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Gaston

[TR] Chiwaukum Range - South to North Ski Traverse 1/27/2010

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Trip: Chiwaukum Range - South to North Ski Traverse

 

Date: 1/27/2010

 

Trip Report:

January 25 and 26, Hoodie and I skied from Icicle Creek to Highway 2 over the Chiwaukum range.

 

I don't have any photos to post yet, as Hoodie took them all with his camera. We found excellent snow and good stability.

 

Highlights included a steep north facing shot off the top of Snowgrass and the magnificent NW couloir on Big Chiwaukum. A random stranger gave us a snowmobile tow up to Chatter Creek, saving us 7 miles of skinning and making it possible to do the traverse in two days. Even then, we had to work hard to make it to the highway by dark. The 5000' descent at the end of a long day was a great finale, with Glacier, Sloan, and whole host of other peaks rising out of the clouds in the stormy dusk. A not-so-random friend from Leavenworth picked us up--thanks O!

 

If you've ever considered doing this traverse or visiting the Chiwaukum range, now is a great time.

 

Approach Notes:

Two-strokes of luck helped a lot.

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That must have been a nice trip. I did that traverse in the opposite direction about 20 years ago and I've been thinking I should go back and improve on the route we took.

 

I'm curious where you descended from Big Chiwaukum. Did you hit the Wildhorse/Whitepine Creek trail or descend more directly to the road near Nason Creek somehow?

 

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that was my buddy mike that gave you guys a ride. we were wondering if you guys made it... Nice!

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Lowell,

 

After skiing the northwest couloir on Big Chiwaukum, we worked back north and east to cross the the range at Dead Horse Pass. From Cup Lake we contoured north and climbed to the col between Pt 7423 and Pt 6935. From there, we rode the ridge that trends out to the northeast. From the 'W' in 'Chiwaukum' (on the 7.5 minute quad) we descended 4,400' straight down toward the Cascade Meadow Church Camp. This is a long, fun run down a big open slide path; we followed the locals' tracks to the end of the logging road that switchbacks down toward the Church Camp. We skied right to the car on the snowy White Pine Creek Road.

 

The views from that final ridge above Highway 2 are stupendous!

 

Cheers,

 

Gaston

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Excellent. That sounds like the ideal route, much better than what we did in 1989. I wonder how long the final descent remains doable into the spring. Lacking a snowmobile tow at the beginning, there would be tension between wanting to let the Icicle River road melt out and wanting to ski that final slope all the way down. An intriguing problem.

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Nice!!!

 

Last year two members of the elite "Icicle royalty" and myself did the infamous Chiwaukum Traverse although we included a stretch of Icicle Ridge by starting at Jay Saddle and descending into Index Creek from Ida lake. Due to extreme avy hazards we were unable to complete a number of our objectives, much to my displeasure since I was on a splitboard and was motivated by some of the steeper terrain. I did far more "skiing" than I would have liked although the snowboarding I did was fantastic. Killer views, weather, and company made it an awesome trip.

 

*Lowell- I would recommend doing it earlier than later by either including the Icicle Ridge or getting a tow. There are many kind locals that would be glad to offer up a ride, myself included. (seriously, if I cant do it, I could put you in contact with someone that could. There are many local avid skiers/boarders that have sleds) We did it late (may?) and caught the trail, hiking out the last three miles to White Pine. The direct descent from Dead Horse Pass would be a far more rewarding finish and well worth the hassle of arranging a tow or the extra day or two by including Icicle Ridge in your trip.

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I did this a few years back from Icicle to Cascade Meadows and concluded that it might be "easier" going from North to South. This allows you to go up the any path we have been calling the Swauth which is really quick and straightforward.

 

We are planning to guide this Feb 25-28 and do some exploring along the way. I am hoping more folks will do it so that we can sort out the best possible route. My thought on trying it N to S this time is that you can ski down all the slogging terrain going down Chatter Creek.

 

We are hoping for a tow out. There is a slim chance that a cell phone would work from up high, otherwise the timing is the crux.

 

Any other beta would be great. There are still some really big lines to be had in the right conditions back in there.

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