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+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
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| |-+  March 2014 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  March, 22, 2014 Snoqualmie Mtn- Middle Fork ski
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Author Topic: March, 22, 2014 Snoqualmie Mtn- Middle Fork ski  (Read 1666 times)
Pete A

Posts: 845

March, 22, 2014 Snoqualmie Mtn- Middle Fork ski
« on: 03/23/14, 12:27 PM »

Skiing the ‘middle fork’ descent on Snoqualmie Mtn has been on the to-do list for a while…yesterday Becky, Andy, Dave, and I finally did it, and it may be a while before we try it again  Wink

Left Alpental at 7:45, one other party of two ahead of us.  Skinning up west of the phantom in the trees was straightforward, ski crampons came in handy.   The last 1000vf above treeline still had a strong suncrust on top, but the skin track was a highway from all the Slot-bound traffic on Friday.   Topped out and ran into the two fellows, Erik & Dave, who we saw in the parking lot. Surprisingly they were bound for the Middle Fork as well and it was new terrain to them too.   
They took off and we were about fifteen minutes behind them.   The upper notch into the Crooked Couloir was dust on firm and one of us kicked off a small, shallow slab of the newest snow.  Once into the upper bowl of the Crooked, we veered to the right to see where Erik and Dave had popped over the ridge.  They found an entrance into the Middle Fork drainage around 5700ft- it went, but it was very steep and looked rather sporty…and we got a nice view of an easy entrance and some lovely 30 degree powder if we tossed the skins back on.  So we re-skinned and climbed to about 6000ft towards the east summit of Snoqualmie.   From there we ripped skins and had some fantastic calf powder to the flats at 5000ft.   

From 5000ft on down, one basically runs just east of the main ridge between north slope of Snoqualmie and Thunder Creek- we stopped at a couple points along the way where we thought maybe we could get into Thunder Ck earlier than the standard turnaround points beginning at 3000ft but they were a no-go.

At around 3700ft the ridge broadens into a densely treed fan and with the thicker trees and lower elevation, the snowpack gets pretty thin.   We followed a gully down (see google earth image), but occasionally had to veer into the trees where it was side-stepping, veggie belays, and 6” of snow over forest duff.  After a couple hundred feet of shinanigans, we were out in the open again, and skied semi-covered slide alder down to our low point of 2800ft.   

We saw Erik and Dave’s skin track climbing a parallel creek/gully, so we followed-  we probably should’ve bashed our way around in more of a traverse to get into Thunder Creek drainage, but we weren’t about to complain as we didn’t have to break trail.    We followed the gully to 3500ft where it ended in terrain that we couldn’t traverse, so it was time to rip the skins again and drop 400ft.   Once into Thunder Creek proper it was very straightforward skinning back up past the base of the Circus Couloir and then into the familiar terrain of the Crooked/Slot exits of the upper basin.   
Skinned, then booted the exit notch back over to the Phantom and we were pleasantly surprised that despite the cloud cover and wind, there wasn’t  too much of a crust reforming just yet.   Two thousand feet of mashed potatoes in the phantom got us back to the car at 5pm.  We were rather surprised that all our ups and downs added up to 6,500vf for the day….the quads are feeling all of that this morning.

Next time- we might wait for a year with a bigger low elevation snowpack, and next time we’ll probably try to bash in a traverse to that gully at 3500ft that we skinned up vs descending further east.   

Very fun day all in all, thanks to Becky, Dave, and Andy for the company, and THANK YOU Dave and Erik for the skin track!

pics here

A little video of the nicer snow up high:

* google_earth1.jpg (250.24 KB, 1000x795 - viewed 721 times.)
« Last Edit: 03/23/14, 03:58 PM by Pete Alderson » Logged

Posts: 648

Re: March, 22, 2014 Snoqualmie Mtn- Middle Fork ski
« Reply #1 on: 03/23/14, 01:16 PM »

Looks dope. Most jealous
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