Article by Donni Reddington-Vognild
Our adventure up Big Jim Mountain started out with a bang by getting stuck in the snow. I was eager to test the 4x4 on the old cruiser & bombed through a section of snow just as Adam was telling me it was a bad idea. Digging out delayed us about 30 minutes -- which meant 30 minutes less of freezing in the evening at our snow camp.
The skin up was interesting. Because we couldn't drive even a quarter of a mile up the road, we had an additional 2 miles of road to cover on foot -- that translated into skis on, skis off, skis on, skis off...
After hitting the Hatchery Creek Trailhead there was only another 5 to 6 miles of skinning through frozen forest, then mud, then slush with plenty of veggie belays. Higher up on the sun exposed slope, the snow decided to stick to our skins which felt like I had 30-pound sandbags duct-taped to each foot.
Photo: Donni in a frozen-bottom lounger
It felt like we were getting nowhere and I was ready to set up camp. But we slogged on and on, and finally set up camp at about 6,100'. Then we stood and stared at the stove boiling water,.... the views,... & each other..... until I couldn't stand around freezing any longer and I crawled into the tent at 7 p.m. to warm up and prepare for bed.
Luckily my bladder held through the night. Adam, on the other hand, had to get up at some time in the night to empty his. He came back in, raving about the city lights of Wenatchee & how beautiful it was. I thought a second about looking, but knowing the effort it would take, I ducked down deeper in my bag and went back to sleep.
The next morning, we drank some warm fluids and prepared for the long traverse to Big Jim. Every time I looked at it, it seemed to move farther away. Eventually we were off, and eventually (squared) we made it to the top. The views were probably worth the long & grueling approach. I shouldn't admit it (Adam will definitely use this against me) but the summit was a confirmation that we are surrounded by some of the most beautiful peaks in the world.
Totally awesome trip!
Skiing Big Jim Mountain: Details, Details
Access. Drive Highway 2 to milepost 90.5 and turn south onto the Hatchery Creek Road. Note: When heading west, the road is immediately after the steel bridge crossing the Wenatchee River and just before the Tumwater Campground. Drive as far as snow allows and park (the dirt road to the trailhead is 2.5 miles long).
- From the Hatchery Creek Trailhead follow the trail up to 5,360' where you reach a knob where Big Jim comes into view.
- Either head in a more westerly direction towards Big Jim Mountain Lakes at the base of the mountain (2.8 miles) or contour left up the connecting ridges that lead to the southerm ramp of Big Jim(4.5 miles). We headed up the connecting ramps and camped at 6,100-foot level.
- On the actual summit push we did drop down to Lake Augusta and then booted up to the SW shoulder of Big Jim. This helped us avoid a gnarly scramble on loose rock on the last ridge before you reach Big Jim.
- From the summit we skied down the south east facing slope to the valley below then contoured back around to the south until we reached the base of the ridge where our camp was located. From here, we headed in a south easterly direction until we could gain the ridge on our right. Then we packed up camp and headed out.
Karma? On the way out, I realized I didn't have any beer waiting for us when we returned to our rig. Bummer, I was very disappointed but, lo and behold, right as we reached our rig, I nearly stepped on an unopened Coors Silver Bullet! Thanks to whoever left it behind, it was the best Coors I'd ever had!
Best Times. I would recommend doing this route either during full on winter (when avalanche conditions are low) or when you can first drive to the trailhead. That would be all about timing. There's still so much snow up there this year (spring of 2011) -- I think it should be good skiing through May.
Fitness: 3 (a solid day’s effort or an overnight trip). Skill Level: 2+ to 3. Advanced Intermediate skills.
Map. See a topo map of the area. (8.5" x 14" landscape).
Fees/Permits. None needed in winter. In summer, Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead.
Other trips. For other regional ski tours, see the WenatcheeOutdoors Backcountry Guidebook.
Click here to view more photos of the trip.
Leave It Better than You Found It. This should be every user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over unwanted spur trails, etc.
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers--they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.