Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rock Mountain

It had been cold and rainy in Seattle all week, so when El Jefe and I chatted at work on Friday afternoon we both agreed that it was high time to head for the mountains to slay some powder. We decided that Stevens Pass would be a good objective as I had read good things about Rock Mountain as an early season ski objective, so Saturday morning found us headed up and over Steven's Pass and then dropping down a bit to the parking just off highway 2 about 8.6 miles from the summit. By around 9:00am we were booted up and backtracking along the highway briefly before heading up the slopes on the north side of the highway.

The trail started on the summer trail, and with great snow coverage we didn't have to walk at all. It was a little tight through some of the switchbacks but as we continued to climb we eventually left the trail and made our own switchbacks. Here is Jefe making his way through the winter wonderland:

As we continued to climb the slope we eventually emerged onto a ridge with some nice views and some steep traversing:

After a short stop to eat some good we started moving out again, hoping to reach the summit of Rock Mountain though the visibility looked pretty bad up above us.

As we continued to climb we started to enter the fog around 6,200 feet, and by 6,400 feet we couldn't see anything. We were about 400 feet shy of the summit, but as daylight was a concern and skiing without being able to see isn't that fun in any case, we decided to pull the cord and break for lunch before heading down. Here is a shot of me and my mustache enjoying a sandwich:

We then pulled off the skins and started heading down, which was super fun once we dropped out of the mist as the snow was amazing. Here I am loving life on the way down:

After we had dropped about 500 feet we decided to pause for a bit, and while Jefe was feeling a bit worked on his first day out I decided to quickly blast back up a few hundred feet to harvest some more powder (the terrain here was quite low angle so we weren't worried about avalanches). Here I am setting off, it was nice to head up without a pack for a change!

After regrouping we then continued down, finding some more good sections when the trees thinned out before the coverage became thinner and we had to be worried about rocks. There was one short section of ascent that we managed through a mix of skins and side stepping, here I am demonstrating the latter technique:

We finally made it back down to the car just as it was getting dark, and headed back along Highway 2 with a stop for some well-deserved burgers and pints at a cowboy bar in Goldbar. Here is the top of our route, just over 4,500 feet of climbing including the bonus loop at the top:

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