January 16, 2002, Nordic Pass-Silver Peak Bowl

WA Snoqualmie Pass
Posted by Charles on 9/11/02 9:54am
Pete and I went through the standard runaround of trying to determine if there was lift access to the upper XC trails. There was, via the Silver Fir chair, and we stashed our packs at the top and had a nice groomer run down before heading toward Nordic Pass. The snowpack in the forest at this elevation is finally good enough to be able to ski almost anywhere, and the surface conditions were great: 6-8" of loose snow, light on top and dense on the bottom, over a very strong rain crust. For maximum runs we should have skied the forested slopes around Nordic Pass all day, but we really wanted to get over to Silver Peak bowl, so we skied down to Olallie Meadow from Nordic Pass. We found a warming hut with benches, matches and wood all laid out by a wood stove, so we had a warm and leisurely lunch.

Afterwards, we headed up Olallie clearcut, past Windy Pass, got into the glades on the west side of the bowl at about 4200', and climbed to the top of the knob in the upper bowl at about 5200'. The only place the snow wasn't great was the top few hundred feet, where a moderate crust (sun?) a couple of inches down made turning less than ideal. Otherwise the whole run back to Windy Pass and the route from Nordic Pass back to Grand Junction was on consistent, silky loose snow. There did not seem to have been any recent avalanche activity on the steep slopes within the bowl, and we triggered nothing despite creating several large impact craters on moderately steep slopes.

We didn't leave the top of the knob until 4:15, and stopped for photos on the way down, so by the time we got back to Grand Junction it was almost completely dark. The light snow and overcast had disappeared, though, and the stars, new crescent moon, and Saturn were beautiful. Just when we got back to the downhill run, a fleet of 3 groomers came roaring up the slope, so we got to night ski freshly groomed with groomer illumination until we rounded a bend and began braille skiing to the bottom (too lazy to get out the headlamps).

Some info on lift access to the upper XC trails and the backcountry beyond: The nordic center at Hyak/East seems to be "closed" on Mon+Tues, meaning you can't buy a XC ticket and thus cannot ride a lift up; a skier can still gain access by quad power. The nordic center is "open" on Wed+Thurs, but the "nordic lift" (at Hyak/East) is closed; a XC ticket may be purchased, however, and used to ride the Silver Fir lift (Ski Acres/Central) up to the XC trails. On Fri+Sat+Sun everything is "open", and a XC ticket can be used at either Hyak or the Silver Fir. The Snoqualmie Pass web site's nordic section seems to have continuing 2-for-1 XC ticket deals - you have to print out the proper page and present it at the ticket booth, as well as answer a question like "Who is the mistress of the Pub?". Fortunately, the answer doesn't have to be correct!

Photos from this trip can be viewed here.


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2002-09-11 16:54:12