Archives for May 2016

Washington Pass Birthday Tour

I have been wanting to do the classic Washington Pass Birthday Tour for awhile and had a good weather window, so it was game on. Peter, John and I all met up in Burlington to start the long drive up to Washington Pass. We started the tour at the Blue Lake trailhead, but apparently you can also park at the Washington Pass observation site turn and then don’t have as far to get back to the car from the hairpin turn. It was hot that day and I found myself shedding my shell pants for shorts in no time. As is usual with WA Pass around springtime, the northern slopes were really icy and made for some interesting touring. We made it to the notch just south of early winter spires in no time thanks to Peter crushing the vertical. From here, we headed up the icy boot pack watching the sun glare onto the massive cornice to our right. I will note here that it would have been nice to have an ice ax or whippet in this situation. From Blue Peak Col, we ascended nice corn snow down to Copper Creek drainage, trending skiers left as we made our way down. After shaking out our legs from hitting some heavy snow near the bottom, we headed up to Copper Pass in the hopes of ascending Copper Mountain, but it would have involved some climbing as the snow had melted away and exposed a large portion of rock. We instead skied down to bottom of the basin and then headed up to the Copper Col to get some nice steep turns in. At this point the sun had heated up a lot and it was baking so we headed up the obvious skin track to drop down back to the hairpin turn. We made it back down to the road and were lucky to find a couple who offered us a ride back to the car. We managed to do the tour in around 5 hrs with some side trips. All in all the birthday tour is a beginner classic but might be a little boring if you are more experienced. There is a ton of terrain in WA Pass, so lots more to explore.

Thanks to John and Peter for the pictures!