Silver Star Mountain-Silver Star Glacier Route

I arrived at Sergio's a couple minutes before 5:00am. After tossing my gear into his car, we headed to Starbucks where we met Andy Ball, Jerry Sanchez and Sophie, Andy's dog. With most of the pre-trip complications now out of the way, we headed for the Washington Pass area. More precisely, we were heading for a small parking area just past the bridge over Silver Star Creek on Highway 20 where the route would begin (c.3500').

It was after 9:00 by the time we left the parking lot. The Burgdorfer guide book shows the route on the west side of the creek but the Beckey guide shows it staying on the east side (the route is yet another Beckey first ascent). We stayed on the east side. Hoping to ski the entire route we were quickly disappointed by bare ground. With skis (or boards) on our packs we stomped up the first 1000 feet to an open area.

Now back on skis, we crossed the open slope then battled our way through trees to another open slope (make a rising traverse up the east side of the drainage). Things got better when we reached here. The snow was soft and skinning up was easy. Eventually, the open slope ended and we were once again in the trees. The terrain in the valley was now flat and eventually became swampy before opening up for good in the large flat basin below Silver Star (c.5000').

Silver Star Mountain and the Wine Spires

We headed for an obvious broad gully NNW of Silver Star and started up. After about 1000 feet we exited to the left and began a long rising traverse across a large bench to the Silver Star Glacier. There are two obvious broad gullies that one can take to gain the glacier. Jerry and I took the second one while Andy, Sergio and Sophie took the first one. The one that Jerry and I took was littered with avy debris buried in powder but was quite icy in places. It seems to have been faster, or at least the conditions allowed a more rapid ascent. Once at the top we continued up the final 1200 feet to the col west of the summit and wondered where Sergio, Andy and Sophie were.

I wanted to try to reach the summit but Jerry wanted to ski. Perhaps I should have gone with Jerry but went for the summit anyhow. The final 15 feet to the summit was more difficult than I had anticipated. I would call it class 4 but I was in telemark boots and crampons and the summit had some snow and ice to further complicate matters. After spending a good 15 minutes trying to find a reasonable way up the last bit of rock I finally gave up. Here are a few photos from my high point.

Early Winter Spires and Kangaroo Ridge

Goode, Buckner, Black and Logan

The Silver Star Creek Drainage

The View to the South

I descended to the col to see Sophie looking over the final roll, then looking back to see where Andy was. She disappeared then reappeared with Andy. We spent too much time at the col and the east facing slopes quickly became shaded and much for corn skiing. The comedy was just beginning.

Andy and Sophie

I was sitting on my pack making final preparations for the descent when I heard Jerry yell something. I looked up in time to see Jerry chasing after Andy's snowboard as it slowly headed down the Silver Star Glacier. As fast as Jerry is, he wasn't able to get to it in time. We stared at each other blankly as Jerry watched the unmanned snowboard descending. He said he saw it go over a roll above the only crevasse we had seen but didn't see it come out below... Well, it was either in the crevasse or it had miraculously stopped. I would have thought we would have found it stuck in the side of Sergio's car.

We started down. I fell a lot. I just can't seem to do the transition from ascending to descending on these backcountry ski trips. I felt better when I saw Sergio fall. This was only the second time I had seen him fall and I was lucky enough to catch it with my camera. It was a spectacular crash!

Sergio doing Cart-Wheels in Late April Power

In the area of the crevasse we located and recovered Andy's snowboard. Wow! We descended the gully that Sergio and Andy has ascended. Nice! Yeah I crashed some more but it was in powder. The remaining trip was relatively uneventful featuring a combination of frozen corn and beautiful sun melted corn. We reached the cars sometime around 7:00pm.

On the drive home we stopped to give a ride to Phil Fortier and Dave Burdick. They had been skiing on Mount Hardy. For some reason I wasn't surprised.

Sergio on the Silver Star Glacier

Map Courtesy of Topo!

100 Classic Ski and Snowboard Routes in Washington; Rainer Burgdorfer; Pages 53-55
Cascade Alpine Guide, Volume3, 2nd Edition; Fred Beckey; Pages 289, 290, 292