Forum Index > Trip Reports > Middle and North Chiwaukum, 04/03/2021
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Alden Ryno
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Joined: 04 Jun 2019
Posts: 105 | TRs
Location: Richland, WA
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PostMon Apr 05, 2021 8:35 am 
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Middle Chiwaukum Summit Ridge. Photo by Sam
Middle Chiwaukum Summit Ridge. Photo by Sam

Gaia Topo (and Strava, which may use the Gaia Topo, haven't looked into it) has more and less interesting names for these two... Big McWaukum for Middle and the ever-present Mt. Baldy for North. I prefer Big McWaukum, not to be confused with Big Chiwaukum further south.

Daniel in the distance
Daniel in the distance
Alper on the ridge
Alper on the ridge

The past few weekends were beautiful but provided questionable avalanche conditions that prevented continued attempts on Whitehorse and Mount Garfield (northern approach, Taylor River).

With failed attempts at more illustrious peaks the past two weeks, it was nice to attain successful summits in the Chiwaukum with a wonderful party.

Fred and Fletcher had skied Middle and North earlier in the week albeit via a different route and our party plans for Ruby had, once again, become less desirable. This time it was due to a deteriorating forecast instead of a better forecast elsewhere. Regardless, with great weather during the day Saturday, Selena wanted to return to bag Middle Chiwaukum after a failed attempt with Jake and Dave last March.

The gang's all here
The gang's all here
Normal
Normal

Rikki, Sam, Alper, Selena, and I set off from the Cascade Meadows Camp/Retreat minutes before 9am for a 1.8 mile snow-road walk to the White Pine Trailhead. We walked about a mile before we begrudgingly donned snowshoes to prevent postholing. I was worried that a 9am would prevent us from summitting, but I'm also used to starting at 4-5am for everything. It was plenty of time with light until 8pm at the earliest.

We walked about a quarter mile down the trail and then diverted uphill. This uphill lasted for... a while. About a Mailbox worth, in fact. The snow down low was iced and the crampons on the snowshoes proved useful while another party booted up. We knew this because of the postholes that were seen every so often. After about 2,000' I encountered a fresh snowshoes track that popped out of nowhere! Not being a glutton for too much punishment, I followed it. Granted the snow wasn't bad, just breaking trail on anything adds up over time.

Lo and behold, I saw two snowshoers after about 300 vertical feet. But, those weren't our true saviors. About 1,000' up the fresh tracks we passed a party coming down that had begun a bit before 4am. I didn't verify, but I suspect that they broke the trail. Thank you, good sirs. Unfortunately, they didn't make it to Middle (Big McWaukum). Although, they did make it to North.

"fun"
"fun"
"mmmm....sunlight...ahhhh...sunlight" - every mountaineer immediately after direct sunlight and 2 minutes after direct sunlight
"mmmm....sunlight...ahhhh...sunlight" - every mountaineer immediately after direct sunlight and 2 minutes after direct sunlight

What seemed like not-too-long after, we popped out onto the ridge that afforded us our first open views of the day. All the struggle washed away (for me).

Photo courtesy of Alper
Photo courtesy of Alper
My photo of Alper in practically the same spot
My photo of Alper in practically the same spot
Ridge to North Chiwaukum
Ridge to North Chiwaukum
Selena and Sam admiring the easy ridge to the summit. Photo by Alper
Selena and Sam admiring the easy ridge to the summit. Photo by Alper
Action Shotzzz
Action Shotzzz

While ascending the ridge to North, we encountered two skiers coming up from Lake Ethel, which looked like a brutal(ly long) ascent from the lake. It's probably no worse than our ascent, but it looked rough. Two in our party thought that they knew one of the skiers but weren't certain at the time; turns out that they were right! (Thanks to peakbagger snooping)

Mating ritual
Mating ritual
Photo by Rikki of Sam ascending North
Photo by Rikki of Sam ascending North

We reached the summit of North Chiwaukum around 1:30 PM and the winds were definitely stronger at the summit. I immediately noticed snowmobile tracks on the summit...whoops (illegal but humorous). It's on snow so it's hard for me to be justifiably distraught. That's when I realized what looked like a strange snow print in the distance on Middle Chiwaukum. It seemed like a skier had done laps, but was in fact a snowmobile turning around (large loop). I'm ever impressed with where those things can go!

Summit shin-dig on North Chiwaukum
Summit shin-dig on North Chiwaukum
Snowmobile tracks
Snowmobile tracks
North summit smile. Photo by Alper
North summit smile. Photo by Alper

We retreated down to the col and up to the arm of Middle Chiwaukum. Around 7,200' is where we swapped snowshoes for crampons. The snow was perfect. Booting was easy both up and down. We summitted around 2:30 PM along with incoming weather.

Group gathering before the steeper bits. Photo by Alper
Group gathering before the steeper bits. Photo by Alper
Sam stepping in the lead
Sam stepping in the lead
Sam and I marching. Video by Alper
Sam and I marching. Video by Alper
South to Big Chiwaukum. Photo by Sam
South to Big Chiwaukum. Photo by Sam
South to East pano by Rikki
South to East pano by Rikki
Rikki and I looking south. Photo by Sam
Rikki and I looking south. Photo by Sam
What a wonderful gaggle of humans! Photo by Alper
What a wonderful gaggle of humans! Photo by Alper
Sam rocking out with his axe out. Photo by Alper
Sam rocking out with his axe out. Photo by Alper
My peeps descending the ridge. The two skiers getting ready to go up.
My peeps descending the ridge. The two skiers getting ready to go up.

We tromped down in the moderately soft wind-blown snow back to our snowshoes and back over North to the ridge to get out of the increasing winds. We took lunch some place on the ridge well below North for an extended break.

Looking back on Big McWaukum AKA Middle Chiwaukum
Looking back on Big McWaukum AKA Middle Chiwaukum

The descent on the ridge was great, but once we got into the trees, the snow had firmed. The firm snow coupled with the increased gradient provided tons of toes smashing in the snowshoes or postholing when the toe smashing was enough.

Photo by Rikki <3
Photo by Rikki <3
A bit steep for going down in snow shoes
A bit steep for going down in snow shoes
what funny looking leg
what funny looking leg

Soon enough we were back at the trail and the flat terrain back to the car was auto-pilot.
We arrived at the cars a bit before 6pm for a smidge under 10 hours round trip with plenty of breaks and no break-neck pace.

Trip stats: 9.5-11 miles
Gain: 5,700'-6,900'
Different apps/trackers give different stats... Despite loving gain, I actually always "log" less than my partners, some 1,200' less in this case. I use my phone and my experience has been that watches always give more gain. The average was about 10 miles and 6,000' of gain. smile.gif
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RichP
here and there



Joined: 13 Jul 2006
Posts: 5036 | TRs

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here and there
PostMon Apr 05, 2021 6:05 pm 
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Always a great looking trip with snow. Fun times!
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kitya
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Joined: 15 Mar 2010
Posts: 725 | TRs
Location: Duvall, WA
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Fortune Cookie
PostMon Apr 05, 2021 6:13 pm 
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snowmobiles should not go into alpine lakes wilderness, in fact i think this is illegal.
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Alden Ryno
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Joined: 04 Jun 2019
Posts: 105 | TRs
Location: Richland, WA
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PostMon Apr 05, 2021 6:49 pm 
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kitya wrote:
i think this is illegal.

It certainly is. They shouldn't be beyond the wilderness boundary
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Bluebird
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Joined: 22 Jan 2014
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suffering
PostMon Apr 05, 2021 9:05 pm 
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big mcwaukum all the way.  🙌🏻

all the spices: roadwalk, steep snowshoe up, fluffy corniced ridge, windblown slush, steep knife ridge and the super fun downhill 🏔  woo!
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ejain
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Joined: 27 Apr 2009
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PostFri Apr 09, 2021 12:08 am 
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Alden Ryno wrote:
Gaia Topo (and Strava, which may use the Gaia Topo, haven't looked into it) has more and less interesting names for these two... Big McWaukum for Middle and the ever-present Mt. Baldy for North. I prefer Big McWaukum, not to be confused with Big Chiwaukum further south.

Both are based on OpenStreetMap... If you prefer different names, you can easily go and change them there ;-)

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