Sunday, February 8, 2009

Welcome Pass 2/7/2009

Welcome Pass was on our list for the whole year (since we failed to get to the top last year - not once but twice) and since forecast for Saturday called for a nice sunny day; we decided to give it a try. We met in Everett and headed up North. Even though we drove through some foggy areas reminding us of typical winter day, once we got to the clear parts we could see all the mountains out in their full glory and we knew it’ll be a great day.

Considering current conditions we expected to be dealing with hard packed snow and we weren’t too far from this estimate. What surprised us the most was the amount of snow in the area, or perhaps I should say the lack of snow. The route was snow patched with several completely bare sections all the way to 3800 ft where we finally found more solid snow coverage.

We ascended with no problems. Some of us used Yak Tracks, some chose not to use any traction devices. The snow deepened once we got closer to the pass and on the ridge. We had to do some trail breaking there but the powdery layer was shallow enough that snowshoes were not needed.

Once at the pass we continued to one of the viewing points where we took quick lunch, enjoying fantastic vistas of Baker and Shuksan. Then we explored little bit further where amazing views of Tomyhoi Peak, American Border Peak, Mt. Larabee, Goat mountain and many more opened for us. Amazing day to be up there!

Skyline Ridge 2/4/2009

Sometimes days just turn so good it feels it's too good to be true. Today was one of those days - sunny, blue sky, warm - those are few words that would briefly summarize today. It really felt more like a spring than a winter and it was absolutely awesome.

Rather than sticking to the road on our way in we cut it straight uphill, following trail created there by the weekend crowds (so glad we were able to get there mid-week). Popularity of this area combined with a lack of fresh snow made the trails so hard packed that snowshoes were not necessary. We brought them along in case we encounter deeper powder higher up or in case the snow softens later on being exposed to this extremely warm day but they ended having a fun ride on our packs both ways.

We arrived to the lake in good time and taking advantage of this gorgeous day, we headed for the ridge… and the views. This was by far the most exciting part of the trip. With just little more elevation gained, grand views opened on both sides and the trail here was lined with amazing snow formations.

What a fantastic day to be outside!