| Mt. Yale Summit Ski (Upper Silver Creek Bowl)- Denny Creek TH
Date: Saturday, April 11, 2009
Group: Carl, Lance, Ben, and I
Route: West Slope standard ascent (~4mi.) and upper Silver Creek Cirque to West Slopes ski descent (~4.2mi.) from Denny Creek TH (Dav‘s Route)
Stats: 8.2 miles (with a "shortcut" on the descent); 4,300’ climbed; 4,100’ skied; ~10 hrs RT
Our ski route of the upper Silver Creek Bowl (photo taken during a hike of Mt. Columbia, March 2007):
Our routes on the standard west side of Mt. Yale (red=climb; blue=ski):
I can't say it's been a great winter for climbing or Fourteener skiing for me with only three peaks climbed and skied this year, thanks to lack of snow or pure laziness. It was time to get out for something bigger. Originally we had planned on Mt. Bross, but those plans shifted to interest in Yale due to the high winds forecasted. Still, 80% chance of 4-8 inches of snow didn't have my hopes up high, but we remained optimistic. Carl and I entertained the idea of leaving one car at the North Cottonwood Creek TH road closure to enable a full ski of the Silver Creek Bowl, but we weren't certain that would have worked out. So we settled on Davenport's ski route. Obviously we would assess conditions when we got up there.
We met Carl and benners (and the rest of the 14ers.com group) at the Denny Creek TH Saturday morning at 6:00am and started hiking up the packed-down trail a half hour later. The skis went on around 11,100ft.; we skinned up to 11,600ft. where we took skis off (the snow was too icy to skin) and hiked the remaining 400ft. to the southwest shoulder plateau.
Carl, myself, and comin2getcha climb through the forest:
Ascent route up to the large southwest shoulder from 11,300ft.:
Carl, comin2getcha, and benners skin up to the shoulder:
Me climbing before a low fog approaching the shoulder (photo taken from ~12,100ft.):
Taken from ~13,000ft., a look back at the route up to Yale's West Slope:
The boys skinning up towards the saddle:
Once on the West Slopes proper, we were able to put the skis back on near 13,100ft. and skinned up to 13,700ft. where, again, the snow was too slick to skin any farther. Skis back on our packs, benners and Carl alternated, setting the bootpack on the familiar west-facing varied snow conditions from hardpack to sugar snow up to the saddle. We climbed to about 13,950ft. to the summit ridge – climbers' right of the low-point of the saddle. bjohnson17 met up with our group here and would join us on the ridge scramble to the summit. Up to this point, we had a brief snow shower of little accumulation and pretty constant 10-15mph winds above treeline.
benners, myself, and comin2getcha follow Carl's bootpack up to the saddle:
The summit ridge from the 13,900ft. saddle:
comin2getcha and I working across the ridge crest:
A few ridge-scrambling pictures...
Carl heads up to 14,000ft.:
benners makes his way up:
comin2getcha working up the ridge:
I scramble just below the summit:
Higher up on the ridge Wesley gave us the good news that there was nice snow coverage in Silver Creek Bowl. We summited around 1:00pm (in 6hrs. 35min. including all breaks; temperature: 20deg.). Skins came off and beacons went on.
A few summit shots (unfortunately due to cloud cover, I couldn't get any nice summit scenics)...
Our ski group on Yale (left to right: comin2getcha, me, benners, and Carl):
comin2getcha, me, and Carl (top photo); benners and comin2getcha bottom photos:
It was time to ski. From the summit, we headed north about 50 feet to drop northeast into upper Silver Creek Bowl (that way we wouldn't have had quite as long of a traverse back to the saddle). We left the summit at 2:00pm. Carl made the first few turns to a safety zone below the ridge. I dropped in after making a few ski cuts.
Carl dropping into upper Silver Creek Bowl:
I dropped in next…
benners' fine entrance off the summit:
And comin2getcha off the summit:
In this upper bowl, we found a nice few inches of powder on top of a solid base – it made for the best skiing we had all day. We dropped a few hundred feet into the bowl before cutting hard skier's left (north) and traversing back around to the saddle. We had about a 30ft. side-step back up to the saddle. During the ascent, we kept talking about how nice it would be if it cleared up a little bit for the ski descent. Guess what? It did.
From the safety zone, we were able to see most of the traverse to the saddle (red=climb):
Traversing north to the saddle:
From the 13,900ft. saddle, Carl headed skiers' right (northwest) to keep the line continuous. This section required some billy-goating to get through the rocks. Back on the west side of the peak, ski conditions were typical wind slab with pockets of semi-sticky sugar to play in.
comin2getcha and benners work their way through the rocks (and benners gets some vertical, bottom photo):
Looking down the billy-goat section:
Carl gets some turns:
benners enjoying the wind slab:
comin2getcha getting his on the west side:
I get my turns:
We re-grouped at treeline and easily made our way down into the thicker forest. Here, we followed Wesley's "shortcut" which didn't quite turn out to be the case. We only had to take our skis off for 20 feet (photo below) until we met back up with the standard trail, where we made quick time skiing back to the trail register. Grateful for the cloud cover most of the day, we arrived back to the parking lot around 4:30pm. Great day guys – looking forward to many more!
Carl's shortcut through the forest led us to some tight trees and bare spots:
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):