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Slammin' Salmon Traverse

WA Cascades East Slopes Central
Posted by Kyle M on 3/20/23 9:14pm

Logan and I had a great day exploring out of the Salmon La Sac Sno-Park, skiing a traverse up towards Jolly, over Skookum, the Louvre, De Roux, and over to Hawkins before skinning back on the road. The highlight was the incredible views and skiing "The Louvre Tube", an aesthetic line on the west face of The Louvre. We didn't cross paths with anyone, motorized or non motorized, until we were one mile away from the car at the end of the day. Wild.

We were generally really impressed with the accessibility of terrain and density of awesome moderate fall line skiing. Not the most rad stuff, but definitely worthwhile for all ability levels and epic views of course. It feels like more skiers should utilize this zone, as parking is plentiful. I go into some more detail about the access in my blog.




A jolly good time

The Louvre


Hitting The Louvre Tube



Partying out Hawkins

Hi Kyle,

One of the reasons the area between Jolly and Hawkins has remained so quiet for so long is it takes a really strong skier to reach all that in one day.  Though there are more and more of you very strong skiers today.  Gear has gotten so light and good, and technical ski ability for some of the steep starts is now more common as well.  There has been a movement for 25 years to bring attention to the area as designated non-motorized, though has faded local skiers have aged. The "Voluntary Non-Motorized Area" at the Sasse snowpark was born out of that cause back in the 1990's.  TAY member LarryR skied and camped up on Sasse Ridge weekly for 20 years!  I think you probably skied the north facing chute on the W Fk/S Fk Paris/Jolly Cr divide: Ladybug.  Such a neat line, Larry named that peaklet Ladybug for the spring ladybugs that appeared after first spring melt.  Never having had your tour strength, those northern runs were primarily spring corn jaunts after the Fish Lake road would melt out mile by mile:  Paris Creek first (early May) then Camp Creek (mid May).  

Plum Creek logged Paris Creek in the 1980s/1990s.  That road they punched in had a landing at the east end of a clearcut that I always thought deserved a yurt to make the area more acessible to mortals, discourage the snowmobilers from discovering and taking over the area, and forego the need to camp as we used to.  That window has closed as the road has really deteriorated.  Think of the connection with the newly created Fortune Creek hut in DeRoux.  Then think extending it east to another shelter at Beverly/Bean Trailhead.  Which is another "Voluntary Non-Motorized Area".  Wa-la,  a Colorado style hut system!  This whole topic still deserves a much broader conversation as you mention, "These are questions that must be answered".  The shortest answer I can give is that the non-motorized community simply have not been able to be convinced to travel the extra drive distance beyond the bottleneck of I-90, whether snowshowers, groomed nordic types, or backcountry.  Beyond the exceptions of Hex and Tronsen.  For BCskiers part of the reason is the "Sac Crud Zone"....the low start at a forested 2300 feet and the resulting oft poor snow qual.  The last reason is the relative lack of readily accessible north aspect.  Hence the original designation of the Howson Creek and Red Mtn Vol Non-Motorized Areas also.  Though, those are no longer being signed each winter.  Lots of north facing terrain there.  All this is still sort of a stalled race for broader use between bcskiers and snowmobilers.  I hesitate to even write that and bring attention to it.  Both groups lurk the other's forums.  The snomo tracks you saw on the Paris/West Fk divide must have included snowbikes which can reach much more terrain than even the most powerful highmarking 'biles.  I know a variation of your route has actually been snowbiked!

Through the 1990s there was an advocacy movement to create non-motorized areas in each of the major Kittitas County watersheds.  Legal closures for Cabin Cr/Crystal Spr, Swauk, and Tronsen were born of that movement as was the Vol NM Areas of Beverly/Bean, Iron/Hovey Cr, Howsen, Red Mountain, Sasse Ridge.  Long story on the "voluntary" vs legal closure too.

My original participation for posting on TAY at the time of TAY creation was to bring attention to the bcski community these very areas after our efforts failed to get some of those areas legally designated as non-motorized.  My fear was that once found, snowmobilers would claim domain because they saw so few NM users.  I almost regret it for Tronsen and Red.  

More to the stories, of course.  

Glad you got out there!  Fine sleuthing of maps, Google Earth, and observation to create a very innovative tour.

John Morrow, Roslyn

@JohnMorrow thank you for the great explanation into the history of this area. I'll add details to my blog about Ladybug.

I had the same thought about a hut system in this area with the new Fortune Creek Hut over on the Esmerelda Road. There is a road system up to Sasse Ridge, but I am not sure if it is drivable in the summer?

Interesting history about voluntary non motorized designation. My goal is not to necessarily encourage a "takeover" by non motorized users or vice versa, but just to demonstrate there is a lot of terrain for both parties to enjoy out here (especially for motorized, but I think they already know that). With all the parking pressure at Snoqualmie and Crystal, Salmon La Sac is a good outlet valve with a giant parking lot. And as much as I love Blewett, parking isn't great there also. There is some overlap in terrain preferences between motorized and non motorized, but there are also distinct differences, so there is stuff for each group. We're all going to face the battle together for maintaining winter access with slimmed federal budgets and rising snow levels.

I am well aware of the Salmon La Sac crud zone, but I do frequently start my tours below 2k on the west side of the Cascades, so a little bad snow won't discourage me :) Snoqualmie can be a permanent crud zone.

The 4315 Road is, in fact, driveable to this day to the divide and is gated in the summer.  Known as the "Storey Road".  As is the Howson Cr Road a few miles to the south.  it is short but there is a really fun N Facing line on the western spur summit of Sasse Mtn out of that Howson parking on the Sac Road.

Meaningless note:  I have never been thrilled with teh name Louvre.  It was a poetic license creation of peakbaggers that I thought negated local knowledge because the namers had yet to actually be there.  Had they been they'd have seen an old routed wood sign on the summit with the words "Skookum Peak" etched.  My first time on that summit with actual skis, my ski boots were leather!

The essential rationale for NM only was this:  snowmobiles have so much terrain available to them from parking well beyond the day trip capability of most NM users.  We felt that if we could gain acceptance of the "close in" areas as non-motorized then we could have quiet areas and they could still go to ample terrain far beyond.  Example being Swauk Snowpark: the groomed motorized route bifurcates teh non-moto zones of Pipe and Tronsen and gives them access to countless miles on Table Mountain.  This idea received endorsement of the Kittitas County Grooming Council back at the turn of the century.  The USFS District Ranger would never go through the process of codification.  Not without reason, it got ugly from time to time in the discussion meetings of the late 1990s.  The core issue for separation between motors and bcskiers is the way the tracks of 'biles and bikes trench teh slopes rendering them unskiable and unsafe.  I still believe there is enough terrain to separate both out.  An immediate amount of country designated out of the snowparks for NM and then a vast acreage beyond for motorized between the snowpark and the wilderness boundaries.  It is not necessarily the NM community being "exclusive" at all.  Case in point: Fortune Creek Huts is not in Fortune Creek drainage for the stink that the sno-mo community put up in its planning phase not wanting skiers invading their terrain.  (I think it is better where it is now, incidentally, for a variety of reasons.  Even if out of the price range for many.  Economics of it probably require the $$$).  Creation of a c3 non-profit could keep price down if any other overnight facilities were indeed planned.  The pipe-dream: 4000 ft road on Red->>Sasse Ridge->>Paris Cr->>DeRoux->>Bev/Bean TH->>Stafford TH (another original vol NM Zone)-->>Iron Creek TH(hwy 97).  With regards to huts:  WA as never been CO because the critical mass of interest has never been there.  Plenty of recreationists but not the energy to create.  For most, any of these as a single destination would be special.  The Teanaway Guard Station is fully booked most winters.

LarryR '06 Sasse Pk


my first digital camera


@john-morrow where is FS 4315 gated? Driving partway up the road would be very useful in the spring for corn tours. Your photos from spring look wonderful back there.

kinda low, call CERD for status


Temp yurt sites


If I had a million dollars.....to create a non-profit Cascade 10 Mtn Yurts. All sites on roads for temp removable structures

Just being silly now

That's still really helpful, gets you a thousand feet off the bottom. By the time you can drive to that gate, probably lots of other attractive things (Teanaway, etc) have started melting out.

That's probably about correct timing for N Fk to be melted at Beverly turnoff, Fish Lake open to Camp Creek, give or take a week

I passed you guys on your way out, on the whooped out road.  Thought I recognized you Kyle from your TRs.  Should have stopped to say hi, but we had been smashing pow in the alpine all day and I was dreaming of my beer at the the truck, just minutes away via sled. Your reach on foot is truly remarkable.  Far beyond the average skier.  



Aaron you were the first people we passed (more like got passed by) all day! Looks like you found some great stuff back there!

The grooming on the road ended for the season the weekend prior and the temps had spiked for a couple days before, so all the sledders bailed. The weekend prior all the sno park lots were full and sledders were plentiful. Check out Davis Peak next time you're out there.  Has good corn in the spring and some nice N facing coolies off the east side, that terminate near the river level.  And a very shore approach for a cardio machine, like you.  

Yeah, Davis looks like an excellent corn ski. So I guess the sno park is more full mid winter with sledders when the grooming is still going. I thought the warm temps and crusty snow might cause the machines to overheat some.

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Kyle M
2023-03-21 04:14:41