Middle Chiwaukum by Big Chiwaukum via White Pine / 奇瓦康姆中峯

  • Reading time:10 mins read
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Middle Chiwaukum by Big Chiwaukum ranks #9 in Chiwaukum Mountains before Frigid Mountain. To the west lies the distinct Arrowhead Mountain and Jim Hill Mountain. Moreover, the northwest ridge via White Pine Road leads straight to the peak.

Middle Chiwaukum from the upper northwest ridge
Middle Chiwaukum from the upper northwest ridge

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Middle Chiwaukum at a Glance

Access: White Pine Road
Round Trip: 10.5 miles
Elevation Range: 2320′-7423′
Gear: ice ax, snowshoes
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

The Preface

Middle Chiwaukum has been on my radar since Big Chiwaukum. But I hadn’t thought about going up in wintry conditions, at least not until I saw a report from January. Then I delayed the trip after the rare February snowstorms.

I wanted to do a conditioner for tomorrow’s Big Climb event by visiting the mountain. We could drive clear to the roadway’s end the last time we were here. But thanks to Jeff‘s recent report, I estimated the road walk needed.

The road walk
The road walk

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White Pine Road

I carefully drove over mud and ice on White Pine Road and stopped half a mile before the Baptist Camp. Soon, out came a car with the driver telling me I could continue to the camp without issues. Sweet!

I later parked at the pullout but couldn’t see White Pine Road behind the snow berm. Oops, our bad! As we walked through the groomed trail behind the open gate, I realized we were on private property.

Middle Chiwaukum beyond the ridgeline
Middle Chiwaukum beyond the ridgeline

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Road Walk to White Pine Trailhead

After making our way to White Pine Road, we started to posthole. The old snowshoe tracks sat atop firmer snow, but we consistently stepped through in places. So it was a slow two miles to the trailhead at 2800′.

The old tracks went past the trailhead, so I thought they belonged to recent hikers. Then we left the path by the entrance and went straight uphill. The terrible snow conditions ended up eating up more time.

The fun starts nowf
The fun starts now

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Upper Northwest Ridge

The initial 1400′ in fresh powder went bitterly slow before stumbling upon tracks at 4200′. Then I channeled my inner Madea: “Hellur Hallelujer, praise da Lort!” The path came from below, so we should’ve stayed on the trail for a bit!

Despite having a path, we continued to posthole in many places. But at least we took route-finding out of the equation and moved quicker for the next 1600′. The ridge later flattened at 5800′, and I saw North Chiwaukum at 5900′.

The real Middle Chiwaukum, please stand up
The real Middle Chiwaukum, please stand up

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North Chiwaukum Northwest Ridge

The shadow of North Chiwaukum looked terrific in the blazing sun. As we strolled through the thin forest, something suddenly caught my eye–Middle Chiwaukum! The gnarly-looking peak had poked her head from behind the trees. Holy isht!

As we neared the top of North Chiwaukum, I thought about shortcutting to the south saddle. But I remembered a report saying it wasn’t worth the effort. So we went up to the summit to see even more amazing views.

North view from North Chiwaukum
North view from North Chiwaukum

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Middle Chiwaukum via North Chiwaukum

We took a break as clouds slowly revealed familiar places like Big Jim Mountain and Big Chiwaukum. Then across the ridge was the impressive Middle Chiwaukum calling our names. So off we went!

The old tracks were now under the snow piles. Meanwhile, new ski trails from the backside had made their way over to Middle Chiwaukum. As we neared the east shoulder, I knew why one group had turned around below the arête.

Nearing the snow arête
Nearing the snow arête

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Middle Chiwaukum East Ridge

Without enough traction, one slip could quickly send me down either side. So I used the ice ax for the final 100′ up to the false peak. Less snow on the south allowed me to walk up to the windy summit in boots.

Clouds had hovered over the horizon. Then within half an hour, places to the south were the first to go. But glad that I saw them before they faded. Ewing Basin with Chiwaukum Lake and Larch Lake were still under much snow.

South panoramic view
South panoramic view

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Outro

I put on snowshoes to go down the east ridge, so the crampons stayed in the pack. Soon, we went through North Chiwaukum and down the northwest ridge. Snow had worsened in the afternoon heat, and it was easier to make a new trail.

Going down in the forest was annoying. Even our tracks over the popcorn snow couldn’t keep us afloat. Meanwhile, my constant yell from falling over likely had scared off the wildlife. Soon, we ended the trip with the road walk back to the car.

Thanks for a long but fantastic day
Thanks for a long but fantastic day

See more trip photos here.

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