Title: February 14, 2004, Cave Ridge (5,270') via C. B.
Post by: MW88888888 on 02/15/04, 03:13 AM
Cave Ridge (5,270'), via Commonwealth Basin (2,900' Snoqualmie West)
2,370' vertical skied over ~5 miles round trip. Three hours car to car.
Snow Conditions: 102"-120" at Alpental, 3" new and snowing pretty hard.
The crux of the tour: open water crossings
I left the ski area parking lot at a comfortable 8 am and easily found the PCT by following the many trails now evident in the week old snow. The 3" of new blanketed the old in a now beautiful white frosting and it was snowing moderately hard as I began the climb into Commonwealth Basin. My mission: scope out Cave Ridge and environs. Maybe the S, SW storm was kind to the south facing basin. I couldn't complain about the snow conditions, as the week long snow hiatus was in many ways kind to the snow pack. It consolidated it without eroding too much base, and who can complain about bright sunshine?
This tour was best sampled with skis so today I had my randonee set up and cruised easily the superhighway of a trail left over from so many days of sunshine. Once in the Basin, the three stream crossings proved tame, and I found a very nice skin track heading quickly up the steep headwall guarding the col between Guye Peak and Cave Ridge.
Up high the snow was deeper, but it also appeared to be pretty slabby. I chose not to enter the Avy country leading to the summit of Snoqualmie alone in these conditions so I tic'ed off Cave Ridge summit and enjoyed the views.
The snow was ending and spotty sunshine warmed the snow quickly. I found the shaded trees and west and east facing slopes held deeper than expected powder, while anything exposed to the sun held a nasty buried crust. If anything, the conditions were perfect for fast travel and I blazed through the woods trying to be light as a feather yet strong as a birch tree.
On the descent I encountered many, many people (including what appeared to be the entire 5th grade of King County on a snowshoe tour. I wonder if any of them had beacons and shovels?) and was glad I was making a quick egress to save my solitary memories of the beautiful wilderness.
I eased back into the parking lot at 11 and quickly found myself home.