As my spring ski jaunts come to an end, I can’t say I’ll miss schlepping my skis and boots for miles for a few thousand feet of ski vertical (in this case 3,000’) but I will miss the exhilaration of strapping in and descending in minutes what it took hours to hike/boot/skin up. This trip started at the Fryingpan Creek trail head (3900’) in Mt. Rainier National Park with a hike to Summerland (6000’) where I stashed my shoes in a tree and started the skin and boot fest to reach the Fryingpan Glacier. From there it was a gentle skin with an ending boot up to Whitman Crest at 9323’, which offers expansive views to Little Tahoma (from this vantage obscuring most of Mt. Rainier) and views southward to Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams. I later learned that my son was “looking at me” from the summit of St. Helens, revisiting a climb we had done together when he was 12 years old.
The melt off is in full swing, especially after the heat wave we had last week, so it may be time to leave the skis behind and start the hiking season….hello light pack! I took up backcountry skiing 5 years ago and I really don’t do it much, just a few times a year during the spring. However, it has proven to be an excellent addition to my outdoor adventures. In the process I have visited areas on the mountain I would normally bypass as a traditional hike. This trip also provided the opportunity to tag another summit (Whitman Crest) in the park as I continue to explore this gem of the Northwest. STATS: 12 miles/5400’