+10 10 votes

Skiing Silver Star Mountain

 

Words by Tom Janisch, Photos by Coron Polley


Silver Star Mountain, near Washington Pass west of Mazama Washington, harbors northeast-facing glaciers and snowfields offering fine skiing and snowshoeing. Justifiably, it's one of the more popular spring skiing areas in the North Cascades. And when Highway 20 is plowed to the gate at Silver Star Creek (usually some time in April), there is reasonable access.

On April 18, 2011 Coron Polley, Stewart Hoover, and I made a day trip from Wenatchee. We parked near the Silver Star gate in a well-plowed area at about 3,400 feet. Snow banks required mantle moves. We skinned along Silver Star Creek. At about 4,600 feet with the deep snowpack, we were able to simply ski above the creek. As we got higher, it was still winter conditions. There had been a lot of wind and, recently, new snow. We were leery of skiing the main lobe of the Silver Star Glacier, which had convex features that were surely wind loaded.  So we crested the ridge toward Varden Creek and skinned to just above 8,000 feet. This area is more gentle and was not wind affected. We were treated to excellent powder skiing for about 1,800 vertical feet toward the Varden Creek drainage. A loop back to the Silver Star drainage was made and good skiing was enjoyed all the way back to the car.

See a topo map for skiing Silver Star Mountain near Washington Pass.

 Photo: This was a birthday tour for Tom. He seems to be enjoying the party.

The Silver Star glaciers have a rich history among Pacific Northwestern ski mountaineers. For example here’s an entry from Lowell Skoog’s journal:

p. 67: 1979, April 14-15, Silver Star Mountain with Gary Brill, Gordy Skoog and Eric Lindahl. My first ski mountaineering trip. Used new Ramer bindings on hand-me-down K2 skis (from Gordy) with hand-me-down, strap-on skins (from Gary). Slept in homemade Gore-Tex "Incompotent." Scrambled to the summit; great skiing.

 

See large version of this picture.