Kendall Ridge (almost)

WA Snoqualmie Pass
Posted by fuzz on 5/9/20 2:33pm

Link with photos and videos:

Mike and I had not been out since lockdown.

Objective was Kendall Ridge and beyond (and back), via Gold Creek trailhead to Kendall Peak Lakes.  To the "Adventure Zone," as it were.

What a glorious and beautiful day!  Met in Gold Creek Sno Park lot at 8:30 a.m. (probably too late, though perhaps we ultimately saved ourselves...see below).

We were pleasantly surprised to find snow coverage on the road up to Kendall Peak Lakes starting just a few hundred yards from the parking lot.  Other than 5-6 short gaps where we needed to take our skis off (or gingerly skin on dirt/rocks/duff) we were able to keep skis on all the way.

Snow was hard on the road.  We hoped it would soften up.  Boy, did it ever.

This is an exceedingly mellow approach, at least until you get to the lower lake(s).  Then it's a short, punchy climb to the upper lake (I took skis off and started booting halfway up).

Quick stop at the upper lake for a bite and a drink of water.  Looking up at the ridge, things looked stable.  Not a ton of pinwheels, no sizable wet sluffs from Thursday, which had also been quite warm. 

Very hot!  Sweating buckets.  Summer feels.

Skinned across the lake to the north/left, up a short draw, then back right up through the trees to the shoulder below the Silver Twins (or at least I'm pretty sure those are the Silver Twins).  Targeted the col immediately east/climber's right of the Silver Twins.  This slope had been in the sun for a while and was sloppier and sloppier as we ascended.  Skinned up to within a few hundred feet of the top and then started booting.  By the time we were about 100ft. below the top, Mike punched through while kicking steps.  We could hear -- and had heard -- water running all across the face.  The possibility of a big glide avalanche suddenly seemed very real and that unmistakable feeling of mortality signaled us to go down. 

Quickly skied back down to the shoulder.  Mike still wanted to peek over the ridge, so we ascended to the NW so he could maybe take a look at the end of the Silver Twins rock ridge section.  As we traversed, there was a small snow and rock slide from the snowpatch halfway up the Silver Twins, with pinwheels that came down near us. 

Time to go!

Some fun skiing down through the trees to the lower lake and one nice little chute off of the road (video in link) but mostly the skiing was good just because...we were skiing.

We talked about whether we might have had a better outing if we had started v. early and been able to get up to the ridge when things were more solid.  I don't think so.  We might have made it over the ridge but we then would have had to come back over that sun-soaked aspect back into Kendall Peak Lakes when it was even softer (scary) and/or we would have had to thrash out the Gold Creek drainage (sucky, as anyone who's ever been up or down that valley knows). 

Slopped and slid our way down the road, trying mightily to ski atop the very narrow ridge of consolidated snow left by the season-long skin/boot track, which was hard and fast relative to the melted-out slush on either side.  As on the way up, only had to take skis off a few times.

Hot enough that we jumped in the creek at the parking lot.  Sweet.

More of a fun outing on a beautiful day with a good friend than a "ski" trip...nevertheless, happy that 99% of it happened on skis.

About 5 hours car to car.  Per usual, I was tired, Mike was not.


Technically this area is closed per the USFS Covid-19 closure. ALL Developed recreation sites are closed according to the website including trailheads and sno parks. I have called the ranger stations to ask them why, and basically their answer is "because we said so" I was told to "call my lawmakers" which I have done, and they made it clear that they have no control over what the National Forest does nor does Jay Inslee. I have written to the Secretary of Dept of Agriculture, and didn't get much help. I asked to get a call back from the director of the Snoqualmie / Mt. Baker National forest, but of course never did get a return call. Sorry folks no skiing unless you can access some snow from an undeveloped forest road somewhere, I think the term was "dispersed". 

2020-05-09 23:33:34

2020-05-09 23:53:44


Thanks for the clarification.  

Am aware of the USFS, National Park and Summit at Snoqualmie areas closures but we mistakenly thought this access was permitted, as Kendall Peak Lakes “trail” is not a marked USFS trailhead or “developed area.”

Feeling a bit guilty now, as I have been nearly pathological in my dedication to following social distancing guidelines.  I don’t even go to the grocery store.  And I made a previous post at TAY suggesting that ignoring social distancing rules to go skiing was akin to the confirmation bias that leads to risk-taking and death in avalanche terrain.  

FWIW, we took separate cars and maintained personal distance throughout the day.

Saw one other party on our way down, a couple about a mile up from the parking lot.

2020-05-10 00:01:29

Please do not feel guilty! My god, these Forest lands belong to the citizens of the United States! We're not children. The Government is not our Mom. There is NO REASON why we should not be "allowed" to access recreation in the mountains. The ski areas would allow far more "social distancing" than golf courses or Home Depot!

I guess it's just the sno park that is definitely closed.

Meanwhile there are only about 500 people in the entire state of Washington. that are ill enough to be hospitalized with Covid-19! This, out of a population of about 7.5 million people!! Check out the link from the Covid-19 WDOH website. By the way does anybody know what Covid-like symptoms are? This is the new term Inslee is using to include just about anybody who gets sick for any reason in Washington state I guess.

The emergency is OVER, and so these emergency closures should be rescinded immediately!

2020-05-10 00:24:59

Nothing wrong with being a criminal if it harms no one. I technically was also. Skiing was  excellent today with very good corn from 4800 elevation down on a beautiful day.

Got an early start to avoid the slush. Saw one other person in about 1500 acres. At Flower World later it was almost impossible social distance. Would estimate approximately 250 persons per acre. I definitely wore my mask there no need in the mountains. Would have been safer on a lift. Hope they come to their senses soon. There is still a lot of good snow to be had and I would prefer not to be a criminal. Oregon is scheduled to start spinning the lift next week hope Bachelor is open.

2020-05-10 02:17:24

Cool! I won't ask where, but I would go in a heartbeat.

I will look in to Bachelor :-)

2020-05-10 06:07:26

Technically, l believe that the parking area at the wheelstop on the Kendall Lakes road is NOT considered a "Developed Trailhead" containing the "Four improvements" required for parking at the trailhead in order to require a Northwest Forest Pass. 

Sno-park season ends April 1st in a normal year anyway -- so the area along Gold Creek Road isn't technically a sno-park during the month of May.


2020-05-11 06:54:59

<< Technically, l believe that the parking area at the wheelstop on the Kendall Lakes road is NOT considered a "Developed Trailhead" containing the "Four improvements" required for parking at the trailhead in order to require a Northwest Forest Pass. 

Sno-park season ends April 1st in a normal year anyway -- so the area along Gold Creek Road isn't technically a sno-park during the month of May.>>


This was precisely our justification for the parking and access being allowed under current rules. 

2020-05-11 16:03:52

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2020-05-09 21:33:06