North Shoulder Chair Peak Tour

The Best of Winter and Spring

March has been cold so far, dumping more light powder in our mountains. For a little Climate Corporation reunion, Jeff, Jack, Patti and I made a short Saturday morning tour in the Alpental Valley to get the snow before it warmed up in the strong March sun. It was a fantastic little tour to ski the north side of Chair Peak in perfect conditions.

It was a cold 18 degrees at the trailhead, but warmed up quickly once we entered the sun at Source Lake. We were in a spring furnace as we climbed above Source Lake to the Chair Peak Basin. The snowpack all around us was impressive considering where it was only one month ago.

Bryant Peak and couloir on the right.
Source Lake Line
Source Lake Line, a wickedly hard ice climb.

The skin was pretty easy all the way into the upper basin, where we had a magnificent view of Chair Peak.

Chair Peak Basin
Sunny morning in Chair Peak Basin.

There are a few ways to the north side. We chose the first notch in the ridge because it had a (sort of) skin track up it and seemed like the safest option.

Chair Peak Notch
Lots of kick turns up to this notch!

Once on the ridge, we skinned for a ways up and down to the base of the NE Buttress. The view of Chair was grand.

Chair Peak Ridge
Skinning towards the base of Chair Peak.
Chair Peak
Closeup of Chair Peak.

The view down towards Snow Lake was a magical land of pillowly snow features and not a single tree. Beyond, Glacier Peak, the Monte Cristo Peaks, and the Alpine Lakes Crest dominated. Truly alpine.

Snow Lake Panorama
Snow Lake and the North Central Cascades.
Pillowly Heaven
Gentle, pillowed snow all the way down… until the lower cliffs you cannot see.
Alpental Valley
Wonderful morning in the Alpental Valley.
Chair Peak Ridge
Windlip on the ridge.

Eventually, we reached the base of the NE Buttress. The ice on the route looked really good and the North Face also looked in prime condition. Maybe I’ll have to come back to climb it next weekend if conditions are still good! We watched a soloist starting up the route.

NE Buttress Soloist
Soloist on the classic NE Buttress.

We transitioned here and traversed out for the start of our run onto the north slopes of Chair. The snow was nearly bottomless, pretty light, and super playful! The terrain was awesome, moderately steep and perched high above Snow Lake in a beautiful position.

Jeff Shred 1
Jeff gets first tracks down towards Snow Lake.
Jeff Shred 2
Jeff making nice uniform turns all the way down.
Patti Shred
Patti goes next.
Jack Shred
Jack takes the last turn.
North Face of Chair
Jack smiling with the great snow.

We continued down and left through a wide couloir feature that gradually steepened before finally dropping down to Snow Lake.

North Slopes Chair Peak
More pretty turns down the couloir.
Jeff Pow 1
Jeff carving through the deep powder.
Jeff Pow 2
Jeff looking like he should be in some ski magazine.

Down at the lake, we took a nice break in the sun putting our skins back on.

Climate Group
The crew of Climate and ex-Climate shredders.
Snow Lake Line
Awesome blue ice flow on the shore of Snow Lake.

Next, we began the long skin across Snow Lake. This time it was sunny and calm, much better than my previous skin across the lake in a cold head wind.

Snow Lake
Snoqualmie Mountain at the end of Snow Lake.
Snow Lake Outlet
Bubbly clouds beyond the outlet of Snow Lake.
Snow Lake Sun
Sun shines through the trees.

When we got back to the top of the Snow Lake Divide, Patti and Jack took a break in the sun while Jeff and I went up the ridge to the left for one more little run.

Mt. Garfield
Steep clouoirs on Mt. Garfield.
Chair to Snow
Chair Peak, Mt. Roosevelt and Snow Lake.

Jeff and I skied a short run of fantastic north facing trees with some good little steep sections. The powder here was definitely bottomless and dry. Then it was a short skin back to the divide once again to meet Patti and Jack. The final descent to Source Lake was a little challenging, since the sun over the last two days had destroyed the south-facing snow, but still pretty fun. We got back to the parking lot a little after noon, ready to get some burritos on North Bend!

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