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Big Chief Mountain


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Yesterday I skied the North Ridge of Big Chief Mountain. It was amazing— best snow I’ve skied all year. We skied several bowls on the East Face that were untracked, but they paled in comparison to the northern side of the mountain. I'd say it had twice the powder I saw anywhere else. The north ridge had over three feet of powder for I’d say 2000 feet. Avalanche danger was moderate. I cut one slab while skiing a steep section and there was a lot of sluffing but no sign of avalanches. We ended up on the hiway a little less than a mile east of the pass. Several skiers were trying to hitchhike back to the parking lot but we huffed it by our own tired dogs. I highly recommend Big Chief Mountain as a backcountry tour.

Of note, there is a cool little shack that some skiers built on the ridge, maybe 8' x8'. There are also some cool snow caves to hang out in.

BTW, I recommend snow boarders attempting this trip bring snowshoes, especially for the ridgeline traverse. If you don't have snowshoes, maybe this isn't the right ski tour for you.

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Thanks, Matt. For those of you who don't recognize the peak, it is just outside the boundary and east of the ski area at Stevens Pass.

Did you dig any snow pits? See anything interesting? How was the skiing through the woods as you descended toward the highway? Would we need eye protection and a tough coat?

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For those of you who don't know where Big Chief is, it's north east from Tyee-Mill Creek saddle at Stevens Pass ski area. If you want a guide it is described in Rainer Burgdorfer's book "100 Classic Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Routes in Washington." The peak tops out at 5,858 feet.

There were some really interesting cornices on the ridge, but nothing that really worried me. To answer your question we did not dig a pit, but felt the new snow was thick and well consolidated. It was ego building snow all the way down. An interesting thing occurred to both my partner and me. While skiing down the eastern slopes of Big Chief we were abducted by aliens . It happenned while were skiing in the glades. My partner and I both felt like we had "lost time" when we emerged from the trees at the bottom and we had an overwhelming feeling that abduction is the explanation. I would not have said anything but he felt it too. The strange part is, my knee was hurting me from a two week old injury and at the end of the day it felt better than when I woke up that morning. I think the aliens healed my knee.

When skiing the north ridge, we started our descent in a narrow steep gulley, but it quickly opened up into glades. We found beautiful open spaces connected by brief intervals of trees. There were a few tight sections down low where it was necessary to just point your tips down and go. Usually I found an open area on the other side where I could check my speed. Because of the deep powder it was easy to slow down. From where we skied, once we started our descent off the ridge the slopes were steep and consistant all the way to the road; it never flattened out. It was only on the ridgeline traverse when my partner wished he could trade he snowboard for my tele gear. rolleyes.gif" border="0

Goggles were nice when they weren't fogged up and if I owned one of those new age ski helmets I might want to bring it along. A tough coat would be essential but even more important would be a waterproof coat. It was wet, snow was consistantly up to my waist.

Bring the fattest skis you have and be prepared for steep glades. Of course, bring your avalanche transceiver, shovel, skins and anything else you normaly bring along on a hike up a mountain. I don't think this is a place where 50 feet of flagging tape could substitute for a beacon. You couldn't ski down without wrapping the tape up in the trees. wink.gif" border="0

[ 02-08-2002: Message edited by: Matt ]

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