! He actually did pretty good, once he threw down the
ski poles! We also caught some great video:
the seracs... - After
we were done playing, Mike and Helten hiked up into the seracs
for some pictures, plus Mike was getting ready for his magnum
opus, the board run from the top of the glacier. I took
these shots while they were standing around...
After about an hour of
farting around in the seracs, Helten headed down, and Mike
continued up. The sun was starting to get low, and a
breeze was kicking up causing it to get colder. Finally,
I was able to get Mike's decent in three scenes, the
start (9.9 meg), the
middle (7.8 meg), and the
last part (11.3 meg)... After doing this taping,
Mike certainly owed us after that!
Once we all got back down to
the camp, it was nice warm meals, and 2 hours of Pitch for
Mike, Helten and myself.
out Sunday... - On
Sunday, we all slept in until around 7:30, and then began the
process of packing up to head out. During the
activities, Mike taped
the ritual drinking of the Murphy's (3.1 meg), whose honor
it was for James to perform. I also made some tape
as we broke the camp down (2.1 meg)...
We finally started heading
down at around 9, with myself and Alex taking the lead.
Mike, Helten and James stuck around for bit at the terminus
for pictures, and to explore some. We got back to the
cars at around 10:30 - with everyone else showing up by
11:00. On to Alex's for pizza and beer - woohoo!
Back to Tom in the mountains...