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| |-+  June 2006 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  June 8-10, Snowking Mountain
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Author Topic: June 8-10, Snowking Mountain  (Read 2293 times)
chris_fast
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June 8-10, Snowking Mountain
« on: 06/13/06, 12:31 PM »

My buddy Jim flew up from Tahoe to experience the North Cascades for the first time, so I decided that Snowking would provide the full range of Washington backcountry experiences:  long slogs on logging roads, bushwacks through old-growth forest, alpine solitude, glacier skiing, and great springtime slush skiing.

Unfortunately, it also provided a wonderful example of North Cascades weather.  The NOAA weather report called for mostly cloudy with 20% possibility of precip for 6/8-6/9 and partly cloudy with 20% PoP for 6/10-6/11.  We got 100% cloudy and 100% PoP.  The weather followed the pattern of:  clouds, fog, rain, sucker hole, clouds, fog, rain, sucker hole, repeat.

Two years ago when I skied Snowking I vowed to come back for a run down the Mutchler Glacier, so that was our goal.  However, we only got momentary glimpses of the mountain, and neither of us was fired up about the long traverse from Snowking to Mutchler in a white out.  Instead, after summiting Snowking on Friday 6/9, we skied around to the base of point 7400 on the large glacier on the north side of the mountain and had a excellent run down to the valley bottom - apart from the problem of having only 50 feet of visibility while seeking to avoid weak snow bridges.  Blue glacier ice was exposed at the very bottom of the glacier, but there was a ribbon of soft snow between it and the rock wall which connected with the valley floor. The run down the Found Lakes drainage was really enjoyable and it is highly recommended if you have time for an extra run on Snowking.  The boot back up to our camp above Cyclone Lake took only an hour or so.

The descent to the car on Saturday was unremarkable until we lost the climber's trail at snow line in the old growth.  We ended up one gully too far to the north but eventually ended up on the decommissioned and overgrown logging road at approx 2600'.  We also ran into some strange militia types clad in cammo and packing large handguns.

Photos to follow soon (of the skiing, not the militia types)!

APPROACH NOTES:  The summer trail shown leaving the end of the decommissioned road on my 1999 revised USGS topo does not exist.  The washout referred to in the Burgdorfer guide is at 2,400' and the road beyond is nearly impassable.  The climber's trail leaves the road just before the washout and is currently well marked with flagging tape.  The first 400' vert of the trail, however, is a wet, wet bushwack if it has rained recently.  You will park at 1,300' at the big log and bigger washout and walk about 2 miles on the road to the upper washout and trailhead.
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skykilo
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Re: June 8-10, Snowking Mountain
« Reply #1 on: 06/13/06, 12:57 PM »

Too bad about the weather, but it sounds like you made it work.  That sure looks like good skiing over there; I gotta ski Snowking someday.
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cascadesfreak
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Re: June 8-10, Snowking Mountain
« Reply #2 on: 06/14/06, 10:15 AM »

Nice TR!  Thanks for the approach update.
You will park at 1,300' at the big log and bigger washout and walk about 2 miles on the road to the upper washout and trailhead.
Is the road still heavily-covered with fallen trees? (seemed like I was constantly weaving through down-fall on the entire road approach ~4 years ago, after hand-sawing through several trees blocking the road to get the car up to the first washout).
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chris_fast
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Re: June 8-10, Snowking Mountain
« Reply #3 on: 06/14/06, 10:55 PM »

Nice TR!  Thanks for the approach update. Is the road still heavily-covered with fallen trees? (seemed like I was constantly weaving through down-fall on the entire road approach ~4 years ago, after hand-sawing through several trees blocking the road to get the car up to the first washout).


The road is clear to the big washout at 1300'.  I think I weaved around one large branch.  After the washout there are just a couple trees across the road, which don't present any hinderance to hiking.  The section after the final switchback as you near the trailhead is starting to turn into a tunnel of alders, which could eventually turn into a wall of alders in a few more years.  I don't see the USFS spending a penny on that road or the climbers' trail any time soon, so it's probably only going to get worse.
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