Friday, July 8, 2011

Silver Peak - NW RIdge - 07.07.11

1800'+ elevation gain
~5 miles RT
Left car: 7:15 am
Summit: 9:05 am
Back at car: 10:45 pm
3.5 hours car to car

Without any willing weekday partners I was able to get away for a climb of Silver Peak in Snoqualmie Pass. There weren't recent trip reports, but Silver usually holds snow pretty well. So I went to find out if I could ski it.

When I arrived near the meadows, I was startled by the lack of visible snow. Since I was feeling like this might be a hike with my skis, I left the skins in the car and headed out in my approach shoes. I parked the car by the PCT and headed toward the woods where the brush looks less thick. The first two creek crossings were tricky with numerous blow downs. Once reaching the third which was even more tricky, I opted not to cross, but to head upstream. Within 500' vertical of the car I was on continuous snow on the other side of the creek and picking my way upward. I switched over to ski boots here for better purchase/platform while kicking steps.

I started following some downhill ski tracks, but they cliffed me out and I had to traverse and down climb a bit to get back on track. A few veggie belays later and I was in the lower bowl heading toward the ridge. The sun was out and I was trying to stay in the shade as I made my way to the ridge. Up on the ridge I stashed my skis and continued on snow for about 50'. I then put my approach shoes back on for the trail walk/scramble to the summit. The view were great with undercast skies.

Once on the summit, the wind picked up and clouds rolled in from the west. The snow was in decent shape, and I didn't want to get rained on, so I hustled it back to my skis where I got ready to descend.

Dropping in was fun and I made my way back toward the bowl I had come up. There were a few hesitations where I had to make sure the line went before continuing. Then picking my way through some of the terrain that I veggie belayed up through. I took my skis off for a bit while traversing through some terrain that was low on snow and then donned them again at the top of my final steep slope.

A few turns down, I lost an edge bouncing over sun cups. I was sort of complacent about it and fell into the slope thinking I would just stop. I didn't. After 30' of sliding and getting beat up I opted to arrest the slide with my Whippet. The runout was clean but I was picking up speed. The fall was not forceful, as I only lost one ski a few feet before stopping. I collected my stuff and continued down.

Now I was on flatter terrain and I was attempting to not have to cross the creek again. So I kept it on skier's right of me and followed some faint ski track out as far as I could before the inevitable bushwhack took place. I struggled through budding blueberry bushes for what seemed like a long time before once again arriving at the PCT and finishing the hike out.

This was a fun trip and I am glad I finally made the summit. I am also glad about skiing in July. Next time I will not be so complacent when it comes to falling and arrest as soon as I am laying down. Mostly I have a few abrasions. (The bushwhack drew more blood.)

My pics are here.

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