2016/1/1 – Avalanche Mountain III / 雪崩山之三

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Avalanche Mountain summit ahead
Avalanche Mountain summit ahead

Photos from this trip can be found here.

A great New Year’s Day outing to this off-the-beaten-path mountain with awesome views.

A few days had passed since the most recent snowfall. Thanks to the eager Snow Lake day hikers, the trail had been fully broken at least until the saddle above the lake. For now it was possible to bypass the trailhead by starting a couple hundred feet more to the left of it and go directly into the lower meadow. By following the snowshoe tracks, microspikes worked great getting from the parking lot to the saddle. But beyond that point where few tracks were sighted called for snowshoes full-time.

Scramble usually began at the first big switchback after passing the Alpine Lakes Wilderness sign. Since the trail was nowhere to be found, my two skier friends and I started heading toward head of the east basin shortly arriving at the saddle. Times like this makes you want to be on skis, as I postholed most of the way to the base of the mountain and up to the south ridge. I couldn’t help but to turn around at times to check out the spectacular panoramic view of Chair Peak, Kaleetan Peak, and Mount Roosevelt to the west.

Snow went from powder to semi slushy on the steep west slopes and mostly crusty on the ridge. We stayed in trees and slowly zigzagged our way up to 5000’ just north of the rock outcrops, where the imposing north face of Snoqualmie Mountain slowly came into full view. As we made the easy traverse northerly toward the summit, views to the east and west became more apparent and more spectacular. Friends left their skis halfway up the ridge and followed my snowshoe tracks to the summit block.

I remember last year taking off snowshoes for the final few steps of mixed climbing up to the summit. But this time with more snow coverage, I kept the snowshoes on for easy stepping up over the rocks. It turned out to be a bluebird day, so needless to say, views were just incredible as always. Even with the intermittent southeast wind blowing throughout most of the day, it was still way more tolerable than what another group and I had encountered on Silver Peak the day before.

After a half-hour stay, friends went down to get their skis from the ridge and skied their way down the mountain. I spent another hour or so to take photos and continue to soak in the view. Meanwhile, Source Lake and Coal Lake Basins were under temperature inversions, with clouds continuously overflowing into Snow Lake Basin.

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