Amabilis Mountain

Almost the end of March and my first cross country ski trip. I joined Gary, John, and Mark for a trip to Amabilis Mountain. The high temperature was supposed to be in the low 40s at the Cabin Creek trailhead. It was only 26 when we started at 9:10 am. Not much wind and with the steady climb we were warm enough. The track up to the junction was freshly groomed. Only a few tracks showing. We passed three other skiers before the junction. Gary skied up to the summit on the left road from the junction just a few weeks earlier. On that day the route was groomed all the way. I had never heard of grooming all the way to the summit. When we reached the junction the grooming ended. Most of the way up to there the snow was packed but not icy. In the open at and after the junction the previous day's sunshine had melted the snow and it froze overnight. The crust was very icy.

After a short break we headed up the right fork. The one avalanche slope was fine as little sun had yet been on it. At the "wind tunnel" spot we did have a cold breeze but not too bad. Soon the wind abated. We reached the next junction where an old logging spur turns off to the right at about 11:30 am. This is where Gary usually leaves the road for a cross county climb to the ridge top. At that spot the main road switches back to the left. Trees have been growing up on the slope we ascend. The way is getting a bit more difficult. After a short debate we chose to take the off road road instead of the road up to the ridge top. The logging spur part was fine. Off to the side here the trees have grown up so close together that one could not ski through them. We were sinking in boot deep along here in the fresh snow but made steady progress.

Gary chose a pretty good route off of the spur and up the slope. In open spots the crust was very hard. I had to slam my ski down to get it to edge into the slope. We just have light touring gear so we made a number of traverses around the trees and up the old clear cut. Our mostly sunny morning had turned to almost entirely cloudy. It was warm enough but not the mostly sunny day we expected. Once up to the ridge top we had views north and east to Kachess Ridge and up to Mt. Daniel and Hinman. Growing trees have made it a bit harder to see out but for the short term the views are still there. We found a spot out of the wind and sat down for lunch.

Soon we were back under way. This is the best part of the loop. We had untracked snow as we skied along an old road right on the crest of the ridge. The recent snow that had dropped 20 inches in the past week on the Cascade Crest left the trees thoroughly flocked in fresh snow. In addition there were long icicles hanging from the trees. A very beautiful sight. With a few ups and downs we continued. As the road began to descend we saw the first person since the lower junction. That is the main road we had left earlier. Instead of descending we left the road and skied on along the ridge crest. More untouched snow. We came out of the forest at a viewpoint. Keechelus Ridge in one direction. Peaks of the Cascade Crest including Daniel and Hinman too. The highpoint of Amabilis was close by. I had skied up it several times in the past. Now the bare summit I recalled is mostly forested. We saw several more skiers here.

We were now back on the road that is the left fork at the lower junction. It begins with some gentle downhill and a few steeper spots. We now had both a ski and snowshoe track. There was enough soft snow on the sides to allow me to check my speed by going out of the tracks. After the snow slog uphill we made much better time now. We went at our own speeds and came back together where the road drops off the ridge top. I went first for a change. I was afraid the clouds would keep the snow from softening but that was not the case. Conditions were slow enough for me to make it back to the junction without falling.  I did stop a few times. There were a couple big snow pinwheels to be photographed.

Back at the junction I waited a few minutes for the others. Now we had a groomed track for the rest of the descent.  I made it down the last 2.25 miles in 21 minutes. A whole lot faster than I could have snowshoed it. All the way down from the summit I only saw a couple of other people. No crowds on a very nice weather day. the clouds broke up and we had some sunshine for the lower descent. We made it back to the start at abut 3:15 pm.

This turned out to be a great day for my first ski trip of the year. Pretty good snow conditions and a serious lack of other people. I'm glad we left the road for the off trail climb to the ridge. It broke up the road sections nicely. This is a great ski tour. I had not done it since 2007. I hope it is not another 6 years until my next visit.

GPS Map Of Route

John, Gary, & Mark
Ascending Road
Catching Other Skiers
Arriving At Junction
Granite Mountain
Off Groomed Track
Lake Keechelus & Pks
Mark Skiing Road
Gary On Road
Leaving Road
Onto Spur Road
Near End Of Spur
Heading Up Slope
Near Ridge Top
Cascade Crest Peaks
Lake Kachess
Mts. Hinman & Daniel
Gary Breaks Trail
Ridge Top Skiing
John Is Following Me
Fresh Snow On Road
Untracked Snow
Mark At Viewpoint
Summit & Mt. Daniel
Kachess Ridge
Mark Zooms By
Descending Off Ridge
Back At Junction
Yakima Valley View
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2013