100 Classic Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Routes in Washington
by Rainer Burgdorfer (The Mountaineers Books)
© Rainer Burgdorfer/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.
This is a great hike to test yourself and get in shape for something bigger. The top 500 feet can be very icy at times and you should really have at the very least an ice axe. We snow-shoed to the top yesterday and the conditions were pretty good. Some wind (20 mph) gusting at the top make us glad we had some warm gear too. The first third of this hike you can do with just boots then the rest is snow shoes or skis, but I would be careful on the top like the last person mentioned its steep and can get very icy. Not much traffic past about 4000 feet due to difficulty the lower trail is fairly busy with people trying out their new snow gear.
Though not mentioned in the ski guide, this trail is primarily a boot pack, in fact would recommend leaving the skins in the car and save the weight. Also, if it''s at all icy up above tree line the fall potential is high and I would highly recommend a self arrest device of some sort. The day we went there were many groups of climbers doing the same ascent with crampons and ice axes.
Hiked in prep for Rainier. During the summer months this is a gorgeous hike. The patches of snow here and there keep you cool. This is an advanced hike and is comparable to Bandera mountain just west of Granite. During the winter months there are many avalaches and Granite has taken many lives. Would recommend for the scenery though!
I just snowboarded this route for the first time, but certainly not the last. When snow conditions are stable, this is one of the greatest and closest backcountry routes near Seattle. The hike up started in the forest then opened up to the rocky SW ridge. The west side was icy and worked best for the crampon crew, we stayed on the east side with snow soft enough to kick steps in. There is fire tower at the summit, but it provides no shelter from the wind since it sits high on posts. The descent was superb. We rode just west of the ridge then dropped into the avalanche gulch at treeline. The gulch was fun, but petered out at the top of a waterfall. Here we snowshoed down east of the fall and down all the way to the road. It required bushwacking, but took less than an hour. Most would rather head back down the trail at treeline or just below.
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