Snoqualmie to Stevens
Matthew and I skied from Snoqualmie to Stevens over five days. Conditions were generally quite poor with low visibility and light precip, especially the first couple days. We found wet snow at all elevations from the last heat wave but no corn yet. Above 6k there was new snow and a supportive crust, between 5k and 6k was the breakable crust hell zone, and below 5k the snow was not refreezing overnight.
On the first day we toured up Commonwealth Basin and crossed the Kendall Katwalk. That was a bit sketchy. We traversed to Alaska Lake and decided that the steep S face above would be too dangerous to ascend in the heat of the day. To avoid it, we skied down to Gold Creek and then up through some annoying forest to Joe Lake.
We awoke to light snow which unfortunately prevented the snow from refreezing at all. Instead, we had wet snow with a dusting of cold new snow: the perfect recipe for glopping. We worked our way up the S face of Chikamin in a whiteout, definitely not taking the best route. The descent to Iceberg Lake was more whiteout skiing on wet snow. At Iceberg Lake we couldn't see anything but we could hear avalanches coming off of Lemah every 30 seconds so we decided to cut the day short and camp.
In the morning the skies cleared a bit and we made our way onto the Overcoat Glacier. Some steep wallowing on the last section as we punched through the new snow into the wet snow underneath. We skied down the Overcoat Glacier which was OK until it became breakable crust. Best skiing of the day was wet snow in the trees down to the Middle Fork. We skinned up incredible old growth forest in the Middle Fork and then up to Chain Lakes. There's really no evidence of the lakes with all the snow so we continued up to La Bohn Gap and found a nice campsite in a wind scoop with cell service and incredible views of the Chimney Rock group and Necklace Valley.
In the morning we watched a beautiful stormy sunrise as we climbed to the summit of Hinman and then took a nice long ski run down its N slope. Nice until the crust suddenly became breakable, at least. We climbed up to Pea Soup Lake and then N to the col between Pea Soup and Jade. I really liked this section skiing between Pea Soup, Jade, and Marmot, but the snow was terrible! Just like the day before, the best skiing of the day was wet snow in the trees down to Deception Creek. We skinned up another annoying forest to Deception Lakes and had a nice afternoon lounging in the sun.
The last day was kinda brutal. We skinned to Surprise Gap and then did a very long traverse to Surprise Lake on breakable crust making about 2 turns in 2 miles. More annoying forest then a mushy descent to Trap Lake and more annoying steep forest traversing on the PCT all the way to Stevens. I would not recommend this section, it's really not fun terrain for ski touring. We skinned up Stevens and then all the way down to Yodelin and a final skin to our friend's cabin where we spent the night.
All in all, a good trip, but better conditions would have made it a lot more enjoyable. Still, nice to be back in the Cascades after a winter in Utah!
Total stats: 23k ascent, 50 miles
- Snoqualmie Pass to Joe Lake: 4879 up, 3228 down, 8.48 miles
- Joe Lake to Iceberg Lake: 2877 up, 2644 down, 4.71 miles
- Iceberg Lake to Mount Hinman: 5443 up, 3780 down, 9.02 miles
- Mount Hinman to Deception Lakes: 4459 up, 6099 down, 11.47 miles
- Deception Lakes to Stevens Pass: 5531 up, 6959 down, 17.19 miles