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Backcountry skiing photos: Martin Creek, Kelley Creek, Captain Point, Wild Sky Wilderness
Turns All Year: Previous Home Page Galleries
This is a gallery of backcountry 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. These photos are from a backcountry skiing trip into part of the future Wild Sky Wilderness, starting at Martin Creek, up Kelley Creek, and to the top of Captain Point. Kelley Creek contains beautiful old growth forest, and the 360 degree view from the top of Captain Point was spectacular.
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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 24, 2006:
Backcountry skiing, Martin Creek - Kelley Creek to Captain Point, future Wild Sky Wilderness, Washington, April 19, 2006
East face of Mt. Fernow from Martin Creek road
East face of Mt. Fernow
from Martin Creek road
Trail sign at the beginning of Kelley Creek old growth forest
Trail sign at the beginning of
Kelley Creek old growth forest
Kelley Creek forest at around 3500 feet
Kelley Creek forest
at around 3500 feet
Ski tracks through forest glades
Ski tracks through
forest glades
Kelley Creek forest at around 4200 feet
Kelley Creek forest
at around 4200 feet
Looking down steeper forested slopes on climb to ridge
Looking down steeper forested
slopes on climb to ridge
Glacier Peak and old avi crown on Scorpion Mountain
Glacier Peak and old avi
crown on Scorpion Mountain
Monte Cristos,Sloan Peak, Evergreen Mountain
Monte Cristos, Sloan Peak,
Evergreen Mountain
Lichtenberg Mountain, Rock Mountain, Mount Howard
Lichtenberg Mountain, Rock
Mountain, Mount Howard
Looking north to Evergreen Mountain and Monte Cristos
Looking north to Evergreen
Mountain and Monte Cristos
Mt. Daniel and Mt. Hinman, Alpine Lakes Wilderness
Mt. Daniel and Mt. Hinman,
Alpine Lakes Wilderness
Posing on top of Captain Point
Posing on top of Captain Point
Avalanche slopes on the east side of Captain Point
Avalanche slopes on the
east side of Captain Point
Installing the supercharging cables before the ski down
Installing the supercharging
cables before the ski down
Chiwaukum Mountains over Windy Ridge
Chiwaukum Mountains
over Windy Ridge
Mt. Fernow from Captain Point
Mt. Fernow from Captain Point
Ski tracks down north ridge of Captain Point
Ski tracks down north
ridge of Captain Point
Snack break by Kelley Creek in the last of the valley sun
Snack break by Kelley Creek
in the last of the valley sun
Cedar trees along the Tye River
Cedar trees along
the Tye River
Rushing Tye River
Rushing Tye River
Tye River off of the Old Cascade Highway, FS 67
Tye River off of the Old
Cascade Highway, FS 67

Photos by Charles Eldridge
Backcountry skiing trip report:
April 19, 2006, backcountry ski touring, Martin Creek - Kelley Creek to Captain Point, future Wild Sky Wilderness, Washington

    I had intended to try a route from Miller River/Lake Dorothy toward Big Snow Mountain, in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Info from the FS suggested that I might be able to drive to within 3 miles of the Lake Dorothy trailhead before snow, leaving only about 10 miles to Big Snow Mountain, hopefully all on snow. When I drove up yesterday morning, I was stopped by a tree across the road just 0.1 miles above the W. Fork Miller River, leaving 5+ miles to the trailhead, and no snow in sight. I guess I'm learning that I should bring either a mountain bike or a chain saw at this time of year.
    I drove around a little, looking at other nearby options, but there was nothing that I was motivated to do. Stopped at the Skykomish RS to let them know about the tree. They knew. It seems that they'd had someone cruise a bunch of forest roads earlier in the week, with details still on a little post-it note. They had info on several roads off the Beckler River road, all blocked by trees before reaching snow. When will these trees be removed, I asked? Well, we'll have to wait until a trail crew goes up to work on the trails, and it's still early in the season so we don't really have crews yet, they responded. I wonder why the person who noted all of the trees didn't carry a chain saw and just take care of the problem right then, but I guess that's one of the mysteries of how our government works.
    I did learn that the Martin Creek road (FS 6710) was not blocked by a tree and that it should be drivable to snow, at around 2400 feet, so I got onto the old Stevens Pass road (Old Cascade Highway, FS 67) and then drove up Martin Creek past the Iron Goat Trail to the snow. When the snow started, it was continuous, having been packed down by motors, and it was also frozen solid, being in the shade even though it was now 10am. My fishscale skis gripped well enough, though, and after a while the road began to be more in the sun on this beautiful spring day. It looked like a snowcat had been up the road, and I could see a bunch of fairly fresh ski/snowboard tracks up on west facing slopes on the east side of Martin Creek - maybe a commercial operation?
    I still wasn't sure where I was going to go (having brought along topo maps for the area just in case), but I had noted a nice looking ski touring route on the map up Kelley Creek, a tributary of Martin Creek, and then up to Captain Point, 5724 feet. This would become part of the Wild Sky Wilderness Area if the legislation ever passes Congress. There was the problem of crossing Martin Creek, as I was on the wrong side for Kelley Creek and the snowpack wasn't that deep here, but the map showed a logging road crossing so I decided to look for that. After one dead end side road I found the bridge and continued along the road toward the opening to the Kelley Creek valley. Several avalanche chutes came down the south slopes above, including one big one that had clearly slid more than once, covering the road with huge ridges of debris. Past that chute the road began to be more overgrown and there were a couple of spots of tight trees that were difficult to get through, but eventually I came to the end of the road and clearcut and the beginning of what looked like very nice old growth forest, about 3100 feet. Right there was a little sign nailed to a tree that simply said "Trail", with an arrow pointing across the fairly deep ravine of Kelley Creek. Yet another example of a trail the use and memory of which has been lost to a clearcut?
    I stayed on skier's right of Kelley Creek all the way up. There was no easy way to cross the ravine but it turned out that was not necessary anyway. The snowpack in the forest was ample and quickly increased, and the big trees were spaced well apart. A very beautiful forest with sun spots coming through in places. At first there was just a little dusting of new snow in the micro-glades beween the trees, but this increased so that when I reached some meadows around 4000 feet there was 1-3 inches of the new snow under trees and about 6 inches in the open. The snow had refrozen but by now it was softening quite a bit, and sometimes the 3-4 inch crust would break in plates under my skis.
    After some lunch in the warm meadow I continued up the valley. I started climbing more through very consistent big tree forest and looking for the right turn up moderately steep slopes that would lead to the north ridge of Captain Point. At around 4400 feet I was pretty sure I had found the right place, so I put on skins and headed up. By now even the harder snow right under the trees was softening and I tried to climb on that since it was easier than breaking trail in the growing glades (with their 6 inches of new snow over a weakening crust over a bunch of large-grained mush). I reached the ridge at a saddle around 5100 feet and headed south up the ridge, which was broad and without overhanging cornices. The new snow got substantially deeper and in some places was ready to slide, but I could avoid the steeper sides by staying on the ridge.
    Pretty soon I was on top of Captain Point. Wow, it seemed like the center of the mountain universe! With only one close-by peak being higher (Mt. Fernow to the SW at 6190) there was a spectacular 360 degree view. Monte Cristos, Glacier Peak, Chiwaukums, Stuart Range, Daniel and Hinman, the main Alpine Lakes peaks (Summit Chief, Lemah, Overcoat etc), Index and Persis, and the possible future Sky Wilderness peaks of Gunn/Merchant/Baring. It was very pleasant on top, with very little wind, and I ended up staying for about an hour (from 3 to 4pm). It was fun to toss snowballs down the north slope and watch them quickly grow into narrow 5 foot diameter pinwheels before shattering and creating a whole bunch of new pinwheels. I decided to walk a little way down the south ridge and found that the SE facing slopes below had been avalanching big time. It looked like a layer of new snow 12-18 inches deep had been sliding 600 feet down into the bowl below, and there were huge chunky piles of debris at the bottom. There was still plenty of snow which hadn't slid, though, so more snowballs over the edge for entertainment. I also find it pretty informative to see, from a safe vantage point, how the snow actually starts to slide, how it entrains more snow, and how quickly and powerfully the snow slides.
    After all of that fun, it was time for the 1800 foot run back down to Kelley Creek. I wasn't expecting this to be great, with the combination of a variety of spring snows, not including corn, and my joke tele boots, but I added the cables and started back down the north ridge, sometimes dropping to the east side to avoid wind rolls. Most of this was actually pretty nice, with some turns here and there but mostly just downward traversing, and my ski cuts set off very little in the way of pinwheels. A little ridge touring brought me to the saddle and then I followed the general route of my climb up out of the valley. Here the best turns were under the trees, softened with not too much new snow, while the glades were deep mush. The most fun, though, was below 4400 feet, where I could start using the vertical to glide down the valley. Fast under the trees, mushy in the open, very few turns, but a fast and enjoyable way to get back to the logging road.
    After I crossed the bridge over Martin Creek and rejoined the main logging road, I found that two snomos had recently been up the road, and this made the ski back to the car a joy because they had mashed down the saturated surface snow and their tracks were fast for skating and gliding. About five minutes after I got back to the car the snomo guys arrived, so I went to thank them for the grooming. Nice guys, up for some riding after work (they had started at 5pm but one machine had broken a water pump belt so they bailed). They confirmed that there has been a snowcat operation doing trips up that valley this year. On the drive back I stopped along the old Stevens Pass road (Old Cascade Highway, FS 67) and walked down to the Tye River. At 1800 feet it is such a completely different world, green upon green upon green.
   Charles

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