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Washington old growth forest ski touring photos from Silver Creek, Wenatchee National Forest
Turns All Year: Previous Home Page Galleries
This is a gallery of old growth forest ski touring photos which appeared on the Turns All Year home page in the past. Thumbnail images on this page can be clicked to view the full-sized photos, and lead into a slide show sequence for the gallery. The photos are an old growth forest ski touring trip to Silver Creek, in the Wenatchee National Forest in Washington's cental Cascade Mountains. A prolonged period of cold weather had preserved most of the two week old powder snow in a good state for traveling on skis.
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Turns All Year CD-ROM

The complete version of this photo gallery is now available on Turns All Year CD-ROM. Below you can view thumbnail photos from this gallery.

Turns All Year CD-ROM contains over 180 photo galleries, containing more than 3200 full-sized photos, from backcountry skiing and snowboarding trips in the Pacific Northwest.

from December 26, 2005:
Silver Creek, Wenatchee National Forest, Washington, December 19, 2005
Skining up through dog hair forest
Skining up through
dog hair forest
Mystical Silver Creek Gorge
Mystical Silver Creek Gorge
The east wind was blowing hard
The east wind
was blowing hard
Into a dark tunnel of trees
Into a dark tunnel of trees
Big trees at the lip of the hanging valley
Big trees at the lip
of the hanging valley
Icy Silver Creek
Icy Silver Creek
Ski touring through old growth forest
Ski touring through
old growth forest
More ski touring through old growth forest
More ski touring through
old growth forest
Skiing through a mini-glade
Skiing through a mini-glade
Vince emerges from a thrash section
Vince emerges from
a thrash section
Back into wide open forest
Back into wide open forest
A nice lead through the trees
A nice lead through the trees
Last stretch of climbing before the meadows
Last stretch of climbing
before the meadows
An early glade in Silver Creek meadows
An early glade in
Silver Creek meadows
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Skiing down through
the upper forest
Vince gets a turn in a glade
Vince gets a
turn in a glade
Vince gets another turn in a glade
Vince gets another
turn in a glade
Look at that Silver Creek powder fly!
Look at that Silver
Creek powder fly!

Photos by Charles Eldridge
Backcountry ski touring trip report:
Silver Creek, Wenatchee National Forest, Washington, December 19, 2005

   Vince and I wanted a cutting-edge, hard-core, full-on ski trip with easy access and good snow, so we naturally chose Snoqualmie Mountain as our destination. Discussing our plans on the drive up I-90, however, we decided that "Little Snoq" wouldn't be enough of a challenge, so we changed our plans to ... Silver Creek. We were able to drive to within about half a mile of the trailhead on machine packed snow. The east wind was whipping snow around as we fishscaled along the forest road to the trailhead, where the gradient steepened and we started using skins. There were about 6 inches of snow at the 2400 foot trailhead - enough to skin up but surely not enough to ski back down - nicely packed by long departed snowshoers.
   The snow deepened to 1-2 feet, depending on tree cover, as we climbed up to the lip of the hanging valley at 3600 feet, where the snowshoers had turned around. On the climb up there was breakable crust in the few areas that had gotten sun, but mostly the snow was cold, dense, and loose. The wind was blowing pretty hard for the first quarter mile as we skied up the valley and had even created some very thin wind slab, but beyond that the wind was just a roar from up above. We generally followed the trail to where it crosses Silver Creek, then followed our instincts in finding good leads through the mostly open old-growth and occasional dense stands of trees. Even under the trees the snow was good, with just little bits of ice mixed in with the old powder. A little more coverage would have made travel easier given all of the fallen tree trunks, but tedious sections were infrequent. There were lots of animal tracks in the snow, including some kind of moderate sized belly dragger that left an interesting pattern.
   Where the gradient steepens a bit (read: potential turns on the way back) near 4000 feet, and the valley climbs toward the meadows at the valley's end, we began to encounter more and more ice under the trees. Out from under the trees and in glades the snow was still great, so we decided that maybe this area had been above the inversion level at some point, leading to lots of tree drip which had now frozen. We reached the beginning of the valley-end meadows shortly before our turn around time of 2:00, and skied hard to make it as far as we could. We got to about 4800 feet, just a little short of the meadows that would give us a view of the mystical Silver Creek Pinnacle. It was still pretty cold, but the wind had died down considerably from the morning.
   A quick snack and we were off, gliding down our tracks through nice snow in the meadows. Where the meadows ran out and the gradient steepened, we tried to avoid turning under the trees with their nasty snow and instead hit the mini-glades of nice snow. This mostly worked. Once we got down a little lower there was lots of fast gliding in and out of our tracks, with a few chances for turns here and there. After all of that excitement we still had 2+ miles and 300 vf to reach the lip of the hanging valley. Not much gradient, and in addition lots of little ups and downs since we couldn't go right down the stream bed. We were really hoping that the fishscales would be able to get us up all of the little climbs on the way out, because having to use the skins would not have been fun or efficient. As it turned out, the fishscales did work well enough, and so we got lots of nice glides on this section too. We had just enough time to climb up a couple of cold powdery glades along the way and get 3 or 4 linked turns in the awesome snow.
   Back at the lip of the hanging valley we were able to ski/work our way down the general route of the trail to about 2800 feet before the snow got too thin, leaving us a short hike back to the trailhead and a quick ski back to the car. A nice trip which for some reason always turns out to be more tiring that I expect it to, and from today's weather reports, maybe the last day to enjoy that two week old powder.
   Charles

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