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I90 Glades

WA Snoqualmie Pass
Posted by Kyle M on 1/11/23 9:06pm

Finally got around to skiing those clearcuts that loom over Exit 54 at Snoqualmie and beg to be skied! And figured out a useful logging road approach from the end of the plowed road at Gold Creek, making for a fun, quick, and remarkably pain-free little tour. Lots of fun terrain up here!




I90 Glades


Skiing above I90.



Map of our route.

You do cool stuff and take great photos. But in this day and age maybe you don't need to post detailed gps tracks of your journeys.   Let people invest a little cerebral effort to figure out the details and possibly risk their time and effort making the wrong decisions.  Just a thought........ 

I have never understand the mentality of keeping things secret. Backcountry skiing doesn't need to be a derivative of surfer culture. We need community in order to advocate for new trailheads, access, and ultimately to maintain our current access as developments at Mt. Rainer and the various ski resorts have shown. The way to build community is to be open and welcoming. Those who want solitude should walk a little further not shame others for sharing their experiences. 

@darin-berdinka I understand where you are coming from. I think that there are plenty of opportunities for adventure that doesn't have detailed GPS tracks. There is not a shortage of that in the winter here in the Cascades. In many cases, I don't share detailed GPX tracks because I want people to have to put in more effort or I don't want crowding. The reason I shared more detailed beta here is because I feel that this is an underutilized zone that could take a decent amount of skiers and reduce our community's dependence on parking in the Alpental lots and Summit West, thus reducing friction with ski areas. Furthermore, I think there is a lot of beginner/intermediate friendly terrain in this zone and I know so many beginners are trying to find simple tours in the Snoqualmie area. I think those individuals might not have the map skills and knowledge to piece together this approach. Talking to people who have toured for decades in this area, Rampart Ridge used to be more commonly used, but has fallen out of favor with the regrowth of the new trees. I hope people return to this area and spread out the backcountry usage.

Nice work. We need to encourage people to spread out. Well said. I have looked at this glade for years as well. Maybe I’ll stop by some time.

Thanks Kyle! I've had a few failed (and some successful) attempts to explore for myself around the pass, from the Gold Creek TH even! It's nice to have a track like this to use with partners who have PTSD from Alpental Valley shenanigans 🤣

Maybe im old fashion, but I tend to agree with Darin here. Fred Beckey already wrote our ski guide books decades ago and when new ski guide books come out (or a website) it tends to just crowd up different areas with more people. This new generation of explorers miss out on the opportunity to learn how to explore, they just stare at their phones following gps tracks and miss the lessons to be learned by ol Fred's creative descriptions. Just gotta head for the "obvious gully!" I personally liked the mystery of the cascades and get a lil bummed out by all the info and the way people travel nowadays. Hard to put into words but i miss the way things used to be...

I don't hear anybody shaming anybody here. I see a respectful exchange of opinion. And that's a valuable thing... it's how we get access to other viewpoints and open things up for learning.

I'm with Darin and AJ...and Kyle. I don't have a problem with this one. It makes sense...and I'm glad Darin said something so that it gave Kyle the opportunity to articulate his curation. Win-win.

In general I do find that GPS seriously detracts from the wilderness experience on many levels.  It's like an annoying third wheel when you're trying to have a direct relationship with nature. Turns a three dimensional experience into a two dimensional experience. If you know nothing but GPS, then you don't know what I'm talking about.  I do know these days it's touted as an essential (another marketing success story); but for me it's the opposite. Not going in my pack.*  Unless there's a very very good reason for it.


*(actually...I've never had a GPS. ( : except for the one in my head... but I do see the occasion where it may apply)


I have mixed feelings about giving out detailed GPX tracks (which is different than posting a map, like this). GPX allows people to follow your path to the foot. I try not to encourage people to follow GPX tracks in alpine environments, especially in the summer, where foot impact is higher. If the GPX track is helping people find an efficient approach on snow and avoid a bunch of BS (like in this case), I'm more likely to share it. I only really ever look at my phone below treeline because that is where I find GPS useful. Above treeline, I like to just navigate by feel and sight. If you are navigating by GPS above treeline, then either you have poor visibility or are not confident in your terrain management... which means maybe you're not ready for alpine terrain.

I do think people look too much at their phones instead of developing a sense for the mountains, detecting little animal paths, etc. For me, finding that sixth sense is one of my favorite parts about navigating in the mountains. But I realize that what I value about a mountain experience might not be what others value. Visiting Europe really helped me realize that. Many people there have never experienced true wilderness and it is just not part of the experience they are looking for. It made me realize how much I value the potential for adventure we have around here. But it also made me realize that these values vary by person and culture.

My intention with this map is not for people to follow it to the foot but just to see where the logging roads are approximately. They're not shown on many map layers and easy to miss! A skier that comes to this zone is one less skier in the Alpental Valley. It is also hopefully one more skier that buys a Sno-Park Pass and puts money into that program, which will hopefully cater more to backcountry use in the future (we are working on that!). Thanks to everyone for a respectful conversation about this topic.

Civil, thoughtful discourse on a divisive issue?! Pinch me. What would happen if such a thing caught on?

Thanks to all of you for restoring some faith, and especially to Kyle for providing abundant inspiration (and beta) for getting out to enjoy what we got around here

Who knew the Rampart paragliding launch was also the top of a ski run?!

Right on everyone. This isn't the first TAY post about that area either, maybe just the first with a map.

I appreciate the discussion.  My two cents is that I am glad I was skiing the I-90 and Hwy 2 corridors in a time when there was scant information out there.  Mostly the Burgdorpher guidebook.  We found such an awesome sense of discovery by remembering how potential openings and spaced trees looked on summer hikes and translating them into very fun winter adventures.  Then furthering our understanding by passing through and standing on top of high places looking out at future lines.  Then came Google Earth and initially it helped to find even more terrain. 

I feel a sense of sadness that nearly everything is advertised in great detail now, whatever season, whatever terrain.  I don't own a GPS, I have many many tattered prints of Nat Geo Topo that bring fond memories.  I partially regret having posted those maps and photos on TRs back then. many were lost in the transfer to the new TAY portal, so I have some peace in that.  I call it the "bread crumb" mentality.  Navigation by cell phone GPS track.  Something is seriously lost in that. Yet, if it is always how someone has travelled they may not even be aware of what is lost, or what they missed, in the discovery.

Even with all the detailed beta out there, many folks still don't make a bit of extra lateral effort to reach some unfamiliar (to them) terrain.  I am repeatedly stunned by this.  Think of "Glades of Glory".  There are so many daytrippable (not all north facing, though) open tree lines like that out there.  I've never been a great teleier.  The tour's always been as important to me as the turns.  Is that the case with the majority of today's BC Skiers?

Two winters ago we set out on a mission to ski exclusively new terrain in and around all the old haunts.  Okay, was struck out a bunch in the process!  Doghair trees that aerial photos made appear like open trees.  Slopes punctuated by cliff bands too short to appear on a 7.5 min scale topo.  Not being able to time SE through SW slopes when necessary to not be curd.  But they were still days out in quiet solitude with a good friend or two.


Using a GPS app on my phone hasn't diminished my ability to get lost that much,

Poster discretion is the way I think about it.  And for this one,  jeesh, it's just a clearcut

I’m an old rock climber that grew up getting lost on climbs following bs directions that only made sense to the guy writing them.  Half the time they were just wrong. The good ol days weren’t that great. When topo’s came out, many thought it would be the death of adventure, but it wasn’t. You just didn’t get lost as much, and you typically climbed harder. We follow skin tracks and most don’t complain about that. How is GPS that different?  Every time something new comes out there is backlash and I’ve been part of that as well. I used to think chalk was unethical, and that Sport Climbing was neither……….But climbing is still an adventure, and all the new stuff opened up a whole lot of big, new routes. I like the fact that climbers can do things more safely than we used to be able to do. My generation did lots of stupid, dangerous things. Most of us got away with it, but not all of my friends and acquaintance's did…

I like the fact that GPS can help find the start and finish of a ski…and help you out if you get lost. It is a real safety tool.  I have never personally tried to follow a GPS track while skinning, but I will certainly pull it out if I get confused. I think it is a good aid.

None of us are purists anymore. We all stand on previous generations, and use the new tools that come out. Many of us do things differently and with different gear. We all share the wilderness on foot, snowshoe, ski, or board. Some go light and fast and far. Others go slower and heavy. We like to think we know best - but we don’t. Everyone should do their own thing, their own way (within reason) without the the older generations always thinking their ways are the best. I like GPS. I wish I knew how to use it better.  But I also said within reason….We shouldn't be putting out tracks to places that don’t have adequate parking,  and that geographically can’t handle more crowding. It sounds like Kyle has thought that one thru.



FWIW:  Jim Oker and I and several other volunteers I've recruited have done brushing along that old logging road to make it easier to follow in the last several years.    This route has a lot of sentimental value to me as my dad and I used to ski it on the way to Mt Margaret back when the clear cuts were fresh and wide open and our ski bases smelled of Pine Tar. 

I've always appreciated that, Randy.  The trail portion especially.  Though haven't been back in more than 6 or 7 years.  I've never informed my boss, by the way.   Kyle M's mention of Cascade BC Alliance made me think that Rocky Run could be a trail access development worth pursuing.

Best of luck to Kyle and others involved with the Alliance.  Many issues that took hold more than 20 years ago are remain unresolved to this day.  I hope CBA gains much support and strength.

To the best of my knowledge, El Sendero/Winter Wildlands Alliance was able to get a non-motorized area codified east of Mission Ski Area.  May the community be able to build on that example and success.


Reply to this TR

Kyle M
2023-01-12 05:06:19