Forum Index > Trip Reports > Silver Star Mountain, Feb 14, 2021
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
Eric Gilbertson
Member
Member


Joined: 04 Jul 2018
Posts: 68 | TRs
Location: Seattle
Eric Gilbertson
  Top

Member
PostTue Feb 16, 2021 8:03 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Silver Star Mountain (8,876ft)

Feb 14, 2021

10 miles skiing, 14 miles snowmobiling

Eric and Johnny

I found myself in the Mazama area for the long weekend avoiding the heavy snows down south to find drier conditions and more stable snow for mountaineering. Saturday I had snowmobiled up to Washington Pass to ski the Birthday Tour and on the way up had noticed a snowmobile parked at the Silver Star pullout. Skin tracks went up into the woods and I suspected they were skiing Silver Star Mountain.

Looking up at the summit from the edge of treeline
Looking up at the summit from the edge of treeline
The route
The route
Starting at Early Winters Campground
Starting at Early Winters Campground

Silver Star was on my list of Bulgers to climb in the winter. Back in 2017 Katie and I had planned to snowshoe up Silver Star but hadnít realized the road closure was down at Early Winters campground 7 miles down the road from the start of the route. That was a bit too much to add 14 miles round trip on snowshoes, so we had to change objectives and climb a different peak closer by instead. I later skied Silver Star that April from Silver Star creek, and then climbed it again in September 2018 from Burgundy Col. But I still wanted to come back and get it in winter.

Snow conditions were stable on north faces in the area and with a skin track already laid for us and decent weather forecast it was an easy call to go for Silver Star on Sunday. We got a very casual start, leaving the Early Winters staging area at 8am. I was on one snowmobile, Johnny on another, and Damon and Matt doubled Canadian style on a third one.

Highway 20 was in excellent shape and we made it the seven miles to Silver Star creek in about 15 minutes. We parked the sleds and soon started skinning up into the woods. A few inches of snow had fallen overnight but the old skin track was easy to follow. (Thanks to the skiers who set it!)

Looking up from the 5,000ft basin
Looking up from the 5,000ft basin
Passing by larches at 6,400ft
Passing by larches at 6,400ft
Looking back down the valley
Looking back down the valley

After a few hours we reached a flat area 4,800ft and Damon and Matt needed to turn around. They had a flight to catch out of Seattle that night and it was a long drive back. Johnny and I continued, and soon heard a helicopter overhead. Iíd remembered seeing flags at the col near the summit back in April and suspected the heli skiers skied the north face route. It was actually good news that they were skiing it today, since they would be thoroughly testing the snow stability before we got there.

We soon reached a clearing at 5,000ft and saw fresh ski tracks and flagging for a heli pickup zone. At the clearing we headed up to the right through the trees, zig zagging higher until we leveled out around 5,800ft in sparse larch trees. The skies started clearing and we had views of the impressive wine spires above us, with the more rounded Silver Star looming in the distance.

We followed skin tracks to the edge of treeline and noticed they ended at a bench at 6,600ft. I remembered my route from April and went up and skiers left of a big nunatuk-like outcropping. We followed low-angle terrain up left and then met up with some heli-skier tracks. The tracks compacted the snow and it made things a little bit easier to follow those up through the gully.

Our route up and left of this rock outcrop
Our route up and left of this rock outcrop
Lots of heli skier tracks above us
Lots of heli skier tracks above us
Looking down the north face
Looking down the north face

As I rounded the top I saw a helicopter had just dropped off a group of nine (!) skiers just below the col, and they were skiing down towards us. Luckily they diverted away to a different run and never got too close. I suspect they saw us from the helicopter and were being careful to avoid skiing into us. They must have been doing many runs, since their tracks spanned the full width of the north face.

We ascended up to a bench below the col as the helicopter dropped them off again a bit below and northwest of us. As we skinned higher the snow got a bit firmer and we eventually decided to just boot the last bit instead of putting on ski crampons. We took turns wallowing through waist-deep snow but eventually carved out a path up to the col by 3:45pm.

Skiining up to the col
Skiining up to the col
Booting to the col
Booting to the col
Ditching the skis, looking up at the summit
Ditching the skis, looking up at the summit

Unfortunately by then the clearing skies had gone and were replaced with thick clouds. It was surprisingly warm, though. On Saturday it had been hovering around 0F above treeline, but now my thermometer read 25F. It must have been an inversion.

At the col we ditched skis and switched to crampons. Johnny peeked over a south gully that looked scoured down to rocks. I led the way up from the col, kicking steps in shallow snow at times, then scrambling on rocks higher up.

Starting the scramble
Starting the scramble
The offwidth/chimney scramble
The offwidth/chimney scramble
Johnny on the summit
Johnny on the summit

About 20ft below the summit I ditched my ice axe and wriggled up the final chimney. My crampons were just long enough to get a delicate foot jam in sideways, then I mantled up to the top of the chimney. I then scrambled over and could just barely reach up to tap the highpoint after clearing the rime ice from it.

We took turns snapping pictures on the top. Unfortunately visibility was pretty low, but we got fleeting glimpses over to the wine spires and the col to the west. We soon downclimbed back to the skis and started our amazing descent. Johnny led the way as we carved turns down steeply from the col then more gradually below. The heli skiers tracks had hardened and made things a bit more difficult, but we were still able to find some powder to ski.

Skiing down
Skiing down
Skiing down
Skiing down
Dropping down below treeline
Dropping down below treeline

We skied down around the nunatuk and then cut right at the trees and skied a fun line skiers right to the pickup zone at 5,000ft. From there the terrain leveled out and we switched to climb mode to scoot back out our tracks. Back at 4,800ft it got steep enough to ski again, and we had a fun descent back to the sleds by dark.

Both snowmobiles started no problem, and we quickly rode back to the staging area by 6:15pm. Amazingly it had taken just two hours to get from the summit back to the cars, and only around 10 hours round trip for the day.

Snow started again that evening and I spent another night camped out at the staging area.

Link to more pictures
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 6816 | TRs
Location: Stuck in the middle
puzzlr
  Top

Mid Fork Rocks
PostWed Feb 17, 2021 2:23 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Wow! Nothing more to add  up.gif

--------------
Mid Fork Rocks ē flickr
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Fletcher
Member
Member


Joined: 29 Jul 2009
Posts: 1660 | TRs
Location: kirkland
Fletcher
  Top

Member
PostWed Feb 17, 2021 4:25 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Awesome Eric! Whenís Bonanza?
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Eric Gilbertson
Member
Member


Joined: 04 Jul 2018
Posts: 68 | TRs
Location: Seattle
Eric Gilbertson
  Top

Member
PostThu Feb 18, 2021 8:08 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Quote:
Awesome Eric! Whenís Bonanza?

Thanks! No plans yet but Bonanza would be a fun one to ski.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
forest gnome
Forest nut...



Joined: 24 Apr 2003
Posts: 3357 | TRs
Location: north cascades!!
forest gnome
  Top

Forest nut...
PostThu Feb 18, 2021 9:07 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
What did u fin In the pits you dug out ?
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Eric Gilbertson
Member
Member


Joined: 04 Jul 2018
Posts: 68 | TRs
Location: Seattle
Eric Gilbertson
  Top

Member
PostThu Feb 18, 2021 9:05 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Quote:
What did u fin In the pits you dug out ?

On north and northeast aspects above 8,000ft we found a thin firm windslab layer about 4" below the surface. Steep northwest aspects had released small loose dry slides naturally.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
timberghost
Member
Member


Joined: 06 Dec 2011
Posts: 716 | TRs

timberghost
  Top

Member
PostMon Feb 22, 2021 5:36 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Rightly named peak
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
   All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trip Reports > Silver Star Mountain, Feb 14, 2021
  Happy Birthday GrizzDaddy, grasshopper, Gamuru, forestGeek, Noheaperture, dave shorett!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy