This year on America’s birthday, Keith, Lucas, Jon and I got several helpings of corn courtesy of Naches Peak near Chinook Pass. The weather looked promising, and we hatched a plan to assault the nearly 6400′ mountain during the morning of July 4th. We departed Seattle shortly after 6, and were parked and skinning up by 9 AM. We approached from the west and made our way up the ridge. The early morning surface conditions were icy, but not so much so that crampons were required. After several hundred feet, snow coverage became a little patchy. We blistered through the final push to the summit along the edge of the ridge with skis on our backs.
The tour offered excellent views of Mount Adams and Mount Rainier. Once on the skiers summit of Naches, we could even spot Mount Hood off in the distance.
Upon reaching the skiers summit, we transitioned and grabbed some food. With warm temperatures and sunny skies, the crew was not in much of a hurry to ski down. Much to the delight of the camprobbers, Jon was not stingy with his snacks.
We opted to drop into the North Bowl of Naches. Directly beyond the skiers summit was a massive cornice that gave way to a sheer rock face. Not exactly skiable. We clicked in for the descent and carefully made our way down a narrow band of snow that fell along the east ridge.
With no major cornices and plenty of smooth, white snow ahead of us, we dropped in. The mid morning sun had ever so slightly softened up the north facing bowl, which made for buttery, fast corn. After several sweet July turns, we put on the brakes, busted out the skins and went back for a second helping.
Once back on the skiers summit, we became festive and celebrated this great nation with a PBR. I hardly think the color scheme of Pabst and our nations flag is a coincidence. With a view of America’s largest firework waiting to happen, Mount Rainier, it was truly a patriotic moment.
We began descent #2 on the south face of the mountain. Unlike the North Bowl, the southern flank of Naches features more trees. The consistent slope angle allowed for a nice long run, which let us traverse enough west that we never had to take our skis off to get back to the car.
Turns for July 2012: in the bag. 22 months and counting…
More photos on Flickr.