January 16, 2021
Some of the evidence of rain and avalanches that occurred throughout the week.
Okay picture this...
It's Friday evening and you're trying to decide what to ski tomorrow. The past week, it RAINED 7 inches up to 9,000ft, froze over (meaning the skiing itself will be terrible), and then got around 4 inches of snow, which likely either got blown off or melted, and Saturday is supposed to be mostly sunny. You want to ski Snoqualmie pass so that you can meet up with your friends who live in Leavenworth. What do you do? Well with this whole dilemma, we decided we wanted to make an exploratory day out of it, and ski a place we hadn't before. We wanted to scout some things, stay on relatively open slopes as much above treeline as possible. And for this tour we picked... Rampart Ridge!
The parking for Rampart is just at the end of the road for NF 4382 (aka, the Gold Creek road). You get to pass all of the hectic clump of snowshoers and avalanche courses that are heading down towards Gold Creek, and enjoy the mostly empty end of the road (Sno-Park permit required). Now, the one awesome thing about this tour is that it is largely void of people. Meaning actually we didn't see anyone else out on the ridge all day, and it was a sunny Saturday. BUT this solitude does come at a price, and that price is a long road skin up to the hairpin at 3,800ft. It is around 5 miles and 1,400ft to get to that point and it took us about 2 hours, as we were casually skinning and chatting with Andi and Eric. From there, the skin up to Lake Lillian was... awkward to say the least. The snow that was on the trees, had melted and turned to ice below, so the skinning was a little precarious. Nonetheless, we navigated up a couple bench systems, made it to the lake, and started heading up towards Rampart Ridge via a slope that went to a col just west of the summer trail. At the col, Andi and Eric decided they needed to get back home, and Dan and I continued forward.
Awkward tree skinning and creek crossings was the name of the game getting up to Lake Lillian.
Eric looking small in the trees as he pops out onto Lake Lillian.
Dan skinning along towards Rampart Ridge, with Stuart in the background.
Dan looking towards the ridge summit. In the middle of the pic are the cliffs that thwarted us!
We bumped down to get up to the ridge, looked at our map, and decided to ascend up the east side and traverse over to the summit on the west side just so that we could explore a bit more. That, however, was our key mistake in getting to the summit, as once we got up to the east ridge, we encountered a series of cliff bands that weren't passable. Well, maybe there was a section that we could ski, but the slope went under cornices, and we weren't quite psyched on it. We ended up turning around 200 feet from the summit, and started making our way back down to the car. The summit would have been easily accessible if we hadn't gone east, and just went up the west summit from the gully we transitioned in. Next time. We skied down the slope that, an hour before, Andi and Eric had skied corn on, but since the clouds had rolled in for us, it was kinda icy and chunky. Oh well. Past the lake, we had loud, chattery tree skiing that was pretty easy to navigate, and then we found ourselves on the trail again. We had to put skins on only once on the descent, just to get back to the groomed road at the hairpin where we turned off. Once we got to the road, it was nice groomed skiing, and a bit of skating, but quicker than we had thought it was going to be. It's always nice to over estimate something and find it easier! All in all, a great day of exploring and scouting with friends.
Total mileage of the day - 14.42 miles (Dan and I got different GPS measurements... We're going with what our GPS superimposed on caltopo says...)
Total elevation gain - 4,300ft
Total time - 7:41
Max slope angle of the day - Likely around 35-40 degrees. This was the slope coming down to Lake Lillian on the way back.
GPS via Strava - https://www.strava.com/activities/4632649750
Song that was stuck in my head all day - "Money" by Leikeli47. This song is CATCHY and dang once it's in your head, it's stuck there.