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February 8-9, 2003, Snowking

Posted by ski_photomatt on 2/10/03 3:17am
Taking advantage of the clear weather and stable snowpack, three of us headed to Snowking.  Two other skiers had the same idea;  we saw them off and on the next two days but mostly enjoyed the solitude.  The steep and somewhat brushy climbers path went quickly, minds fixated on the alpine goodness lying ahead.  Finally snow arrived at 4000ft, and the transition from running shoes to boots and skins.  The route climbs to a long ridge which leads more or less directly to the summit of Snowking in a few miles and a series of ups and down.  We were climbing southward along the ridge so the descent would be predominantly north facing.  Snow conditions on anything shaded were a few to 6-8" of powder, anything sun exposed had a crust of varying thickness.  Camp Saturday night was scenic, clear and calm, with temperatures comfortably in the teens to low twenties.

Sunday we followed the ridge climbers left of Cyclone Lake to the very scenic summit.  Views stretched from Rainier to Glacier Peak, the Ptarmigan Traverse peaks, Cascade Pass, the Pickets, Baker, Puget Sound and across the clouds to the Olympics.  The mountains were certainly out in fine style yesterday!  We descended the ridge climbers right of Cyclone Lake (and thus made a clockwise circle around it).  The top 500ft were wind blasted and variable, then turned to an enjoyable couple inches of powder overlaying the bomber rain crust.  Twisting and turning, we enjoyed every turn back to Cyclone Lake.  A quick skin brought us back to our camp and more enjoyable powder along the ridge, down, down until the snow disappeared.  We took a tip from alpenglow.org and attached our skis at our waist with tips lashed in front (forming a triangle parallel to the ground) for the walk down the climbers path.  It worked surprisingly well in avoiding most skis-attached-to-packs tree branch issues.

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2003-02-10 11:17:14