|Mt. Rainier, south side:
Paradise - Mazama Ridge - Cowlitz Rocks - Panorama Point
Eighteen backcountry randonee and telemark skiing photos and snow images of Paradise, Mazama Ridge, Panorama Point, Cowlitz Rocks, Paradise Glacier, and the Tatoosh Range. The south side of Mt. Rainier around Paradise can be all that the name implies, at least on an uncrowded weekday with good visibility. On crowded weekends or in storminess it's a different story. Nonetheless, with year-round road access to 5500 feet, Paradise offers great trips spanning the entire range of backcountry skiing: beginner cross-country skiing, long telemark skiing tours with plenty of turning, and long boot up-ski down snowboarding, randonee or telemark skiing runs. In addition, the Paradise area has some of the easiest access, and smoothest, snow for summer into fall ski trips, and it is typically not found on the Muir snowfield.
|Mt. Rainier, south side:
Muir snowfield - Camp Muir
Eighteen photos from backcountry skiing and snowboarding trips to the Muir Snowfield. It can be difficult to find good skiing on Mt. Rainier's Muir snowfield: the 4500' vertical between Paradise and Camp Muir means the snow is often good only for part of the distance, and high winter winds often scour some areas and pile up large sastrugi in others. When conditions are good, however, there are lots of great runs to be found, and the scenery is always spectacular. The Muir snowfield typically gets pretty unpleasant toward the end of summer, with huge dirty suncups and cracks, but early fall snowfall can bury those defects and provide excellent backcountry snowboarding and skiing sconditions.
|Mt. Rainier, northwest side:
Mowich Lake - Spray Park - Flett Glacier - Russell Glacier
Eighteen landscape and skiing photos from summer backcountry trips to the northwest side of Mt. Rainier. There is excellent backcountry skiing terrain in Spray Park and on the Flett Glacier and adjacent areas, nestled on a shoulder of Mt. Rainier between the Carbon Glacier and North Mowich Glacier. Access is available nearly year-round from the Carbon River valley, but involves a lengthy approach. Somewhat easier access is possible from Mowich Lake, but typically only from July through October, and the approach is still fairly demanding. Long ski tours are a big attraction in Spray Park, where multiple ribbons of snow descending in different directions invite exploring and can provide long backcountry skiing runs. North-facing glacial pockets and active glaciers help preserve the snow in good condition well into summer, but also present objective dangers to the backcountry skier.
|Mt. Rainier, northeast side:
Grand Park - Sunrise - Burroughs Mountain - Berkeley Park
Nineteen photos from ski trips in June and July. On the northeast side of Mt. Rainier, between the Emmons and Winthrop Glaciers, is perhaps the most extensive backcountry skiing terrain on The Mountain. With long ridges above treeline, waxless telemark skis work well for exploring the area by ski touring, but steep runs can also be found. Sunrise, Sourdough Ridge, Berkeley Park, Granite Creek Park, Burroughs Mountain, and Grand Park are some of the interconnected areas on this shoulder of Rainier. Access from the highest road in the Park, to Sunrise at 6400 feet, usually begins in early July, but much of the good backcountry skiing melts out before then, and map readers can discover other access points for earlier spring ski trips.
|Goat Rocks Wilderness Area:
Old Snowy - McCall Basin - Ives Peak - Mt. Curtis Gilbert
The Goat Rocks Wilderness Area in the south Washington Cascades Mountains encompasses a jagged crest of peaks reaching to around 8000 feet, remnants of an old volcanic complex. The west side of the Goat Rocks crest experiences complete melting of the snowpack each summer, but the east side holds many glacial pockets which persist year-round. With adequate snowpack, however, both side of the crest have extensive backcountry skiing terrain. The section between Old Snowy Mountain and Ives Peak has multiple passes which allow a skier to access backcountry skiing runs on both sides of the crest in a single day, and various loop tours are possible. The Mt. Curtis Gilbert area of the crest is somewhat isolated from the rest, but offers multiple possibilities for steep backcountry skiing. Nineteen photos from a five day June trip.
|Mt. Baker backcountry:
Mt. Herman - Shuksan Arm - Ptarmigan Ridge - Coleman Glacier
The Mt. Baker lift area is renowned for its heavy snowfall and great snowboarding, but the Mt. Baker backcountry offers the off-piste snowslider far more varied choices in terrain and a vastly extended season. When fresh snow limits trips covering long distances, great backcountry skiing and snowboarding can be found on the slopes of Table Mountain, Mt. Herman, and Shuksan Arm. When winter is over and forest roads begin to melt out, the north and south sides of Mt. Baker itself become accessible, opening great backcountry skiing and snowboarding destinations, including the summit of Mt. Baker. On the south side, the Easton Glacier and Squak Glacier offer long backcountry runs, as do Heliotrope Ridge and the Coleman Glacier on the north side. Eighteen photos from May, July, and December trips.
|Snoqualmie Pass backcountry:
Snoqualmie Mountain - Guye Peak - Nordic Pass
Snoqualmie Pass, sometimes affectionately known as Snowcrummy Pass, doesn't enjoy a reputation for great snow, but when the conditions are right, it's Snowquality Pass all the way. With low freezing levels and fresh powder snow, Snoqualmie Pass offers backcountry skiing in beautiful old-growth forest unmatched by most other destinations in the Washington Cascades, and it is only an hour's interstate drive from the Seattle metropolitan area. Most of the Snoqualmie Pass ski areas offer only moderately steep slopes, but the backcountry can be a different story, where steep runs, open and forested, abound, with attendant avalanche hazards. For times when the avalanche danger is high, there is great backcountry ski touring as well. Eighteen photos from December through May backcountry skiing trips.
|Mt. Adams Wilderness Area, north side:
Adams Glacier - Lava Glacier - Lyman Glacier - Pinnacle Glacier
Photos from June ski touring trips the the Lyman, Lava, Adams, and Pinnacle Glaciers on the north side of Mt. Adams. From a distance, Mt. Adams resembles Mt. Rainier, with many slopes between treeline and the upper mountain well suited for backcountry skiing. Looking closer at Mt. Adams reveals that it mostly lacks the large glacial troughs which isolate Mt. Rainier's various shoulders from each other, thus providing a huge expanse of backcountry skiing terrain for touring and turning. The South Climb route to the summit of Mt. Adams is well known (and often crowded) and has long runs, but the north flanks of the mountain hold the best ski touring terrain. From a well located base camp, a backcountry skier willing to deal with some glacier travel can create enough different routes to fill a week's worth of day trips.
West Cady Ridge to Benchmark Mountain
Located in the North Cascades, West Cady Ridge is another green-to-white ski tour. Cross a branch of a major Cascade river, ascend 1400 ft. through old-growth forest to a low saddle on West Cady Ridge, climb another 1200 ft. to get out of the trees and onto the Ridge itself, tour 5 miles (and another 1500 ft.) along the Ridge to its apex at Benchmark Mountain, and return to the car before dark. Bearing only scattered trees, most of the 5 mile ridge tour affords 360 degree views, and stunning they are because West Cady Ridge is located deep in the Cascades. Closeby to the northwest is the Monte Cristo range, to the northeast lies Glacier Peak, all around lie innumerable lesser peaks, and Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker are visible on clear days. Turning on the return trip from Benchmark Mountain can be extended by dropping off the top of the ridge, followed by a traversing climb to regain the ridge, multiple times, as a skier's energy allows. Waxless skis facilitate a seamless transition from descent to ascent to descent again.