Oval Peak Ski Mountaineering

Oval Peak (8,795ft)

David approaching the summit

Eric and David

February 11/12, 2017

We left the Twisp River Sno Park at 6am Saturday morning and skinned up about 9 miles to the west buttermilk trailhead. After following the trail for about 3 miles we cut up into the woods on the right. It was very steep and slow going on the skis, but an hour after dark we reached a flat area around 6500ft and set up camp.

The next morning we left camp around 5:45am, ascended an even steeper slope, then reached a big plateau east of the peak. We ascended the east ridge of oval peak, and were forced to ditch our skis just above treeline. There were too many boulders sticking out for it to be skiable. We continued climbing, avoiding huge cornices on the right side of the ridge, and summitted at 9:30am.

The ski back to camp was amazing, but descending from camp to the trail was difficult in the dense trees. We eventually reached the road, which was compacted by snowmobiles, and arrived at the car at 5:30pm, ready for the long drive back to Seattle.

Mt Osceola Alpine Ice Climbing

Osceola Dog Leg Slide Alpine Ice Climbing

Kyle climbing one of the WI2 bulges

February 4, 2017
Eric, David, Kevin, Kyle, Mike, Ana, John, Donald, Greg, Nicholas

We parked at Greeley Ponds trailhead, and walked down the Kanc for 1 mile to the East Pond trailhead, which is currently unplowed. From here we hiked up the east pond trail until about a quarter mile beyond the stream crossing, then cut left into the woods near a large boulder on the right.

A bit of bushwhacking led us to the main slide, where we split up into four rope teams, two groups of three and two groups of two. After staggering our starts, there was plenty of room in the gully to accommodate all climbers.

The route was a bit snowy, so only had about 3 or four short pitches of WI2 or so ice, but we had fun climbing the snow in between and practicing mountaineer rope coils.

At the top of the climb we followed a secret trail to the summit of Osceola, then had fun glissading back to the cars. In all it was about a 10-hour round trip.

Mount Lowell Ice Climb

Rapping the route

Mt Lowell, Unnamed route on SW face (WI 3)

Eric and Dave

February 3, 2017

We left Boston at 5:30am Friday morning, seeking an ice climbing place where there would be no crowds. That weekend was the annual New England Ice Fest, and all the usual places would likely have lines. Not Mount Lowell. The ice there was not in any guidebook, and it’s unclear if it’s ever been climbed. It also required a 6-mile hike in plus some bushwhacking. There was a good chance we’d have it all to ourselves.

I’d seen a broad 250ft tall cliff on the side while hiking up Mt Carrigain years ago, and had wanted to check it out for a while. By 9:30am we were on the trail hiking. We pulled sleds on the mostly flat trail, and encountered a few other hikers descending the mountain. A few hours later we reached the height of land in Carrigain notch, and saw a few promising ice lines on the cliff on the southwest face of Mt Lowell.

We kept hiking until we’d seen the whole cliff, and chose to climb the line on the far left (north) side of the cliff. We would have to save the other lines for another time.

A short bushwhack, then a snowfield climb led us to the base of the cliff and a wide WI3 flow of yellow ice all the way up the cliff. Dave led up with me belaying in the snow. When Dave reached the end of the rope, we started simul-climbing until Dave reached the trees above and built an anchor. The climb was fun, but it was hard to keep my hands warm in the cold.

It’s unclear if the route has been climbed before, but we left a rappel anchor so now anyone else going in will know it has been climbed. We rapped down, and started the long hike back to the car, reaching it by 7pm.


Robinson Mountain (attempt)

Robinson Mountain (8,726 ft)

Birkan on the summit ridge

Eric and Birkan

January 28-29, 2016

Robinson Mountain is one of the few Washington Hundred Highest mountains with a trailhead that is reasonably accessible in the winter. With a good weather forecast, we drove out to near Mazama Friday night and camped out in the car at the Yellow-Jacket sno-park. By 5:45am Saturday morning we started hiking the 3 miles to the trailhead on snowmobile trails.

The trail was (unsurprisingly) not broken, and we spent the next 9 hours breaking trail. Shortly before sunset we reached a flat area at 6,5000ft in the cirque southeast of the peak, and  pitched camp. I had a bit of extra energy, so while Birkan was melting snow I broke out a trail up to the SE ridge to  give us a head start the next morning.

We were hiking by 6am the next morning, and soon gained the ridge. The conditions were tricky, with the snow deep enough to warrant snowshoes, but steep enough to want crampons. We carefully avoided cornices, and at one point pitched out a short 4th class section. By 9am we determined our progress was much too slow to reach the summit that day, so we bailed out and descended back to camp. We made it back to the car that afternoon, and back to Seattle that night.

Keechelus Ridge

Keechelus Ridge (5,151 ft)

Eric, David, Birkan, Julia

January 22, 2016

Keechelus Ridge is one of the few mountains near Seattle that you can count on to have a broken trail. This is because most of the route is on a popular groomed snowmobile trail. With snowy weather predicted, we thought this would be a good chance to get some mellow backcountry skiing in.

We started hiking up Sunday morning, with me towing my backpack and skis up in a sled, Birkan hiking up, and David and Julia skinning up in their backcountry skis. The road zig-zagged up the mountain, and we were passed occasionally by snowmobilers. By about 1pm we reached the end of the groomed trail at a big radio tower, and Birkan and I pushed a quarter mile farther along the ridge to tag the true summit.

On the way down Birkan made good use of the sled, while everyone else skied, for a fun decent back to the car.

Gold Mountain

Gold Mountain (1,761ft)

Eric Gilbertson

January 16, 2017

I headed out to the Olympic Peninsula on Monday and hiked about 4 miles up to the summit of Gold Mountain. There were great views of the Olympic Mountains just to the west, and an awesome lenticular cloud was forming on Rainier to the east, signaling the bad weather coming soon. I was the only one on basically the whole hike, and had no trouble reaching the summit.

Rampart Ridge (Attempt)

Eric Gilbertson

January 15, 2017

I headed out on I-90 on Sunday morning at parked in the Gold Creek sno-park near Snoqualmie Pass. This is an extremely popular place for snowshoers and snowmobilers. I hiked up the groomed snowmobile trail for a few miles, then ditched my skies and started bushwhacking through the deep snow in the woods. After a few more tiring hours I reached Lake Lillian, then climbed higher to the ridge above. The trail breaking had slowed me down, and it was close to sunset at the top of the ridge with the summit still far away, so I turned around early. I soon made it back to my skis and had a fun ski down back to the car.

Mt Hood

Mt Hood – 11,239ft

Eric and Katie

January 14, 2017

We drove down to Oregon Friday night and slept in the parking lot at Timberline Lodge. Saturday morning was sunny and we started hiking at sunrise carrying skis. We dropped the skis at the top of the lifts, and continued hiking up the south side route. There were about 40 other people on the mountain, and the view from the top was awesome. We skied all the way back down the the car arriving around 2pm, with plenty of time to drive back to Seattle.

Blowdown Mountain

Blowdown Mountain – 4,560ft

January 12, 2017

I left town at 1:30pm after work and was soon hiking up the Mt Si trail. I reached the base of Mt Si, but the scramble to the summit looked too icy to be safe. I changed to snowshoes, and continued breaking trail east along the ridge until I reached Blowdown Mountain at sunset. There were, not surprising for a wednesday night, no other people. I retraced my steps and was back to the car by 6:45pm.


Kendall Knob BC Ski

Kendall Knob #2 (4,720ft)

Eric, Aaron, Anna

January 7, 2016

We hiked up from Snoqualmie pass through the woods to the top of a small local maximum north of the ski resort. There were plenty of other backcountry skiers up there, and we summitted just before the bad weather rolled in. It was tricky skiing through the dense trees to get back to the car, but fun.