Dec 23. Snoqualmie Mt., Crooked almost, and South Ridge

Met up with Seth to search Snoqualmie Mt. for some good snow.  Headed up the phantom slide path, across from Alpental ski area.  The dust on crust, fresh snow, made for sonme difficult skinning, and we resorted to booting several sections.  We paused briefly at the entrance to the slot couloir, then headed to the summit.  Standing on top, the views were outstanding.  We were lured into the crooked couloir by the expanse of fresh snow.  I had heard reports that the slot couloir had beeen skied multiple times this year, but had not heard anything about the crooked.   The guidebook, by Martin Volken, recommends a rope for the crooked, due to an ice buldge that appears occasionally.  I have always found the crooked to be steep, but never in need of a rope.  Well today, with our shallow snowpack, the crooked appeared more as a waterfall than a ski run.  We skied as far down as we could, and I scouted out a short drop into the couloir from the treed side slope.  Unfortunately just out of view the run started to roll over.  Unable to ascertain whether or not the next section was snow or an ice formation, we turned tail and booted/skinned back up to the shoulder of Snoqualmie.  We dropped the South slopes/ridge down to Cave Ridge and around the back side of Guye Peak, then out to the Sahalie ski area.   Turns were excellent down the crooked and the South Ridge.  As I headed to an early Xmas eve dinner, our tracks glowed in sunshine on Snoqualmie's South ridge.  A very nice day.

First boot of the day, alongside the Phantom waterfall

Good skinning up high

Seth on the summit with views of Rainier in the distance.

Drop in, here?

A little skittery on the first turns

Getting better

This waterfall is normally the gut of the crooked couloir.  Could use a lot more snow.  We could have dropped in at this point, but were worried about more ice further down, with no retreat.

Retreat. the long boot back.

Still going

Last pitch back to the shoulder of Snoqualmie

The legs kept trying to cramp, the tour took several unplanned turns, but overall was a great tour.  The unplanned exit via the South Ridge, provided some excellent  turns.

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