LARCH LAKE SKI TRAVERSE by Lance Young
Hi Don & Chris
Here is the final route for the ski mountaineering loop I did. This route could be one of the all time classic day loops on the west coast! Four high mountain routes the terrain and (route finding) geography/topography are quite reasonable to find and follow. The scenery is out of this world especially on top of the peak above Larch Lake looking south. The Glacier Creek valley is almost 3,000' below you with numerous jagged peaks, hanging glaciers, cliff walls, and impossibly steep ice faces above; real jaw dropping scenery. Then the ski run from the summit leaves you breathless, starting with a exciting summit shoot from just below the absolute summit (if you choose to do it) which shortly widens out to an unfettered bowl of wide open powder fields. The decent is 2,000' verticle and almost two miles long.
The skiing in general on this route is exceptional. The decent off of Mc Cue at the beginning is a good warm up early in the day, and then the descent from the summit above Larch is all time Classic. It starts in a rock lined summit shoot for about a dozen turns, then opens into a wide open basin gently mellowing out in slope to rolling downhill grades with sub-alpine tree clusters of mostly larch. If the summit shoot is too difficult you can go a little ways further down the ridge to the south to drop straight into the bowl. The slope here is nothing that any strong backcountry skier could not handle, (nothing steeper than 30 to 35 degrees).
This is a long beautiful run out the Larch Lake trail route to Chiwaukum Lake. There is one low altitude cliff band just above Larch Lake that should be skirted to the right, then follow the right side of the creek out. I started my climb back up Mc Cue Ridge at the head of Chiwaukum Lake were there was a clear glade that I could switchback straight up to the ridge. This summated on the ridge just above Lake Donald (beyond High Point), then just follow the ridge back to Wild Bill Hill. The whole route is about 4,000' vertical and ten miles. It shouldn't be done though unless the snow conditions look stable and skiing is good, but if they are what a remarkable trip.
Attached is a high resolution JPG of the route with way points marked. We sure had a great time this week and I enjoyed the opportunity to get away and ski some of the new in area trails with you personally. Powder Puff is a great stash of sun protected show and mellow telemark terrain. Thanks for the wonderful time and see you again soon.
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