Keechelus Ridge

As the year came to an end I squeezed in one more first time trip. Somehow I had never managed to ski or snowshoe this route. Bob, Kolleen, Suzanne, and Kelly came along. It was 21 degrees when we met at the Price Creek Westbound sno-park. It was blue sky all the way to near Snoqualmie Pass then low clouds to the east. I hoped we would be able to get above the clouds. There is a road route all the way to the summit towers. We had seen trip reports from during the week so we knew there were also some shorter off road tracks. Once we were moving we warmed up nicely.

Snowmobiles use these roads extensively so we had hard packed snow to start. Flat soon turned to uphill. We had crossed over Price Creek so we were free to head off road at any time. Bob and Kolleen spotted a snowshoe track and we all stopped to put on our snowshoes. A lone skier caught up with us. It turned out to be Gabriel Deal though I did not find out until the next day. We plowed through the fresh snow and soon emerged.... back on the road. And there was Gabriel. Our route was shorter but no faster.

We headed up the road and soon turned off on another steeper track. The trees were all heavily flocked making for beautiful scenery. We had some much steeper sections as we plodded along. Eventually we came back out on the road.... and there was Gabriel again. What were the odds of that? Now another pair of snowshoers caught up and sped past. We mostly followed road from there with a few off road sections.

I was most pleased when we broke through the clouds and into bright sunshine. Mt. Rainier was now visible to the southwest. About 400' below the summit we stopped for food and water. The wind was still very light. In the sun it was very comfortable. We ran into the road once again and now followed it the rest of the way up. We were fortunate in that we were passed by only a handful of snowmobiles on the way up. All were courteous and slowed down while passing.

The summit tower did not come into view until we were fairly close. The views from the top were excellent. Mt. Margaret was just across from us. The Cascade Crest peaks were cloaked in white. To the west we could see Bandera and Granite Mountain as well as McClellan Butte. Of course, Mt. Stuart was visible. With our detours and stops plus many photos, it took us 2:50 to climb less than four miles.

The trees near the top were plastered with rime ice and shone a blinding white. Soon we were joined by a larger group on snowmobiles. After taking lots of photos we headed down. The trip down could have been an easy road walk. What fun would that have been? We followed our own route for a ways then the consensus was to follow a lone snowshoe track straight down. It alternated steep and gentle old road sections. Bob and I were a bit heavier than the others and we sank in a lot. We both periodically sank in one leg, lost our balance, and took a tumble. Great fun.

Our route settled down into a steep walled creek bed. It crossed over once then again. The second one was a little tense as we could hear the water running under the snow. I would not have enjoyed slogging up this steep route in the soft snow. After what seemed like a long time but wasn't we popped back out on the road. From there it was an easy walk on down. As usual we met a number of folks who left too late to possibly reach the summit before dark.

The only problem with the descent was going back into the clouds. I hated to see the sun go away. Our time down was just over 1:30, about half of the time we took heading up. Although this is a popular snowmobile route we really did not see that many. Getting sun and clear views from the top was a very nice. After not going there for the last twenty or so winters I'm sure I will be back regularly. Good conditions, good friends, and nice views made for a very enjoyable day in the mountains.

On The Road
Still Only Boots
Come On!
Group Shot
Off Road
Blue Sky!
Flocked Trees
Sun & Trees
Bob & Kelly
Mt. Rainier
Level Road
Above Clouds
Bright White
Suzanne & Clover
Mt. Rainier Again
Dogs Ahead
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Photo Page 2

Trips - 2006