March 29, Roslyn Singletrack

Finishing out the multisport week with a little mountain biking in the hills above Roslyn, Wa.

March 28, Red Mountain

Greg skins right to the top

First turn off the summit

Red Mountain is the perfect pyramid that is highly visible from the top of Alpental. It is usually a real workout to make it up it's steep slopes. I have passed it by for easier tours up towards the East peak of Snoqualmie, but I needed to tick it off my list for the season. Luckily Greg Louie had recovered from his broken fibula and was ready to go, along with my trusty partner Frank. As we toured up the lower slopes we were concerned about the stability of the snowpack, but as we toured higher the slopes firmed up, and we were actually able to easily skin right to the summit. Much better than past years where we have resorted to boot packing through mush or
barely being able to gain purchase on icy slopes.

March 27, Peshastin Pinnacles

Originally I was only going to post my backcountry ski adventures on the website, but that would make it pretty boring throughout the summer, and I would be missing some great photos of my summer adventures. Last Sunday while it was raining at Snoq. Pass I drove down to Ellensburg and went Mt. Biking in the hills above town. The scenery was great and I didn't bring the camera. So from now on, I will try to bring the camera more, and post more off-snow activities.

Today we drove an hour and half to Peshastin Pinnacles to get some Eastern Washington sunshine and climb a little rock.

Frank works the crack

Kevin hanging out

Alpental Randonnee Race

This race was the same day that I left for the Snow Peak Shelter. I had to work the day before and did not think I could get to the race in time, nor did I feel like a real pain fest. Anyhow, my #1 ski partner Frank Neuman wanted to test his mettle and entered the recreational class. He sent me these pictures of the race that he stole from Initial Photography. Looks like a pretty cool race.

I think Frank made this spiffy map of the course

A le mans start.

Course went straight up under both the chairs, with a boot section up the fan and this ladder section through the cliffs above Rollen.

March 19, Snow Peak Shelter - Almost

This picture on a tree was as close as we got to seeing the shelter.

Well, the idea started off good. Unfortunately the idea was better than reality. The idea was for 4 or 5 people to skin 3 hours into Snow Peak shelter at Sherman Pass in the Kettle Crest Range. Well as the date approached it looked like only Francine and I were willing to brave the forecast of rain and warm temperatures at Sherman Pass. We decided to cut the hut time back to two nights and spent the first night in Republic. We lied to the innkeeper at The Prospector Inn and told him we had a AAA card. We saved a whopping 2.75 for a room rate of 52.25. That's pretty cheap for a clean room. Upon asking for dining advice, we found out we could eat at Madonna's or the Sportman bar and grill. Good thing smoking is banned in taverns, or I don't think I would have convinced Francine to eat in a tavern. Little did we know this was probably the highlight of the trip. The burgers were excellent and they even had Mac-N-Jacks on tap. Better yet, the lively crowd of about 18 locals started buying rounds for the whole bar. After one free round, we had to decline the second round, since that would exceed our two beer limit.

Well, we got up Monday morning, drove to Sherman Pass and hefted our heavy packs and headed towards the shelter.

Upon starting up we noticed that the snow had not frozen up the night before, and was very unconsolidated. Also, there was not much snow on the ground. If the pass had been any lower then 5,575', I don't think we would have had any snow. We came to a Y in the trail and could go either way to go around Sherman Peak. Unfortunately we went the wrong way and ended up on a Southerly exposure where we were sinking through the snow. We decided to turn around and go the other way around Sherman Peak. This probably wasted an hour and then when we did get around the peak we discovered the snowpack had melted out to the point where we would have to climb around bushes and over rocks. We decided after 3 hours of skinning to turn around and head home.
Oh well, sounded like a good trip. The free beers were good.

First turn around, notice Francine's left pole has sunk all the way into the snowpack.

Final turnaround. Time to head home

March 15, Chair Peak Circumnavigation

With 3 inches of new snow over the rain crust from earlier in the week, Thursday looked like the day to tour. I got a leisurely start, meeting Frank at Alpental, at 10:30. We rode the chairlifts to get a mechanical lift to start our tour. Frank had not done the circumnavigation of Chair Peak and was looking forward to seeing how the route looked in the winter. He had previously hiked the route in summer. We traversed out from Alpental to Piss Pass and then down into the Great Scott bowl area. We then put on our skins and headed up to the pass between Bryant and Chair Peak. We were able to skin most of the way, except for a short section we decided to boot pack up. From Bryant Pass down to Melakwa Lake was buttery smooth with lots of good turns. The skins came back out for the climb to Melakawa Pass, a huge talas field in the summer time. Then it was a short descent to Chair lake, and several good turns down to Snow Lake. Probably the best section was skiing from Chair lake down to Snow Lake. In the summer it is a nice waterfall. Today it was an excellent ski pitch. The waterfall was just starting to reappear from it's winter hibernation. Frank got a good line down the gully, and I stayed a little higher and got a nice steep line. It was a good skin to get to the far end of Snow Lake then we had one final climb up to Snow Lake divide to finish our tour. Our legs were tired, but it had been an excellent day of skiing with good snow on all aspects. Even our final ski down to source lake and back to Alpental was excellent. Tour time 4 hours.

March 10, Hyak Skin and Ski race

Image taken by Greg before he decided to catch up.

The Snoq. Summit nordic center decided to do a low key Tele/AT/whatever festival which included a race. I showed up about 10:30 and the race had a whopping 4 people signed up. I signed my name on the clipboard and was ready to go. I chatted with Joe from Outdoor Research, who had been talked into putting the race together. There was a little concern that John, the nordic manager, thought we could just race up to the bottom of chair 2 and back. Luckily with a little persuasion, Joe convinced him to let the race go to the top of creek run and down serpentine. It probably helped that Rick, the Trab rep, was standing next to Joe in full randonee race glory, tight racer tights with euro bright orange coloring and big TRAB logos. As we got closer to the 11 o'clock start time, people started appearing out of the woodwork. We ended up with almost 30 racers. The race would be one or two laps, depending on your preference. Turned out to be an excellent race. Thanks to Joe, OR, and all the Hyak vollies for putting on the race. Scott Coldiron came from Spokane to show us what a real racer looks like and took first place and a sweet OR coat. Yours truly picked up second, with a telemarker on skinny skis in hot pursuit. Greg Louie showed up 5 minutes after the race started and decided to join in. He ended up only about ten minutes behind me!

March 8, Kendall Peak area

Plan was to circumnavigate Chair Peak with a lift assist from Alpental. Unfortunately the 6 inches of new muck slowed down the opening of the BC gates. Took a couple lift runs with Frank then we drove down to Sahalie and skinned up to the Kendall Peak area. Snow was a little thick, but the scenery was great and the snow was smooth.