Home > Trip Reports > April 12, 2003, Pineapple Col (5,150') SnoQ Pass

April 12, 2003, Pineapple Col (5,150') SnoQ Pass

WA Snoqualmie Pass
Posted by MW88888888 on 4/12/03 6:25am
Trip Length: about 4 miles
Vertical Drop: 1,930 feet;

In the parking lot of the Fred Meyers of Issaquah at 7:30 am, Ron and I decided that our planned route, West Granite, was a bad idea.  The 'late' start, the south facing route, the mild temperatures and rain were all conspiring to eliminate this adventure from our choices.  No matter, there were plenty of options up the road a piece at Snoqualmie Pass and we hit the road with a new objective: the north facing Pineapple Basin.

This route had lots going for it.  The first being that the skiing began right from our car in the far north lot of Alpental Ski area, where one other car was packing the lot, the mist on the windows indicating overnighters were already on the trail.  We left at 8 am in a light rain, moving quickly up the exit to the backcountry off the shoulder of the ski area.  Soon enough the rain ended, and as we climbed higher the sun made random visits to the mountains now visible all around us.  The views were spectacular.  

We passed a small waterfall and then the angle of the slope kicked up as we climbed the headwalls below Pineapple Basin.  One snowshoer and one skier, our overnighters perhaps, had made a ready staircase and we chugged easily up into the broad basin.  Just at the outlet, we passed their two-man tent set up on flat step with a back porch with views to die for.  Once in the basin, our objective came into full view.  Wow.  To the right rose the rocky mass of The Tooth and its adjacent mini-Petite Grepon spires, and to the left the bulky shoulder of Denny Peak, both of which bounded a perfect snow avenue to the col between.  The snow in the basin was a crusty smooth corn that was slowly warming in the spotty sunlight and we flew up the relatively low angle slope of the middle of the couloir.

As we climbed, we watched two skiers ski off Chair Peaks South shoulder, afforded a wonderful view of their descent from our position, and decided that peak deserved a ski in the near future.  The cornices at the shoulder were disconcerting and the cliffs below the descent were intimidating, but what a ski.  We would have to check our topos to figure out logistics as the terrain was typically Cascadian.

Near the top of the couloir Ron dug an exploratory pit to further our knowledge of the snow pack at this altitude, and we both delighted in its reassuring results.  At the col, Tracker Ron pointed out peaks and valleys to our east, making up names and positions in a hilarious display of disorientation.  Our map revealed our true position and the mountains we saw were our original objective: Granite Mountain and adjacent Granite West.  How ironic.

We also marveled at the perfect spires just to our north along the ridge line, rock climbs abounded and teased summer pursuits soon to come.  As we re-hydrated and ate, a snow squall moved in and the landscape changed into a mythical misty land of rock spires and snowy ski slopes.  The moderate snow perhaps hastened our departure.

The descent went quickly, our snowboards the perfect tool in the slightly crusty corn high up.  We made easy turns down to the base of the basin and traversed out to the mouth above the headwall.  Lower down the snow became much looser and manky, but we could stay comfortably on top, I reveling in the quick easy turns of my short board.  Once we reached the Ski Area BC exit we ran into many day trippers plodding this way and that, and cruised past with smiles and nods.  We only had to boot out twice on the traverse and made it back to the car before noon in a moderate rain.

A successful run and many more doors opened to the bounty of Snoqualmie skiing, the only question: what to ski next Saturday?  

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2003-04-12 13:25:39