N Chiwaukum Couloir & Superbowl

WA Cascades East Slopes North
Posted by Ross B on 4/26/21 7:52am

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.

Whitepine Cirque

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.

N Chiwaukum summit ridge

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?

Middle Chiwaukum

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.

Very nice. Snow bikes?

Nice report, always wanted to check out that cirque.

We saw tracks similar to those near the top of the Swath earlier this spring.  For the record, this is deep in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness so motorized vehicles are not allowed here.  I assumed they came up from the east, from somewhere near the Scottish Lakes camp (https://www.alpinelakeshighcamp.com/) as accessing via the west, south, or north would be much more difficult.  A quick look at the map shows a quite reasonable and lower angled access from their operation.  Browsing the Alpine Lakes High Camp site, I see that they do not allow general public access to the road up to their location (https://www.alpinelakeshighcamp.com/winter#winter-faqs) which suggests that the camp owners or employees were blatantly violating the motorized wilderness regulations.

Yeah looking at their site the tracks definitely match up with their converted SUVs they use for transport to the base. Maybe they had to launch a rescue for their guests or something like that? I'll hold out hope that they weren't blatantly disregarding wilderness regulations... 😒

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Ross B
2021-04-26 14:52:31