|Goat Rocks Wilderness skiing trip report: "For our annual June ski trip, Andy and I accessed the Goat Rocks from the west; the road was melted out to within half a mile of the Snowgrass Flats trailhead, and the trail was easy to follow through snow patches to the bridge (damaged by snow) over Goat Creek. Continuous snow on the flats across the bridge, but the trail was mostly melted out as it started up toward Snowgrass Flats. We lost it for good at 5000', started skiing at 5400', and found a great spot for base camp at 6200' just above Snowgrass Flats. Bands of trees provided shelter, running water was close by at the top of a waterfall which plunged down toward Snowgrass Flats, and we had an unobstructed view of Mt. Adams. Other than fog which moved in the second night, we had sun most of the time, which provided for great corn skiing and easy climbing with our waxless skis, but was very detrimental to the snowpack. When we arrived, most snow in the open around camp was runneled up to about 6500', and each day the runnels seemed to get deeper and be evident at higher elevation. Snow on the E side of the Crest, getting less intense sun exposure, didn't seem to deteriorate so rapidly.|
After setting up camp the first day, we skied up to a saddle just S of Ives Peak and then traversed over to the Crest, to try to answer the question of where we might find the best runs. The answer was "everywhere". The W slopes of the Old Snowy-Ives ridge were considerably melted out, especially on the steeper upper slopes, but still had a number of 1200-1500' runs back toward camp. The bowls on the E side of the ridge were still mostly snow, with 1500-2000' runs, and plenty of connections to allow easy travel between them. A nice run back down led to camp and dinner. The snow was slow in refreezing in the evening, and the waxing moon provided plenty of light for a 500' moonlight run.
On the second day, we wanted to do the long run from the top of Old Snowy down into McCall Basin, so we skied up to a saddle just S of Old Snowy (100' bare on the W side), crossed the Crest to the E side, then skied N into upper McCall Basin and to the top of Old Snowy (last 20' bare). A steep wind-sculpted ridge led from the top down to the main run into the basin, which had several nice rolls and beautiful corn, with 2-4" soft and minimal suncups/runnels; we started skiing back up at about 5800' where the terrain became more gentle, but the snow continued down to at least 5200'. We crossed the Crest back to the W side just N of Old Snowy, where the bare Crest Trail led a couple of hundred feet down to snow and some shorter runs. Heading toward camp, a nice looking slope on the W side of Old Snowy begged to be skied, so more skiing up lead to another run, but then another slope closer to Ives appeared, this one demanding to be skied. This slope, on which we ended up doing a total of about 10 runs during our trip, had the best snow and line of all the runs on the W side, and was convienently located right below a saddle, just N of Ives, which we used to cross back from E of the Crest on the next two days. The moonlight ski in the evening was especially exciting because the snow was really refreezing and very fast.
The third day dawned foggy, allowing a lazy morning in camp, but the cloud deck retreated to the west about 11am. We skied up to the saddle just S of Ives, then up a little S-facing bowl to the top of the snow, about 100' below the top of Ives. A scramble brought us to within 50' of Ives' summit, but plastic tele boots are not good rock shoes so we stopped there. We did two short steep runs in the bowl, then traversed over to the Crest to do a run on the E side of Ives. A very steep top section (steepest I have ever skied) led into a steep 800' section, then a couple of rolls down to about 6000'. We skied back up to the saddle just N of Ives and did another run into the same drainage (not as steep), then back up to the same saddle, over the Crest, and down our favorite W-side run to camp. After dinner, one more ski up for a sunset run on our favorite slope, making a 6000'+ day of skiing.
On the morning of the fourth day, the snowpack was much more solidly refrozen than previous nights, but the sun was again shining from the outset, so we headed back to Old Snowy and the long McCall Basin run, crossing the Crest just N of Old Snowy. Morning sun had softened the snow, but not as much as on the previous run, so turns were not quite as good and we didn't descend as far. We skied back up McCall Basin and then traversed over to the saddle just N of Ives, doing a couple of shorter runs along the way before crossing the Crest and taking our favorite run back to camp. One more sunset run on our favorite slope completed the day.
The fifth day consisted of one more run on our favorite W-side slope, then heading down; we were able to ski down to about 5200', and shortly found the trail, now much more melted out. We skied across the valley flats, picking up meltwater-swollen Goat Creek above the bridge, but we were shocked to find the bridge...gone! Foundations were present on both banks, but no sign of the bridge. It hadn't appeared that damaged on the way in, but could it have collapsed? Wait, those foundation logs look kind of old...oh, there's the new bridge a couple of bends downstream. No fording required after all, looks like our problems are over! Nope...Ranger Rick and his crew appeared, having just cleared all the trees from the trail ahead of us (thanks!), but he was on a mission to punish any and all who might dare to try to get away with anything, including not filling out the wilderness permit at the trailhead. I explained to him that my practice was to fill out the permit at the end of the trip, so as to not let thieves know how long they had to break into my car or house. Although he admitted that there had been cases of this happening, he said he had no choice but to fine us $100. As he was trying to figure out how to fill out the form, I decided I had nothing to lose in pursuing my point of view, and eventually he began to waver, then admitted that he could understand my concerns, and finally abandoned the fine for a warning. From now on, I think I will fill out the permit on the way in, but not deposit the FS copy until the end of the trip."