Amabilis Mountain

Gary wanted to get out for another cross country ski trip. I did a headlamp hike on Thursday evening. Was I up for a 2000' gain ski trip? Of course! There was very little snow this week and no record of grooming. Would it be icy or good snow? Only one way to find out. We met at Eastgate at 7:15 am and headed east. It was 25 degrees at Snoqualmie Pass. Just after Hyak we had a "rolling slow down". Three WSDOT trucks set the pace on all three lanes. At about 20 mph. We had no idea why. We still don't. A few miles later they suddenly sped up to the speed limit. It added some time to our drive but not too much. We arrived at the Cabin Creek Sno-Park at about 8:10 am. The lot was a sheet of ice. Walking to the outhouse was a challenge. At least staying upright was a challenge. Not a good sign for skiing. We walked across the interchange to the start of the groomed track.

In the morning the groomer posted that the Kongsberger track had been groomed and that they would be grooming the Amabilis Road at 7:00 am. We hoped for the best. The track was freshly groomed and the snow conditions were excellent. A short ski along the flats and we started up the Amabilis Road. There were a few tracks since the groomer went through. Some footprints came and went. Snowshoe tracks came and went. One skier was ahead of us. Otherwise, the track was perfectly smooth. Very good timing and great conditions. There was not much new snow but enough to allow for me to control my speed coming down. At least it looked that way. We had no idea whether the grooming went up to the junction or all the way to the ridge top or even farther. The track was a little slick but we made consistent progress. About 1.5 miles up we met the grooming machine coming down. It was almost 2.5 hours since the Internet post suggested they would be grooming the Amabilis Road. Enough time to go way up the mountain and back down. We reached the junction at 2.7 miles. The right road was not groomed. The left one was. We went left.

I have been up Amabilis many times over the past 29 years. I had never been beyond the junction on groomed road. The way up was still very smooth. Part way up we found snowshoe tracks coming up and over the road and up the steep hillside. Rather than walk up the groomed track some folks went straight up the steep hillside. That must have been a lot more interesting than walking the road. It also kept the track smooth for us skiers. Very well done. Soon we met the long slier heading down. There were now no tracks on the freshly groomed road. It was 20 degrees at the start but it was much warmer now. Before reaching the ridge top I checked and the thermometer read 30 degrees. Much warmer.

The day was forecast to be mostly sunny. We had only a few small blue patches.  Nearing the ridge top it began to snow. We crested the ridge and the grooming kept going. While it was cold the wind had been very light. The ridge can be very windy and cold. The ridge top road continued to gain elevation at a moderate grade. One spot contours around a point and is often a hard icy downward slope. Skiing around it can be a bit nerve wracking. Not this day. The groomed road was nice and wide and level as it contoured around. We saw some old ski and snowshoe tracks partly filled in by new snow. The old clear cut with great views from years ago is now a forest. We finally  reached the end of grooming at 10:30 am. Ahead of us was just forest. A skate skier caught us right there. We skied up 5.5 miles with 2000' of elevation gain. in 2:10. He did it in just under one hour.

Now came the best part of the trip. Gary headed into the forest. A little up and a little down but mostly gentle terrain. Even some pink tape to show the way. In a short distance we came out at another snow covered road. The road heading downhill leads back to the junction at 2.7 miles. we stayed on the ridge top.There were old tracks mostly buried with new snow. In places the snow looked to be untouched. Skiing through heavily flocked trees and snowy meadows is a lot of fun. We stopped for lunch at about 11:00 am. I was very warm while moving but cooled down very fast. After lunch we went a little farther along the ridge before turning around. So far we saw one skier heading down and another at the end of grooming. Not bad for nearly six miles on a popular route. Before reaching the groomed route we met several other groups.

The trip down was a blast. I'm not a great skier and I was bit leg weary from Thursday's hike but the conditions were excellent. Easy descent along the ridge top. We passed a couple of folks heading up. From the ridge top to the junction was a blast. Slower than I expected but just right. The road was still pretty smooth. I stopped once for a couple photos and it took me 20 minutes to reach the junction. From there to the bottom that last 2.7 miles took 16 minutes. Gary went down just a bit faster than me.

We expected a mostly sunny day and questionable snow conditions. We had thick clouds, a little falling snow, and great snow conditions. Not a bad trade off at all. During my first decade or two the Amabilis Road was never groomed. In the last decade it has often been groomed to the junction. From there we usually did a counterclockwise loop on ungroomed snow and/or ice. This trip was almost entirely on groomed track. It was a little less adventure like but but a whole lot easier. Add in the untracked snow after the grooming and it added up great conditions. The downhill was a lot of fun too. All in all, a great day to be out skiing.

Icy Parking Lot
Starting Out
Freshly Groomed
Ascending Amabilis Road
Groomer Goes By
View Across Valley
Upper Road
Gary In Front
On Ridge Top
Gary Off Road
Back On Road
Setting A Track
Flocked Trees
Snowy Meadow
Lunch Time
Falling Snow
More Untouched Snow
Just One Track
Turn Around Spot
Shades Of White
Heading Back
Descending Upper Road
Lot Nearly Full
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2017