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Chair peak approach

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How long does it take to approach to do the routes on the NF and NEB. Would you recommend snowshoes or skis? When will they likely be in shape?

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Alpy bridge is just from the lower parking lot to the ski lodges. It doesn't have anything to do with the apprach to Chair. You can either stay on the East side of the drainage the whole way to source lake (advised) or venture up via the ski tracks straight out of the far upper lot (quicker but avy exposed.) Time'll depends on whether you fast or slow wink.gif

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I went up to the Tooth to the 18th, so a bit of the approach was the same. The packed ski track wasn't too bad, but off that the snow was really dry deep powder. It took us 4 hours to get to Pineapple Pass. I was on AT skiboards and my partner was on big snowshoes. It was a pain in the ass either way, but the ski down would be fun, if only I could ski better on short skis with a pack in powder. Check the avy conditions before you go.

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That's the deal: you can't walk up the ski track any more. They've shut down that trail to uphill traffic. I imagine another track will have to be set in on the other side of the valley.

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I have a friend that has done Chair Peak NF in winter in 2:38 car to car. I have another friend who got benighted on it. Approach time all depends on snow conditions and your party's fitness level.

 

Skis or snowshoes work equally well for the approach. The conditions on the routes typically improve during the winter with the NEB coming into condition earlier and being more reliable.

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I went up to the Tooth to the 18th, so a bit of the approach was the same. The packed ski track wasn't too bad, but off that the snow was really dry deep powder. It took us 4 hours to get to Pineapple Pass. I was on AT skiboards and my partner was on big snowshoes. It was a pain in the ass either way, but the ski down would be fun, if only I could ski better on short skis with a pack in powder. Check the avy conditions before you go.

 

This is why people die from avalanches........"check the conditions before you go". That just doesn't work in our climate. Snow stability must be assessed on site, just logging on to Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center and then figuring your safe to travel through the Source Lake basin is asking for trouble.

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I have not gone up the East side of the valley in winter, but in spring and summer have noted that the trail crosses several large avy paths. Seems to me the winter route danger is mainly when you get close to Source Lake. Would you consider the eastern approach a safer alternative?

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Would you consider the eastern approach a safer alternative?

 

No. If the conditios are bad in the basin either approach is going to be as well.

 

Like the man said...check the conditions on site and in person after you have logged on and read the updates at home.

 

If you don't know how to do that get the education to do so.

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This is why people die from avalanches........"check the conditions before you go". That just doesn't work in our climate. Snow stability must be assessed on site, just logging on to Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center and then figuring your safe to travel through the Source Lake basin is asking for trouble.

 

Yes and no. Pretty much any time the hazard is rated "low," you can safely head for Snow Lakes or whatever though I suppose you might sometimes still find an odd windslab in some high, exposed location like the south face of Granite Mountain. For climbing, these "low" level hazard ratings often occur during periods of easy travel and good weather, such as after it rains up to 9,000 feet and then freezes again and stays clear (this probably happens on average at least once a year). It is when the avalanche hazard is rated moderate or high (which is most of the time) that you have to use more judgment, as last year's accidents during periods of "moderate" hazard demonstrate.

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How can they restrict access to public land? I know there is a whole separate thread on this issue, but it just pisses me off to no end that the effing ski area authority would even try, much less have the power to do this. The backcountry does not belong to them, nor does the ski track, or anything else.

 

This is beyond ridiculous and unfucking believable.

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How can they restrict access to public land? I know there is a whole separate thread on this issue, but it just pisses me off to no end that the effing ski area authority would even try, much less have the power to do this. The backcountry does not belong to them, nor does the ski track, or anything else.

 

This is beyond ridiculous and unfucking believable.

 

More so, does anybody actually plan on respecting this "closure" of uphill traffic on the packed ski trail? I certainly wouldn't.

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More so, does anybody actually plan on respecting this "closure" of uphill traffic on the packed ski trail? I certainly wouldn't.

 

Why not? After the first two or three people break trail it'll be perfectly good on the other side of the creek and there is no need to stir up conflict with the ski patrol or the ski area management, who just might be able to find a way to be LESS accomodating if they decide that climbers/snowshoers/others are a pain in the ass. What do you want to bet there is nothing in their lease agreement that requires them to allow ANY access over their lease area - that is, the parking lots. Any time the climbs will be in shape (that is any time there is not a major snowstorm in progress), you will probably find a perfectly good trail without going out of your way.

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I went up to the Tooth to the 18th, so a bit of the approach was the same. The packed ski track wasn't too bad, but off that the snow was really dry deep powder. It took us 4 hours to get to Pineapple Pass. I was on AT skiboards and my partner was on big snowshoes. It was a pain in the ass either way, but the ski down would be fun, if only I could ski better on short skis with a pack in powder. Check the avy conditions before you go.

 

This is why people die from avalanches........"check the conditions before you go". That just doesn't work in our climate. Snow stability must be assessed on site, just logging on to Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center and then figuring your safe to travel through the Source Lake basin is asking for trouble.

People have been caught in avalanches while digging snow pits as well. shocked.gif Sometimes on site stability testing isn't what it's cracked up to be.

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Why not? After the first two or three people break trail it'll be perfectly good on the other side of the creek and there is no need to stir up conflict with the ski patrol or the ski area management, who just might be able to find a way to be LESS accomodating if they decide that climbers/snowshoers/others are a pain in the ass. What do you want to bet there is nothing in their lease agreement that requires them to allow ANY access over their lease area - that is, the parking lots. Any time the climbs will be in shape (that is any time there is not a major snowstorm in progress), you will probably find a perfectly good trail without going out of your way.

 

Because there has to be a point where you stop rolling over and taking it in the rear end, Matt. Where exactly do you plan to park up there anyway, as it sounds like they've restricted access to the Alpental lots? IIRC, the nearest snow park is at Gold Creek.

 

Besides, if the lease is this poorly written, it needs to be exposed so that it can be changed in the future both here and elsewhere.

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As I understand it from reading this board (I have not been there recently nor have I talked to anybody who actually knows what is going on so I may be completely wrong), they are wanting to use the parking lots THEY plow for THEIR customers and they are not required to provide parking for backcountry users. However, I also understand that they are willing to allow backcountry users to use the parking lots THEY plow, but they are asking us to use one that is a couple hundred yards further from the trailhead - the lot in front of the broken bridge. With regard to the trail in the first part of the Alpental valley, I understand they want to separate traffic so that skiers don't share a trail with snowshoers and skiers skinning up the hill and people just walking.

 

Again, I don't know what the situation really is but if the situation is as I surmise, I see little point beating your cheast about how you are going to stand up to "the man" over which side of the creek you have to travel on and whether or not you have to walk an additional two hundred yards. In my view, that kind of self righteousness is not only a waste of energy but it is counterproductive. I'll call the ski area and find out what they have to say about this, though, and if or when I get an answer I'll post it here.

 

Do you know for a fact that they are giving it to us in the rear? How so?

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Your interpretation is what I read, as well, Matt. What I don't understand is the part about not being allowed to head up the trail at the end of the lot in question (walking past the water tower). I've never run into skiers/boarders from the ski area on that trail.

 

Further, regarding the lease, from what I am reading, we should be attempting to work with the FS to include an addendum that allows backcountry users (i.e., non-lift ticket buyers) to park in the upper lot. This, I would think, is something that Andy Fitz and the Access Fund would be able to help with.

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Mounties discussion

 

I pulled one point out of this thread, and that is that the parking lot itself IS ON FS land and people CAN park on it. What the ski area is doing is requiring backcountry users to use the "summer trail". However, one gentleman made a good point: if you're making a pre-dawn start up to Chair, who's gonna see you? Plus, it's open to "down hill users"; when you're walking out, you're a downhill user.

 

Roark

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i think the parking lot is on FS land which is LEASED by the ski area. i believe this lease gives them final say so over the use of that lot.

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i think the parking lot is on FS land which is LEASED by the ski area. i believe this lease gives them final say so over the use of that lot.

 

Read the posts on that Mountie thread; from one dude's discussion with one of the FS people, it tells a different story.

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The ski area folks will not return my calls, but somebody at the North Bend ranger station did, and she said that the new policy is that backcountry users are to park in the lower lot, by the broken bridge, and start up the trail at the Summer trailhead, just beyond. She indicated that part of the area, and perhaps part of the back parking lots, may be private property owned by the ski area, and she also ventured a guess that this new policy was probably adopted in response to the avalanche accident from a few weeks ago. In any event, we now have two or three different people who are telling us that it will be OK to park at Alpental and head up the Alpental Valley, with the change being that you are now supposed to park in the lower lot which is a couple hundred yards below where most of us used to park, and we are now supposed to travel upstream on the right side, rather than on the ski area's trail on the left side.

 

I think it would be a good idea to make our opinions known and I intend to follow up with letters indicating that I am unhappy with this new restriction, but the reality is that our access is not really limited very much. It will take maybe five minutes longer to get to Chair Peak.

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I stopped by up there on the way over the pass (on 12/28) and was appalled at the number of big red signs posted all over the Alpental road that said "no sledding or snowshoing" "no dogs" and "no parking." It's not clear to me where on the north side of the freeeway you might be able to park legally for anything besides patronizing Alpental.

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you can't really park too much of anywhere besides the alpental parking lots on that side of the freeway. as for the no dogs/no sledding signs, i don't see what your problem is. i've almost hit morons sledding and sliding right into the road in front of me. they clog the road and make it almost impossible to get through there. the dogs are a problem b/c they tend to dart in front of cars. there is a leash rule in the neighborhoods there. there's usually plenty of parking at alpental. the access question is related to the upper lot. park in the lower lot.

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I called that guy who was mentioned in the thread on this site a couple of weeks ago (Tom? Don? Can't remember). He is with the N. Bend Ranger District, I think. He said we can't park at any Alpental lot unless and until the situation is resolved by paying a fee for parking (in addition to your trailhead pass) or the creation of another lot. At such time as we have high pressure following warming and I can get up there, I intend to check out the situation in the lots and see if anyone is hanging around ready to chase us away. If so, we may have to suck it up and hitchhike or walk the entire road from its beginning. If no one is around, then I'd say just park and scamper to the Snow Lake trailhead.

 

We should all call or write or e-mail and give them our two cents. The land (all the Alpental lots and the first 1/4 mile of the traditional winter trail from the upper lot) is Alpental's to control under the lease, per that guy. But the more we work with them to find an alternative that does not cause them to lose revenue (primarily from skiers turned away for lack of parking), the better the chance we have of regaining our toe hold to good access.

 

Let's get on it.

 

John Sharp

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