Big snow falling in the Cascades to kick off October, had the “year round” ski community chomping at the bit for some easy access powder turns (Or at least we thought). However, along with the government shut down, so came an end to our easy access powder skiing. The go to location for “skins on” at the car WAS going to be Mt. Rainier’s Paradise parking lot, which would have led us to some excellent skiing on Muir snowfield. Once Rainier was out, we focused our ideas towards the volcano to the North, Mt. Baker. Only to find it was a no go for many reasons, one of which might have been a mid-week shutdown of Hwy 542 for drainage maintenance (not to mention the Glacier Creek Rd still being short of Heliotrope’s TH)? Lucky for us, the Crystal Mountain ski area crew sent out their snow report Monday from the top of the gondola (apx 6,900′), with well over 20 inches of new snow. Enough snow had fallen that the Crystal management would offer a half day ski for a very lucky 75 people. Two of those lucky powder hounds just happened to be Tara and Carl Simpson. After their choice day at Crystal Mountain, Carl felt the snow depth was good enough to give Chinook Pass a try the following day (Wednesday). Bingo!!! Carl reported good coverage in the Sourdough Gap zone, so this Snow Trooper was in rally mode to head up for a little of the same on Thursday.
Below is a calming 2:22 video of the day, eh.
Our friend Cristin Kloeck, joined Trooper and myself for sunshine, a little powder and epic views. When we made the apx 2 1/2 mile slog along the Pacific Crest Trail to Sourdough gap, I thought how lucky we were to be traveling the trail with knee deep snow on most sections. On the flip side, I couldn’t help but think of all the PCT through hikers (Mexico to Canada backpackers) that are pinned down, on the trail and in hostels up and down the Cascades of Washington state, wondering if they can complete their massive journey. We made it up to Sourdough Gap just in time to catch Eric Yotz and Pavel Dolezen testing the goods. Even seeing them and their skis survive the low coverage hitting NOTHING, I was still a little nervous for the first couple turns, not wanting to end the season before it began. The turns were excellent all the way down to Crystal Lake. I think the skis will go back in storage and keep the trail runners out for a bit longer. Also, If I do bust the skis back out before Winter is ON, most likely it will be on a glacier.
above – Naches Peak/Chinook Pass as seen from Sourdough Gap