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Rampart Ridge skiing photos: Lake Lillian, Rampart Lakes, Alta Mountain
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This is a gallery of Rampart Ridge skiing 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. Murky overcast made for generally poor photography but good skiing on a route up Rocky Run to Lake Lillian, then over a saddle to Rampart Lakes, along a ridge, and up to another saddle near the top of Alta Mountain. Photos from a fogged-out attempt and from a fall hiking trip are included.
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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 April 17, 2006:
Rampart Ridge skiing: Lake Lillian - Rampart Lakes - Alta Mountain, Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, Washington, March 29 and April 7, 2006
rampartridgeskiing01.jpg foggy trees near Lake Laura
First try: foggy trees
near Lake Laura
rampartridgeskiing02.jpg Lake Lillian scenic landscape photo
First try: Lake Lillian
scenic landscape photo
rampartridgeskiing03.jpg lunch in a sheltered nook at Lake Lillian
First try: lunch in a sheltered
nook at Lake Lillian
rampartridgeskiing04.jpg looking up Rocky Run to cliffs
Second try: looking up
Rocky Run to cliffs
rampartridgeskiing05.jpg Lake Lillian in winter
Lake Lillian in winter;
compare next photo
rampartridgeskiing06.jpg Lake Lillian with fall colors
Lake Lillian with fall colors;
compare previous photo
rampartridgeskiing07.jpg Rolling terrain leading to 5600 foot saddle
Rolling terrain leading
to 5600 foot saddle
rampartridgeskiing08.jpg Rampart Lakes and Alta Mountain, winter
Rampart Lakes and Alta
Mountain; compare next
rampartridgeskiing09.jpg Rampart Lakes and Alta Mountain, fall
Rampart Lakes and Alta
Mountain; compare previous
rampartridgeskiing10.jpg Scenery on Rampart Ridge
Scenery on Rampart Ridge
rampartridgeskiing11.jpg Looking across Rampart Lakes to Alta Mountain
Looking across Rampart
Lakes to Alta Mountain
rampartridgeskiing12.jpg Looking along the ridge above Rachel Lake to Alta Mountain
Looking along the ridge above
Rachel Lake to Alta Mountain
rampartridgeskiing13.jpg Rachel Lake from the ridge above
Rachel Lake from
the ridge above
rampartridgeskiing14.jpg Box Ridge from above Lila Lake
Box Ridge from
above Lila Lake
rampartridgeskiing15.jpg Chikamin Peak, Four Brothers, upper Gold Creek valley
Chikamin Peak, Four Brothers, upper Gold Creek valley
rampartridgeskiing16.jpg Box Ridge
Box Ridge from near
Alta Mountain's summit
rampartridgeskiing17.jpg Return tracks along the east side of Alta Mountain
Return tracks along the
east side of Alta Mountain
rampartridgeskiing18.jpg Box Ridge from near the 5600 foot saddle
Box Ridge from near
the 5600 foot saddle
rampartridgeskiing19.jpg The sun finally came out Lake Lillian
The sun finally came out;
Lake Lillian
rampartridgeskiing20.jpg Debris slope in Rocky Run
Avi debris on Rocky Run
slope; compare next
rampartridgeskiing21.jpg Fall colors on Rocky Run slope
Fall colors on Rocky Run
slope; compare previous
rampartridgeskiing22.jpg Snomo groomed logging road on the way back
Snomo groomed logging
road on the way back
rampartridgeskiing23.jpg Scenic Mt. Catherine from the frontage road
Scenic Mt. Catherine
from the frontage road
rampartridgeskiing24.jpg New and old joke tele boots
New and old joke tele boots
rampartridgeskiing25.jpg Panorama of the north facing slopes of Rampart Ridge from above Lake Lila
Panorama of the north facing slopes of Rampart Ridge from above Lake Lila

Photos by Charles Eldridge
Rampart Ridge skiing trip report, backcountry:
Rocky Run - Lake Lillian - Rampart Lakes - Alta Mountain,
Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, Washington, March 29 and April 7, 2006

   First try, March 29: My old leather/fabric joke tele boots are going to fall apart at some point soon, so I was happy to find a new pair for $80 to replace them. The new joke boots have a really nice little ring for attaching the gaiter, but don't (yet) have the precision hand stitching featured on the old boots. But...would the new boots provide the high level of performance which I had come to expect from the old boots? Only one way to find out, and this seemed like a good time because no partners materialized.
   I decided to do a little poking around for a trip I've been wanting to do for a while, namely Rampart Lakes via Lake Lillian. The sun was out and it felt like a real spring day when I pulled into the Mt. Margaret snopark, the only car there. A clear night had frozen everything solidly, and I had to add skins to my waxless skis when I started up through the woods by Rocky Run. Very solid snow under the trees, and skinable but only partially walkable in the open. When I reached the first logging road, 3500 feet, I pulled the skins and had a nice XC road ski up to the the end of the valley where the road switchbacks.
   I followed the general route of the boot path from the road switchback, although I made a mistake in climbing too quickly at first and had to descend a little to get across a gully. In the open at around 4000 feet the snow was well refrozen and mostly walkable, and just softening on top. Clouds were quickly descending on the ridges above, though, and that was it for the sun (and most of the softening). I put skins back on for the steeper climb through the forest, which featured mostly softer old snow (up to 6 inches) with a thin layer of newer snow. I never saw Lake Laura because I passed above it to the east (and it was starting to get foggy). From afar the short climb from Laura to Lillian looks improbable, but the boot path knows where to go (I hiked this last fall) and that is to the east of Pt. 4938. And suddenly there it was - Lake Lillian - or at least that's what I guessed because I could hardly make out a tree 50 feet away.
   I found a little nook out of the wind and had some lunch, hoping for better visibility so that I could see the route from Lillian up to the ridge crest and the start of some nice touring toward Rampart Lakes. It never came. I figured I could XC ski around the perimeter of the lake without getting lost in the fog - it worked but was very weird, like floating in nothingness until the next tree came into view. It started to snow.
   I gave up on the idea of climbing up above Lake Lillian, but thought I could try traversing south across west-facing slopes to the Twin Lakes basin, so I started gliding through alternating forest and open slopes. On some open slopes there had been avalanching, including one slide with large chunky debris 4-5 feet deep, but this must have been from Monday's nice weather because everything was pretty solid at this point. The triggers looked to be from cliffs above. I eventually got cliffed out in the fog and gave up on Twin Lakes, but got some nice turns on smooth open snow, firm but softened just enough, down to the bottom of the valley. The lower woods didn't seem too inviting for turns so I just took the snowmobile groomed road all the way down.
   The new joke boots are nice! A little beefier than the old ones but seem to tour just as well. They should hike just as well. When I added the cables to the 3-pin bindings for the downhill I felt like I had a lot of control. I might just have to get another pair of these $80 boots.

   Second try, April 7: I tried to do this trip last week but got fogged out at Lake Lillian. Yesterday's forecast suggested a nice spring day for today, so I was a little disappointed at this morning's murky overcast, but as it turned out the limited sun kept the snow in much better shape that it would have otherwise been. I don't think I would have made it as far if it had been a sunny day.
   I just read today's NWAC avalanche forecast, and it was very accurate. Everything had frozen overnight. Most open areas had a 2-4 inch crust, though it was not bombproof (skinnable, not walkable, and fairly easily punched through with a pole); under the crust was generally from 12-24 inches of mush. The exceptions were north facing slopes (between 5000 and 5600 feet), which had just a few inches over solidness, and in the forest (between 3800 and 4800 feet), where the snow was nicely consolidated. A lot of debris had been shed from cliffs earlier in the week, including some giant (5-6 foot diameter) pinwheels sitting at the bottom of the north slopes near Rampart Lakes, but nothing was sliding today.
   With the overcast and only infrequent hazy sun, the snow softened slowly, which was a good thing. W to SE facing slopes eventually did thaw to varying degrees, resulting in weak breakable crust over mush to just plain mush. Along the ridge crests the snow generally stayed good regardless of aspect due to the strong east winds. The best turns were on the way back: open E slopes between Rampart Lakes and Lake Lillian, and then W-facing forested slopes from Lake Lillian down to the logging road.
   Here's the route I took: from Gold Creek snowmobile snopark (2500 feet), frontage road then up through the forest by Rocky Run about 1000 feet to logging road. XC skied road up Rocky Run to the Wilderness boundary, then skinned up through forest/glades to Lake Lillian. Up a little slot (booted last part) to the ridge above the lake (~5100 feet), then pulled the skins and toured up to a saddle (~5600 feet) overlooking Rampart Lakes. Skied down the north slopes to Rampart Lakes, then toured N through them and along the ridge crest above and just to the west of Rachel Lake. Followed the ascending ridge toward Alta Mountain until it got too steep, then continued N on the E side of the ridge. Stopped at the 5700 foot saddle just southeast of Alta Mountain's summit, looking right at Chickamin Peak and down to the head of Gold Creek valley. The last 400 feet to the top of Alta looked reasonable, but I would have had to boot it, and the ski down would not have been good, so I skipped it (plus, I was alone and had a long way to go back). Returned same route with slight detours for better use of vertical plus a side trip around Lake Lillian. Also skipped the bottom 1000 feet of unpleasant woods ski returning to the frontage road and instead took the logging road all the way down. This was actually very nice as it had been snomo groomed and was fast.
   TOPO says 15 miles and 4700 vf. I used waxless skis (Fischer Outtabounds, narrow skins, 3-pins with detachable cables (used cables only on the return section of 5600 foot saddle back to Rocky Run), and my new leather/fabric joke tele boots (Karhu Convert II). The setup worked great and is really lightweight. I bought a second pair of the boots after this trip.
   Charles

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