Amabilis Mountain

I had MLK's birthday off and Gary was free too. Time for my first cross country ski trip of the season. We met at 7:30 am and headed east. There was more snow the last few days. We chose to head to east of Snoqualmie Pass to Cabin Creek and ski the road up Amabilis and/or the course at the base. Avalanche danger was considerable everywhere and we did not plan on going above the junction on Amabilis. The lot was mostly empty when we arrived. The grooming snow cat was parked right at the start near the road. The road was groomed. With the snow nicely packed down and the track set we envisioned a quick trip part way up Amabilis Mountain. We quickly reached the junction where we found....the road up was not groomed. We decided to take a lap around the groomed course first. Perhaps the rod up Amabilis would be groomed when we finished.

We turned onto the start of the groomed course and found a couple trees down across the route. No grooming on the other side. The course looked to have been groomed a day or two earlier. The trees must have just fallen. They would be the first of a number of trees that had recently fallen. The skiing was not bad even without being freshly groomed. A few inches of snow atop the packed surface. There looked to be one skier's track visible. I used to ski this course several times each year when it was the only non commercial groomed course near Snoqualmie Pass. It had been probably 7 or 8 years since I had last skied it. I remembered much of the course but not as clearly as I expected. There are a number of hills along the way. Though none are particularly long, added together there is a fair bit of elevation to gain and lose.

The trees were heavily flocked with fresh snow. Very pretty to look at. The snow was heavy enough to cause trees to fall over. We passed several more that lay almost all the way across the route. None were big enough that they could not be sawed out in a few minutes each. Still, it was a pain to go down one hill very slowly to be able to get around the top of a tree. Those were the exceptions. Most of the way was just fine. We saw several folks as we went around the course. Nothing like the crowds that are always there on a weekend afternoon. The early start made it much more enjoyable.

By the time we finished our loop we had nearly four miles under our belts. It took us about one hour. We skied back to the start of the Amabilis Road to find... no grooming had been done. Oh well, the grooming is a fairly recent addition on that road. For many years we skied it with no grooming at all. A nice trench was in place. Ski and snowshoe tracks were seen. Up we went. After some very cold trips the last few weeks this one was much different. It was just below or above freezing all day. I had to roll up my shirt sleeves and just had very light polypro on my arms. With no wind it was plenty warm heading uphill. It was just 9:30 am when we started up and the crowds had not yet arrived. We had near total solitude on the way up.

Last winter was so snow free that I only had two ski trips. Both required me to do part with snowshoes due to the icy conditions. It was really nice to ski on fresh snow. I had a number of near falls but I got back in the groove well enough to manage to stay upright the whole day. I never get sore legs from hiking or snowshoeing. I definitely did from skiing. A few muscles that don't get worked by hiking. We stopped at the junction about 2.5 miles up the road. Tracks headed off in each direction. With the steep open slopes above and all the sloughing seen above the road we ascended we had no plans to go higher. Live to ski another day. Up to that point it is all in deep forest and there is not much danger.

I was curious how I would do skiing down the somewhat narrow trench. I need not have worried. It was not very fast. The corners were wide enough to snowplow around. Very good conditions for a first time out. Though the snow was slow it was a whole lot faster than going up. We stopped at the switchback that has a bit of a view out for an early lunch. The view from the junction above was nearly non existent. The last mile up we skied in the clouds and they blocked all the views. We saw a number of groups heading up as we descended and they all moved out of the trench to let us pass.

Just before reaching the main road at the bottom we turned right onto part of the course. A minute later the way was blocked by a tree all the way across. A route had tracks back to the main road right beside the course. We chose to follow the main road to the end and return. That added more than a mile each way. The road was now full of skiers and much slicker than it had been in the morning. It was fast but oh so slick. On the way down the road we had to go around several more  down trees. One was big enough to create a bottleneck where one skier at a time could get by. The skiing was good and we turned around at the end and headed back. It was 12:40 when we took off our skis and walked back to the parking lot. We skied for 4:05 including a number of breaks and photo stops. The 11 miles with 1500' of elevation gain seemed to go by so fast. Much faster than I can go on snowshoes.

We had a very nice day. The early start allowed us to avoid most of the eventual crowds for most of the day. The heavily flocked trees did mess up the grooming schedule as a number of then fell over. The scene the snow created was very beautiful however. Not a bad price to pay for the scenery. I hope the snow hangs around this winter. I would love to get in a few more ski trips.

The lot Was Nearly Empty
Starting Out
Bent Over Tree
Beautiful Trees
Lower Course
Short Downhill
Heading Up Amabilis
Going Higher
Rounding A Bend
Junction (Non) View
Tracks Leading Higher
Lunch Stop
Skiing Down
Main Road
A Little Slick
Highlighted By Snow
Now There's A Crowd
Lot Is Now Packed
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2016