2017/12/31 – Avalanche Mountain V / 雪崩山之五

See you next time
See you next time

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Last hiking slash scrambling slash snowshoeing slash climbing trip of 2017!

One thing I love about hiking in Washington State, is that the diverse terrain types often produce various weather patterns in different areas within a given season. One day we could be hiking on other side of the mountains in warm, desert-like weather like yesterday, then the next day back to climbing in subfreezing, wintry conditions like today.

Steep terrain
Steep terrain

Photos from this trip can be found here.

As mentioned in several other reports, the main Snow Lake Trail had been well beaten. No need for snowshoes, but I put on microspikes for traction. Somehow we overshot the Snow Lake Trail junction by quarter of a mile following the tracks before the tracks dwindled. We met a fellow snowshoer Erik on the way back to the junction and followed the boot path up two long switchbacks.

Visible boot tracks ended at around 4,200′ right before the exposed, steep slope crossing below the water ice-covered cliff wall. STRONGLY ADVISE day hikers, or persons without prior winter mountaineering experience or proper gear to TURNAROUND HERE.

Lake 4240
Lake 4240

Photos from this trip can be found here.

What was once calf-deep fresh powder from 4,200′ to the pass at 4,400′ had since been replaced with hard ice under a few inches of snow. Along the way I spotted boot tracks, presumably left from this past week, partially buried in new snow.

Some old ski tracks seen in the Snow Lake Basin on the way down, new tracks were later added by day skiers seen on our way out. Great snow consistency today for snowshoeing, not much postholing leading to south ridge of the mountain where most postholing took place. We stayed on or west of the ridge depending on snow conditions.

Cloudy basin
Cloudy basin

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Just as in the last few years of being here to end the year on a high note, no signs of Snow Lake due to the temperature inversion. But once we got above the cloud level and reached our destination, we were immediately treated with the forecasted sunny weather and phenomenal views all around. Last year the inversion rose much higher and we had zero views on top.

The sight of rolling clouds carried in from Source Lake Basin by fast-moving wind was simply breathtaking. More clouds with more elevated inversion this year. We enjoyed a warm 45-minute stay before unwillingly heading back down into the clouds, where temperature decreased by half of that on the summit.

Souce Lake Basin high points
Source Lake Basin high points

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Back at the crux on south side of the pass, we carefully descended with the aid of ice axe and large trees. On the way out on the trail, I chatted with a couple of groups before arriving back at the Alpental parking lot at sunset time.

Access: Snow Lake Trailhead
Gear: microspikes, snowshoes, ice ax

2 Comments Add yours

  1. That inversion layer looks so awesome! We hiked to source lake yesterday and did not manage to climb above the layer, so we just had a misty, foggy route. Still pretty though!

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    1. John says:

      Hi there, thank you! Glad you got a chance to get out yesterday and hope it wasn’t overly crowded. The area is always beautiful with or without views in my opinion, but nice to get above it all. We tend to get the inversion around this time of the year and it continues to fascinate me.

      Like

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