Our touring group got up to Chinook Pass around 9 am. We scrapped our original plan to try and attack the Sheep Lake Couloir due to very minimal coverage on southern facing slopes (not sure why we thought that might work). We had no idea how you would even begin the approach from Chinook Pass let alone even if we could expect snow after what would have likely been 1,000+ feet of hiking dirt and rocks.
We instead decided to lap the northern facing slopes off Naches Peak. Starting out from the parking lot at 9:30 am we toured in light base layers. Lots of sun screen was a must… and I did not abide by that must. I’m paying for it tonight. The snow starts right at the parking lots and no hiking was required. The snow right from the get go was surprisingly soft with a very thin, weak crust layer about 6″ below.
When we got to the base of Naches it was clear Friday was a lonely day, based on the few tracks we saw. Today, Saturday, was the opposite. We saw about 50+ different people out touring near Naches Peak. Northern aspects were great for making turns in soft, light snow… something we’ve known little of this season.
Skin tracks were heavily traveled. As the day went on snow began to melt and freeze in the skin tracks making them slick. There were a lot of blowouts on the skin trail, damn splitboarders. Side hilling became challenging as the day went on and setting a solid edge was key.
Coverage all around is low, but we had next to no base damage on our gear, even after 5 laps with filled with airs and power turns. Throughout the day clouds kept trying to hold, but the sun would burn it off before visibility could become a problem.
On the drive home we encountered some rain shortly after passing Crystal Mountain Resort.