Avalanche Mountain by Snoqualmie Mountain via Snow Lake Trail / 雪崩山

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Avalanche Mountain perches east of Snow Lake Basin behind Snoqualmie Mountain. At the same time, it offers dramatic views of its tall neighbors along Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. The closeness to Alpental Ski Area also makes this modest high point accessible all year round.

Avalanche Mountain by Snoqualmie Mountain
Avalanche Mountain by Snoqualmie Mountain

See more trip photos here.

Avalanche Mountain by Snoqualmie Mountain at a Glance

Access: Snoqualmie Alpental Ski Area
Round Trip: 8 miles
Elevation Range: 3120′-5360′
Gear: snowshoes
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

The Preface

It was my seventh trip to Avalanche Mountain since 2013. We skipped our New Year’s Eve shindig in 2019 when the black pup was too young. Then last year, the inclement weather over mountain passes kept us away.

With heavy snow in the forecast the day before the Eve, I moved the trip to today. The clear freeway also allowed me to drive to the pass without worries. But this time, I went alone to spare the dogs from the frigid temps.

7 AM, 12 degrees Fahrenheit
7 AM, 12 degrees Fahrenheit

See more trip photos here.

Instagram Post

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Snow Lake Trail

I started snowshoeing from Alpental Ski Area at 7 AM in 12°F (-11°C) weather–burr! Although the sunrise was another hour away, the sky looked brighter than usual. So far, we’ve had more snow this season than in past years.

Thanks to the recent tracks, I walked the well-beaten path right away. But judging by snow conditions, I was sure no one had taken the trail up to the pass. Sure enough, not a single boot print was on the switchback.

This way to Avalanche Mountain by Snoqualmie Mountain
This way to Avalanche Mountain by Snoqualmie Mountain

See more trip photos here.

Through Source Lake Basin

I wasn’t about to plow through feet of powder on avalanche terrain. Instead, I stayed on the defined path above Source Lake. Soon, the trail dropped into the basin, where a dozen skiers went up the milder ground.

It was my first time rerouting, but now I knew where the skiers had been hiding! En route, I met two guys on their way to climbing Chair Peak. Epic! The ski tracks would later take me up to the ridge over Snow Lake.

Skiers in Source Lake Basin
Skiers in Source Lake Basin

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En Route to Avalanche Mountain by Snoqualmie Mountain

I soon lost sight of the skiers near the ridge in the mist. But I assumed most had made their way over to the classic Chair Peak Circumnavigation. The route sounded tiring on foot as I tried picturing it in my head.

I traversed east over the pass before dropping into Snow Lake’s east basin. Then I moved in knee-deep powder as the fog dissipated. After crossing the 4240′ frozen pond, I followed day-old ski tracks to the bottom of Avalanche Mountain.

Avalanche Mountain by Snoqualmie Mountain in the mist
Avalanche Mountain by Snoqualmie Mountain in the mist

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The Final Stretch

Four skiers going up to the mountain came up behind me moments later. I was happy to let them lead so I could enjoy someone else paving the way for once. Then I trailed behind but continued to posthole a little.

I later caught up to the group on the ridge as they prepared for the final bit. Then I went ahead and finished the last sketchy part in heavy snow. It was the most powder in the years I’ve been up here. Summit temps were 32°F (0°C).

Skiers laying out the tracks
Skiers laying out the tracks

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Avalanche Mountain by Snoqualmie Mountain Summit Views

As I had expected, clouds were spewing over Snow Lake Pass. I carefully surveyed the top while joyously breathing in the crisp air. Besides going off the beaten path, the inversion alone has kept me coming back for more.

As always, the shady side of Snoqualmie Mountain looked amazing yet gnarly. A winter coat had made Mount Thomson and Mount Price even more striking. This peak is unquestionably the best place to view the lake basin.

Snow Lake Basin and peaks
Snow Lake Basin and peaks

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Outro

I chatted with the skiers before they went down the west slopes. Then I retraced my steps off the south ridge and made a beeline for the meadow basin below. Soon, I was back in the inversion up to the pass.

Instead of going back through Source Lake, I went south from the saddle. Then from Snow Lake Trail 500′ below, I walked the rest 1.5 miles back to the car. Meanwhile, I stayed in the trees to avoid open terrain.

Finding my way home
Finding my way home

See more trip photos here.

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