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Holy Diver Couloir 1 way- Alpental to Middle Fork

WA Snoqualmie Pass
Posted by skistache on 3/23/23 9:13am

As peak winter season starts to come to a close, I'd been eyeing the Holy Diver couloir as an objective. It certainly looks enticing on maps and other trip reports, but with a high cost of entry- minimum 3k feet of climbing to enter, nearly 2k needed on the simplest return route to Alpental. What if, instead, I cold combine this with my fascination (intellectual deficiency) with low elevation skiing and do a 1-way shuttle from Alpental to Dingford Creek trailhead, hit the Cache, Holy Diver, and a never-written-up descent down Wild Dare Peak along the way? 

As seems to be the norm, well-thought plans become a bit flexible when faced with reality. I successfully left my car at Dingford, and while the weather forecast for the 18th still called for the warm and friendly spring conditions I'd hoped for, the avalanche forecast stayed elevated, as wintery snowpack from earlier in the week refused to melt out into stable corn. 

So I ditched the idea of skiing the Cache in the interest of time, and started skinning from Alpental with a headlamp early in the morning. I crossed the Snow Lake divide in icy conditions, caught a beautiful sunrise over the Alpental valley, and was ascending the wall under Mt. Roosevelt by 8AM. An early start and a quick climb proved by a good call here, as the firm suncrust began to feel tenuous under hot sun and still air as I reached the top. The entrance to the Holy Diver Couloir is wide and mild, and while the air was totally calm, wild patterns of wind affected snow at the top made it clear that the previous week had been anything but. 

A cautious entrance into the couloir revealed stable but firm snow, and the wide, simple descent yielded fun, if slightly chattery turns. Again, I chose to lop off a portion of my route in light of new information- Wild Dare peak isn't tall, but the ridgeline approaching it is very sharp with a short, near-vertical final approach. Oh well- I'd ski down Wildcat Creek drainage, a route I'd done before. 

A short skin across Wildcat Lake brought me to the drainage down into the Middle Fork- here, surprisingly, was the best snow of the day- clearly sun can't hit portions of this bowl, as dry, light powder was plentiful. Too bad the skiing itself was a slow struggle, picking my way through gulleys and around obstacles. 

I ended up skiing down to around 1900ft- a very Cascadian final descent through wet slush, around logs, and through bushes. From here it was boots and A-frame down to the Middle Fork trail, and a quick trudge down to the Dingford trailhead, with birds chirping and warm sunshine adding to the Springtime ambience. 

Despite only hitting 1 out of my 3 planned descents, this ended up being a proper adventure and exploration of a new line. 

Avalanche and Mt Snoqualmie


Holy Diver from mid section


Holy Diver from the top- definitely signs of wind-effect here


Approach Across Snow- Holy Diver entrance is right at the highest elevation notch on Mt. Roosevelt


Sunrise over Alpental

Adventurous trip.  On more than a few days this season the by-far best snow of the tour has been at very low elevations on what you'd typically think of as the exit rather than the main event. 

Love the sound of the birds in the forest this time of year. Especially that signature buzz of the varied thrush

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2023-03-23 16:13:17