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If you have summited Silver in the winter, did you stay on ridge thru steep trees, or go around to the right side?
Stayed on ridge up thru steep trees
42%
 42%  [ 3 ]
Around on the right side
57%
 57%  [ 4 ]
Total Votes : 7

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Pribbs
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PostFri Mar 13, 2020 10:10 am 
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I have been up Silver twice from the PCT and once last spring from the logging roads/meadows up the north basin and ridge, but never from the Annette Lake Trail (winter route).

There was a road closed sign blocking the dirt road to the Annette Lake TH, but we went around it. You do need high clearance and ideally AWD/4WD to reach the trailhead due to the snow on the road. We set off at 7:50 making quick work of the trail portion. You do need microspikes once you reach the first powerline crossing because the trail is compact icy snow from there on. After about 2 1/3 miles in a bit over an hour, we reached the top of the switchbacks and went a slight bit further until the trail actually leveled off at 3200 feet, and here we put on our snowshoes and headed up through the steep but peaceful forest. At about 3600 feet we reached a small open area where we encountered footprints from the previous day. We followed the tracks up back into the woods, where the slope got really, really steep. At around 4300 feet things leveled off a bit as we entered the start of the old glacial basin.


We went up to the top of an obvious saddle ahead and came to a well-groomed large XC ski road and followed that briefly to a bend at it's high point at the base of the larger part of the big basin at 4600 feet.


We headed up the middle of the snowfield until around 4900 feet at the base of a much steeper section to get up to a saddle between the ridge and the bump known as Silver Lining. Here you want to get out ice axes to ascend this, as the slope was steeper and more icy/crusty. Above this steep section the summit rose ahead.


At around 5100 feet we found an easy way up onto the ridge. The ridge was pretty fun and not too challenging. There we a couple steps to go over and some things to skirt around. Just stay away from cornices.


Once we reached a small bump on the ridge, the flat part of the ridge was about to end and give way to very steep snow with really brushy frozen snowy trees, and cliffs not far to the left. According to GPS tracks I had downloaded on Gaia, some tracks did appear to stay high on the ridge and go through the trees. But the frozen snowy trees looked nasty, and the there were some steep snow steps that looked sorta technical.


I know the boot path drops off here to the right side to wrap around the back side to go up a talus field, which is what other GPS tracks showed, as well. So we opted to trade our snowshoes for crampons and drop off the ridge to the right. We crossed some pretty steep and very firm and icy snow; crampons were certainly required here. Our ice ax spikes were only able to penetrate the top fresh inch or two of snow before hitting a compact icy snow underneath, so there were times where we had to face in and side-step while slamming our picks into the slope.


We finally reached a section that got steeper and even icier with some exposed talus in places, including in our run-out if we were to fall. If snow scrambling had a class system like rock, this would be pushing class 4 stuff. If the snow was not as icy, there would be no issue. But due to the treacherous snow conditions and satisfied with what we already did (especially me being to the top 3 times before), we opted to not go any further across this slope and bail and retreat back to the ridge to take break and enjoy the views. Picture below shows where we turned back. You can see the rocks in the run out. The photo doesn't do justice to the steepness.


The views from the ridge are pretty splendid, featuring the Snoqualmie Pass area, Kaleetan and Chair, Thomson, and Stuart.


We kept our crampons on until the bottom of that steep part of the basin snowfield and then we were actually able to get back down to the trail without snowshoes.


Got back to the trailhead around 3:15pm. 7.5 miles, 3800 feet of gain, 7.5 hours
http://www.movescount.com/moves/move330405517

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Schroder
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PostFri Mar 13, 2020 10:56 am 
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I've been up Silver many times in the winter and always just followed the trail to within about a half mile of Annette Lake and then gained the ridge to the top. I've never gone into that basin.
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Pribbs
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PostFri Mar 13, 2020 11:13 am 
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Schroder wrote:
I've been up Silver many times in the winter and always just followed the trail to within about a half mile of Annette Lake and then gained the ridge to the top. I've never gone into that basin.

Seems like that route up the giant open slope above the lake would have higher avy risk. Even on a low-risk day like yesterday, that whole slope was pretty crusty/icy and would've been crampons all the way up. Almost all tracks I found used the ridge approach, which was super fun and scenic.

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Schroder
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PostFri Mar 13, 2020 11:23 am 
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You go up before you get to the large open slope and just hit the top corner of it
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puzzlr
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PostFri Mar 13, 2020 5:03 pm 
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Pribbs wrote:

That is quite a super-zoom on your camera. Cool view of the Granite Mountain lookout. And the cornice is  eek.gif

When I climbed Silver in winter I left the trail somewhere between where you did and where Schroder does. We also did not go into the basin.

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revolutionaryboredom
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PostFri Mar 20, 2020 12:37 pm 
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> There was a road closed sign blocking the dirt road to the Annette Lake TH, but we went around it.

Don't you think you maybe shouldn't have?
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Jeff
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PostFri Mar 20, 2020 1:29 pm 
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Why did you choose to take the ridge? I've done enough winter ridges to know that weaving around cornices, drifts, and frozen snow really slows things down. The large open slope straight up from the lake is a nice direct route. Even the scariest looking slopes can still be safe in certain conditions.
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Penquin
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PostWed Mar 25, 2020 11:39 am 
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I've done Silver many times in the winter and found, given the right conditions, the safest route is to leave the trail before the first avalanche shoot and ascend on a direct SW heading to a point directly below the summit.  The avalanching I've worried about (I've turned back at least once from this) has been from the unstable snow in the trees.  The cornice forms on the other side of the ridge so I've been less concerned about it coming from there.  Below are routes showing both the summer (in green) and winter approaches along with one for Abel,Tinkham and Silver.

Silver Peak GPS Track
Silver Peak GPS Track

This is another winter route though conditions need to be very stable to do it.  Dropping down into Annette Lake this way is an awesome glassade.

Silver Peak GPS Track B
Silver Peak GPS Track B
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