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Lowell_Skoog

TR: Alpine Lakes Traverse on skis

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Between June 1 and 4 three friends and I skied from Snoqualmie Pass to the Cle Elum River in the Cascades. This route combines the most scenic portion of the Snoqualmie Haute Route with a traverse over Mount Hinman and Mount Daniel.

 

With the above-normal snowpack, we were able to ski right from our car at Snoqualmie Pass to Commonwealth Basin and the Kendall catwalk. Most of the catwalk was bare, but the east end required step kicking across a steep snow patch.

 

We skied to Ridge Lake, then followed the Crest Trail route across the south facing slopes above Alaska Lake. I don't recommend this route. It is steep with cliffs below and glide cracks that you can't see until you start the traverse. Although it is longer, I recommend climbing up and dropping into the basin beneath Mount Thompson to reach Bumblebee Pass. From Alaska Mountain we skied to Joe Lake, then camped at the saddle between Huckleberry Mountain and Chikamin Peak.

 

On our second morning we cramponed up the west flank of Chikamin Peak and skied down the pretty basin to the east. We traversed beneath the north wall of Lemah Mountain and skied to Iceberg Lake, then climbed to the Overcoat Glacier. We found a scenic camp at the northeast edge of the glacier and watched clouds roll over the peaks from the west.

 

On the third morning we toured around the Overcoat Glacier for views and I scrambled up the north route on Overcoat Peak. (Rope recommended.) Then we packed up and traversed the divide running northeast to the saddle next to Summit Chief Mountain. This high traverse works well, but requires caution and good snow conditions because of cliffs below. The crux is a short rock ramp, apparent from the southwest but hidden if you come from the other direction.

 

We descended to the head of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and climbed the west flank of Mount Hinman. We had intended to camp between Mount Hinman and Mount Daniel, but our weatheradio told of approaching bad weather. We skied wide open slopes to the Hinman-Daniel saddle, then climbed the southwest flank of Daniel to the west shoulder of Lynch Glacier. As we climbed the glacier to the summit, mists swirling around the spires gave the peak an Alaskan look. We camped at Peggy's Pond that night.

 

Our last day required descending the Cathedral Rock trail to the Cle Elum River. We found snow all the way to the valley bottom, but the lower sections were too rough to be worth skiing. We walked and skied five miles of road to reach our second car near Camp Creek. On the drive back to Snoqualmie Pass, the peaks were socked in, signalling the end of our good weather window.

 

It was a fine trip, and I definitely recommend it.

 

[ 06-06-2002, 01:41 PM: Message edited by: Lowell Skoog ]

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How much snow was on the big slabs on Bears Breast? You got any pix?

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There's still lots of snow on the peaks between Bear's Breast and Summit Chief. A lot of glide cracks are starting to show.

 

I took several rolls of film, but haven't developed them yet. I don't have a digital camera or a scanner.

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So it was one continous descent from the summit of Daniel into the valley??? Sweet! Exactly what I wanted to know. Thanks Lowell.

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Well, I wouldn't take "continuous descent to the valley" too literally. The bottom 1000 feet was so rough that we decided to walk rather than risk our necks crashing onto trees. And then there's five miles of road to deal with. So, if you're interested in skiing Mt Daniel, there's still a lot of work involved. A young forest ranger stranded his truck trying to drive through a snowpatch below Scatter Creek. Broke the axle. We figured it was a career limiting move.

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