Snoqualmie Mountain - West Side

Hoping to steal an early season descent of Enigma Gully, Phil and I headed up the West side of Snoqualmie Mountain one Thursday morning under cloudy skies. We got a somewhat late start from the parking lot, around 10am, but someone ahead of us had already put in a skin track up the phantom run. (This is the avalanch swath that runs down into the ice climbs above the parking lot) After booting up the first couple hundred feet of the headwall we were able to ski up 1,500 more feet of perfect light snow on a sometimes icy base.

A very snowy larch.

We soon caught up with our trail breakers, and thus hung back to let them enjoy their first tracks (uphill, that is). However, they stopped for lunch 2/3rds the way to the top, so we carried on, breaking our own trail. Pancake Phil did most of the trail breaking because his breakfast had put him in studly form. The snow up here turned way crusty and wind blasted. We began to spread out and worry about slab avalanches. Luckily we found a nice path among the trees, and were soon reaching the upper slopes of Snoqualmie. I took over the lead and broke trail to a gully head on the edge of the mighty North Face. After one quick look, we realized that we were at the top of New York Gully (5.8 WI4 A1). Phil's pancakes were'nt THAT good of a motivator, so we continued the climb up to Enigma Gully. We had been doubtfull about it's conditions, and one look at the major wind slab at its top convinced us to turn around. We were also running short on time, and didn't want to cross the wind-loaded slopes up to the snow lake ridge at night.

Phil at the top of New York Gully.

Our former trail breakers arrived, and soon were laughing at me while I put on my new Avalung. I do admit they are pretty goofy, but you can't beat $20 at Feathered Friends for one. Phil and I ate a quick snack and quickly headed off, hoping to keep ahead of the other party. As it turned out, they caught up to us just as we were about to enter the icy forest just above the parking lot!

Phil skiing the crusty snow up high.

The ski down was fun, but crusty for the first 1,000 ft of the descent.

Phil skiing nice powder with Snoqualmie's cliffs in the backround.

The second 1,000 ft were sweet powder on a soft base. Below that, the Phantom run mustered up some icy based powder until we reached the forrest. We slipped down the forrest and were back in the Alpental parking lot before dark. As we waited for Emily and her friend Sarah to pick us up, we witnessed again why you should never deal with Qwest. Their esteemed employees were practicing their doughnuts in the parking lot right at other people's cars. We decided to wait on top of the snowbank. :)

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