green envy | green mountain ski tour

8 miles . 3300 ft gain . 6500 ft high

Glacier Peak Wilderness

This is the redemption post. The one I dreamed and envied for a few years. The real one you should look at and not the one I posted 3 seasons ago cause that one, while witnessing a spectacular sunrise, we did not quite get the skiing we’d envision and we did 4 miles each way of road walking/skiing. This time instead of going mid-winter, we went early season. And this year, the snow coverage is later than past years, so it really was extra early for a solid snow pack. But when friends ask you to join them on a tour, you do it! And you bring your vague memory of it from previous years.

I first learned about Green Mountain when I was looking up hikes in my early years of hiking. The red huckleberry-covered slopes were so enticing and I convinced a friend to take a weekday off to hike it! Back then, the Suiattle Road was a washboard, but it’s since been regraded so lovely. We had no issues getting to the trailhead, but I’m sure by the next storm, the road will be snow covered. But until you find downed trees, the road is awesome!

White Chuck
Lots of sparse snow coverage

There was such little snow that I was doubtful that we could even ski anything. None of us brought quite the proper shoes to wear for the hike to get to the snow line, donning casual city boots (at least waterproof), crocs, approach shoes, and just normal shoes. But it was alright for the sunny day. Once we reached post-holing snow, we switched to ski boots so we could cut switchbacks (only okay in snow!!) and head straight up. Soon, the patchy snow became consistent and only 15 minutes or so of booting, we switched to skinning.

Contouring a little, we left the true trail and regained it under the proper main slopes of Green Mountain Lookout and took the least steep path up. I think Kyle broke trail the whole time, and I can’t complain for doing less work. We found a thin crust on top of a thick layer of powder from the previous storm-rain cycle and a half inch thick crust beneath that. I was worried the crusty layer wouldn’t thaw but I was wrong! The weather we got was akin to springtime and we were able to ski corn-like snow.

Checking our our ski line from the lookout
One of many views

On the ridge, we made some tighter switchbacks, testing our kickturn skills right before the lookout. Shortly after we got relaxing and photo-taking at the lookout, the wind picked up, beckoning us to leave the summit sooner than expected. I only packed my long telephoto lens so I missed a few photos I would’ve taken, like completely forgetting the lookout. Oops! But the telephoto was incredible for capturing the skiing from a distance. I thought that the short ski down the open face was by far the most enjoyable I’ve had in a while and especially on a December backcountry ski day!

A short skin up to reach our upper tracks and we were able to take our skin track/trail out, cutting a few corners when we saw some wider, connected snow patches. It was quite thin, skiing on brush sometimes, but we made it all the way to our ski boot transition on skis for the most part! I think this exceeded all our expectations and the whole trip was smoother than imagined. 5 hours from starting, we had returned. It was good enough I’d go back again when the conditions are favorable!

Taking turns photographing the ski descent

  • Low clearance can easily make it to the trailhead. Minimal potholes. However, the Green Mountain Lookout Road has some steep drop offs which may make a 2wd dicey in heavier snow conditions.
  • No toilet at the trailhead, but trail is well labeled.
  • We hiked on the trail one mile before putting on ski boots to boot up a couple hundred feet before skiing the rest. Relatively straightforward tour for the fairly open trees and mellow slopes above treeline, south facing.
  • See Kyle’s post here for more pictures.
  • See my previous post here for a day with different conditions

Photos shot on Canon 5D Mark IV, 70-200mm

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