The Chikamin High Route and Lemah 1

Just north of Snoqualmie pass lies an area of wild, rugged peaks. You can see them from the top of Denny mountain, and from many of the day tours around the pass. After weeks of storm skiing in the old-growth, a good high pressure offered the opportunity to go explore.

My fiancee Erin and I skinned up Commonwealth on Wednesday, hoping that the forecast would pan out and bring a sunny afternoon. Instead we found wind slabs in the trees, and dwindling prospects. As we climbed toward the Kendall Catwalk, we took a lot of time evaluating stability.

We found a safe way up to the col and threw on crampons. The ridge beyond forces you to one side and then the other, and with the driving snow it offered some real climbing excitement. Beyond we skinned on through a cloud, still vigilant of windslab. A good powder run saw us down to Alaska lake and our spacious accommodation.

Up and over Alaska Mountain in the morning, we had to move fast to keep up with our time plan. Dropping over into the headwaters of the Middle Fork brought a new wave of solitude, and Chair peak began to seem quite distant. The Lemahs watched over as we climbed back toward the sun and the col above Chikamin Lake. We ditched overnight gear and sprinted up the mellow southwest face of Lemah 1, and hastened to ski down while the snow was perfect. It's hard to say, but we think it may have been the first ski descent of this peak.

A mile-long glide brought us to camp at Glacier Lake, where the moon rose above Mt. Stuart to the east. In the shadow of the Four Brothers and the Three Queens, we made dinner and cherished the silence.

The morning brought increasingly grand views of the Lemahs back to the north, and dozens of intriguing projects for the future. Wild plumes of snow peeled off the summits and through the cols, and we skied one last good powder run into Gold Creek. The Chikamin high route has it all: solitude, solace, challenge, and great skiing.