N Chiwaukum Couloir & Superbowl
I figured I would write this one up in case anyone a conditions update on the exit of the Chiwaukum Traverse. On Sunday Mike and I rolled up for a leisurely 9am start from Cascade Meadows to ski the couloir just E of the summit of N Chiwaukum. I won't sugarcoat the approach. Even though the snow looked promising right from the pullout, our hopes for continuous snow from the car were quickly dashed and we spent the next 90 minutes of climbing and frequently transitioning on the road to ~3300 until continuous snow began. Finding our way into the Super Bowl (aka Whitepine Cirque) was much more straightforward than anticipated and we made quick progress up and to the West ridge of N Chiwaukum.
The mush quickly transitioned over to unbreakable crust with an inch or so of fresh snow on slopes that had seen sun, making for some challenging skinning to gain the ridge. We followed the ridge to a couple hundred feet below the summit and booted the rest, noticing some very ripe cornices still remaining at the top of the super bowl.
The conditions cleared perfectly at the summit, with clouds yielding to views of Middle Chiwaukum and beyond. The summit also had some weird motorized tracks that did not quite look like snowmobile treads, any idea what those are?
With the sun starting to poke out we made our way to the top of the couloir and were pleased to find no cornice guarding its entry. The chute is not particularly long and looks much steeper than it actually is. Dropping in we found awesome conditions for the task, the inch of fresh snow had nicely loaded into the couloir on top of a soft and smooth bed, making for a rippable line.
The remainder of the cirque skied pretty well too down to the road. Descending the highway to heaven was more holey than holy but with Mike's cheesecake on our minds we made pretty quick work of the millions of transitions required to get back. With the number of very thin snow patches we crossed over I expect it will get worse yet with the next warming cycle.
Overall this was an awesome taste of the Chiwaukum range and I would love to come back again either for the traverse or lines on the other summits. There is definitely a high price to entry when approaching the range from the US2 side but well worth the alpine scenery and slightly nicer weather we got east of the crest yesterday.