Spent this weekend touring in the Entiat Range. This zone is a Central Washingtonian slice of heaven. Far enough from the city to keep the West side urbanites away. Yet close enough to home for a quick overnight winter wilderness experience. The approach starts pretty low, so this sweet slice of remoteness requires motorized assistance. Thursday night, I got a call from a friend with a sled. He had a relaxing plan for an alpine overnighter. I accepted the invite, and we started out well before sunrise on Saturday.
PNW Conditions Sidenote We had an epic February in the PNW. Eighty inches at my house. Close to 30 inches down in town. I skied a lot of days... most were in powder. All of the low hanging fruit was in play. From town, there were artistic lines visible all over the foothills. My backyard skied better than ever. It stayed good for the entire month. March has been a completely different story. Temps averaged 15 degrees above normal for the entire month. It went from Winter to Spring in a matter of 72 hours... and it has stayed that way.... 75 and sunny in the valley today. The Snowpack is still pretty plump up high, but the low elevation snowpack has completely vanished. All of my days in March were spent harvesting corn... all good, but I guess it depends on how you look at it... typically we get about 40 to 50 inches in March. I feel like we got robbed of a few powder days in exchange for early corn.
The Entiat snow-park is about an hour from Wenatchee. The road goes West for 35 miles to the Eastern edge of the Glacier Peak Wilderness. The county stops plowing at mile 25. The remainder of the road is groomed for SnoMos. We started at 1.8k at the end of the plowed road. Six miles of flat cruising, then about 15 miles ascending. The forest road was recently groomed, so the sled ascent only took about an hour. We parked at 6.5k, skinned about 5 miles and set camp at about 7.1k. Saturday afternoon was quite warm… Sunday morning was quite cold. From camp we skied several North and West facing lines on Crow Hill (7.4k). The snow was good down to about 6k, so we were able to make enjoyable laps that consisted of some pretty good vert. 7.5k is the timberline is this region, so the terrain was pretty treeless up high and lightly treed lower down. For snow, we found a little bit of everything. Preserved powder in the shaded areas, sweet creamy corn in exposed areas, a crusty coral reef below 6k. We stayed mostly low angle as we spotted a few natural slides on steeper slopes on the walk in. It was a great weekend in the Mountains.
Wow. What an awesome trip. There is so much terrain, how do you choose?
There is tons of terrain out this way, but we were pretty lazy. We basically took the low hanging fruit. Each of us was carrying about 40lbs. It goes without saying that ascending as well as descending with that kind of load can be cumbersome. The strategy was to find a safe spot to drop the overnight gear, and stay pretty close to the tent. Both of us had been here before, so we had some familiarity with the terrain. We lucked out in finding good snow within a 30 minute walk from camp.