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Mount Rainier might open Paradise snowplay area this weekend

Post by Jeff Mayor / The News Tribune on Dec. 30, 2011 at 1:06 pm with No Comments »
December 30, 2011 1:06 pm

There is a good chance the snowplay area at Paradise will open this weekend.

In the last 24 hours, more than a foot of snow has fallen at the popular winter play area at Mount Rainier National Park. The forecast calls for another eight-15 inches of snow.

How soon the area can open depends on just how much snow falls, said Chuck Young, the park’s chief ranger.

Crews will not start grooming the snowplay area runs Saturday until they have cleared the road from Longmire to Paradise. That didn’t happen until about noon today. Once the road is open, they will get the tracked groomer on the slope above the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center and begin work.

While fresh snow had fallen earlier this week, there was some concern about the lack of a proper snowpack. The park likes to have at least 60 inches on the ground before they open the area.

“We were still concerned that once they put the Pisten Bully up there, that tree tops might be poking out the top,” Young said.

As of this afternoon, there was 78 inches of snow on the ground.

Young said park rangers have been busy telling people they can’t sled yet. He hopes that will change quickly.

“Tomorrow will be pretty iffy. If it snows a lot, it will take them longer to get the road open,” he said. “If things go as planned, if not by tomorrow afternoon, by Sunday we should have it open.”

Young said the park will post status updates on it Twitter feed. We will try to monitor the situation and post updates on this blog.

“People should check before they come up, so they aren’t disappointed,” he said.

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