Amabalis Mountain

     This was my second time up Amabalis this season after missing it for about three years. Each time I had excellent conditions. The first time was bitterly cold with tons of fresh snow. Today there was a few inches of new snow down low and 6-8 inches on top. It was warm with temperatures in the low 30s. I arrived at 9:05 to find a dozen cars already in the lot at Cabin Creek. Surprisingly, none of them were heading up Amabalis. The road had been groomed a day or so earlier and an inch or two covered the groomed track. There were a couple of people on the Amabalis route yesterday. I had a pretty easy time with only a few inches of snow to cut trail through. On the earlier trip up Amabalis I did not take a camera and it was among the most scenic winter days I have seen. This time I took the camera and stopped frequently to take photos on the way up. I also took time to break off many limbs which jut out into the groomed track space. Now you can ski up the lower section without getting bashed by branches.

     I did have to stop to wax up my skis as the new snow and 32 degree temperature led to sticky snow on my ski bottoms. With my stops and the need to cut trail it still only took my a little over one hour to reach the intersection. I could still see down into the valley but very little could be seen above. I was nearly into the clouds. After a quick food and water break I turned left and continued up. There were less tracks going on and the snow began to deepen. Even so, it was still fairly easy to ski in the snow filled tracks from the day before. The trees were really heavily flocked higher up. With white snow, white clouds, and snow covered trees it was nearly all white. It was also very beautiful.

     About 200 vertical feet from the ridge top the previous skiers turned around. Now I had to make my own track. Even here it was not bad. I sank in about 6 inches but still kept up a good pace. On previous trips up complete calm turned into a stong wind at the ridge top. Today there was a lilttle breeze but it was not at all a problem.  From the ridge top the road continues along the crest. It gains steadily but is not at all steep. I continued along the crest. Where the road traverses to the right side of the ridge I stopped. It was not far from there to the real summit but the stronger wind with the southern exposure and no views at all left me with no ensuthiasm to go on to the top. It was slow coming down in the soft snow along the ridge top. Finally I spotted the first person since I turned onto the Amabalis Road near the start. Sarah had been following in my track and thanked me for setting it. In return she offered me an energy bar. I really did not feel like stopping for lunch so I thanked her and took it. It turned out that we live less than a mile apart only to meet on top of a snowy mountain. After leaving Sarah I quickly reached the point where the road begins to descnd from the ridge.

     Sarah had greatly improved my track down. It was still slow going but much better than it would have been without her. As usual I nearly fell half a dozen times but managed to stay on my feet. Half way down to the intersection I passed a group of three skiers coming up. They were the only people I saw until reaching the intersection. When I got there I saw that the groomer had been by. Now I had smooth sailing all the way down. I passed three more groups some going up and some down. I was quite surprised that so few people were on the route this day. I reached the ridge in exactly two hours. It took 35 minutes coming down. At the bottom I turned right and followed the groomed road to its end and back. That added a couple more miles to the trip. All totalled I skied 12 miles with 1800' gained.

Amabalis Road
Swamp Lake
Yakima Valley
Above Intersection
Into The Clouds
Lake Keechelus
Deeper Snow
Flocked Trees
Nearing The Ridge
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Photo Page 2