Old Snowy, Elevation 7,930ft
Ben, Troy, Charlie, Josh, Jason
Old Snowy from Lutz Lake. Ski descent from the summit is in red and continues down the basin to our camp near where the snow meets the thick trees. Mount Gilbert is seen on the far left.
This is probably my favorite location in the Goat Rocks. This was the second of several ski trips that I've made to this area. It began and ended with the promise to return. However, things didn't go too smoothly during our arrival.
When Troy and I met Charlie at his house near Yakima he was about ready to bail on us. His dad wanted him to mow the lawn that weekend and he had neglected to do it the night before. We convinced him that it was never to late so he jumped on the riding mower while I helped pack his gear. Troy decided to head up by himself because we were supposed to meet the Hummels at the trailhead and he didn't want to keep them waiting. Meanwhile, I watched Charlie buzz around the lawn as if he were competing at some redneck competition. We eventually left town about an hour behind plus a ten-minute grocery stop on the way. One good thing about this area is that it's less than an hour from our house to the trailhead.
Charlie and I finally made it to the trailhead and found that Troy and the Hummels had already left. The funny thing is that Troy was the only one with a Trail Park Pass so we had planned to carpool from the highway. We ended up with three cars at the trailhead. The result was two tickets. Oh well, the weather looked promising and we were within several hours of snow so I had little reason to complain. We hiked the first four miles through forest to where the trail met the PCT. Troy and the Hummels were waiting there. The ground was covered in several feet of snow by now so we put on our ski boots. Staying on the trail was difficult for the next 3 miles. We got lost but eventually found our way to the obvious meadows (covered in snow of course) below our camp.
We made it to camp in less than ideal weather conditions (pissing rain). We set up the tents and decided to do a little skiing before dark. The obvious line was a wide chute due south from our camp. We made a boot pack up the chute and took several runs down the 1500 vertical foot face.
Skiing the chute above camp (follow Charlie's head until the snow hits the trees, that's where we camped). Note the creek starting to poke through near our camp.
There are benefits of camping near trees, especially when there's nobody within miles. Campfires provide a great way to dry out wet clothes and they keep you warm during the chilly spring evenings. The reflection in the snow helps brighten things up and there's nothing like a toasted hotdog after a hard day's work.
Chilling by the fire. Ever hear of juggling hot coals? I hadn't either before this trip. TheHummels have a long history of stupidity.
The clouds remained throughout the night and the weather was questionable the following morning. There were signs of clearing so we decided to go for the summit. Skins were the method of choice due to the gradual slopes that led to the summit.
Charlie skinning above camp.
The higher we got, the better things looked.
The clouds went away just as we reached the top (seen in the background).
We reached the top after two to three hours of skinning, hiking, and questioning the weather. All doubts were left behind as we marveled the scenery. It appeared as though we were the first to climb Old Snowy that year. The summit register confirmed our observation. We became the first to sign in during 1999. It turns out that Josh and I would be the last (see Old Snowy, Winter 99).
TheHummels on top. Mount Gilbert is seen in the background.
We were all looking forward to the corn snow so we didn't spend too much time on top. It greeted us all the way back to camp. We made it back in less than an hour. I took several photos along the way to remind us of the excellent snow.
Charlie making good use of the wide-open terrain and consistent snow.
The sun had dried our tents and the temperature had warmed up significantly. Maybe the hike out wouldn't be so bad after all. Regardless, we decided to chill for awhile and enjoy the sun.
Back at camp and in no hurry to leave. Note the creek breaking through on the left.
Our lines above camp. Ourboot pack can barely be seen in the main chute, right center. We also skied the narrow center chute and the left and right slopes.
We packed up and took one last look at our lines. We were very pleased with the amount of skiing that we managed to get in considering the weather constraints of the first day. The second day confirmed our need to return. We got lost on the way out but it was no biggy.
"I know exactly where we are… I've been lost here before."