Nisqually Chutes, Rainier, December 1, 2004
After a rather unsatisfactory outing the week before on 6" of refried corn at Stevens, Kevin and I decided to play it safe and go back to Rainier - he had been at Paradise on the Sunday previous for glorious sunshine and 6" of blower pow, so we were hoping for the best. The weather at Longmire didn't look too promising, with mist and mixed rain and snow falling while we sat with our pal Frank and waited for the gate to open. I had a cup of coffee while Kevin intervened on Frank's behalf with a Park ranger who couldn't believe Frank had parked his BMW partly in the roadway leading to the gate, necessitating a barrage of hand signals to get the only other car in sight (us) around him.
The gate opened pretty much as advertised at 9:05 AM, and we beat it up the road to Paradise, where the weather started to clear and we saw a grand total of 2 other cars in the lot. A guy on a Voilé splitboard started up the trail a few minutes before us, but we caught up to him just after the first rise and made conversation - turns out his name was Robert, and he was from Olympia, and also interested in checking out the Nisqually Chutes.
Shortly before Panorama Point the weather turned downright beautiful, and we gazed out over a sea of clouds with St. Helens and Adams poking their heads out. Rainier was also out in full glory, and we noticed that the 8" or so of fresh snow since Sunday had completely filled in the many tracks from the weekend. The Chutes looked prime, so we continued on up to 8,400 ft. to the westernmost of the two major entrances, and Kevin dug a hasty pit to check on snow stability. The recent fresh from Monday and Tuesday had bonded well with what was left of the powder from Sunday. The new snow wasn't powder by any means, and sun on the southern aspects had formed a bit of a crust in the chutes, but we dropped in from the cornice and made turns until our legs couldn't take no mo'.
Skinning back over to Panorama Point, we decided to check out the SE bowls skier's left rather than follow the summer trail back to the parking lot, getting in some excellent turns (and some interesting bushwhacking as well). We ended up at the bend in the summer exit road, and skinned back up to the parking lot to end another day in Paradise.