February 15, 2002, Silver Creek, Wenatchee NF

2/15/02
WA Cascades East Slopes Central
4021
0
Posted by Charles on 9/11/02 9:19am
One of us, who will remain unnamed, failed to sufficiently study his alarm clock operating manual, turning our 6am start into something close to 8am. We were going to go do some exploring in the Baker backcountry, but changed our plans to Silver Creek, about 15 miles east of Snoqualmie Pass, which I have always done as a spring trip with a snow-free trail approach.

We 4-wheeled a bit on a snowmobile-packed logging road, then skied about half a mile across a clear-cut to get to the trailhead, under about 3' of snow, and the start of the 1200' climb up into the hanging valley of Silver Creek. We hiked for about half of the climb, then skinned when the snow got deeper. Climbing up, it was obvious that we were going to get to experience a big range of backcountry snow conditions: walkable sun-crust, tree-drip hardpack, breakable crust, rotten sun-warmed mush, but also sun-softened semi-corn and, in a few choice locations, cold loose snow (often known as powder around here). The recent warm, sunny weather had triggered a lot of pinwheels and small avalanches on sun-exposed slopes the previous day or two, but there was no activity while we were there.

After gaining the lip of the hanging valley, we skied about one and a half miles up the valley, admiring the forest and looking for a place to make some turns. Most of the forested slopes of the valley sides looked a bit too dense with tree trunks, given the quality (and variability) of the snow. We did get in a few turns upon reaching the first slide path; due to morning sun exposure, left turns were in powder and right turns in breakable crust. We decided that we'd had enough fun doing turns and headed back down the valley, an enjoyable glide on the fast forest snow. Upon reaching the lip of the valley, we picked our way back down, traversing, side-slipping, doing kick turns and lots of garlands, and getting in a few more true turns. All in all, not a good trip for turning but a great trip for skiing.

There are some photos from this trip here.

Charles

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february-15-2002-silver-creek-wenatchee-nf
Charles
2002-09-11 16:19:47