Words cannot come close to describing how amazing this overnight ski tour of Silver Star Mountain was, but i will do my best since blogs require words! We left home at about 1am (yes I know, yikes!) and arrived at Silver Star Creek along Highway 20 at about 6:30am. After a nap we got moving at about 7:30. The route begins on the south side of the highway on the left side of Silver Star Creek. We skinned up thick trees on snow that was so icy that I had to make up of the ski crampons for the very first time. We went a bit to high a one point following ski tracks that gained elevation, but we easily skis down an open slope and back into the trees. The key to to stay low and near Silver Star Creek. At 4444feet we closed the creek via a snow bridge and followed ski tracks up the right side for a bit. Then the waterway became snowed in enough for us to actually skin in the creek. Beware though as there are some deep holes in the snow with water running below! This route also included skinning up a steep area that I can only guess is a waterfall in the summer. Nothing was too dicey though.

Eventually the skin track left the creek to the left via a ramp and we were in the trees again. There were a few tracks in the trees, but we just picked one and continued to ski straight into the valley. We remained at 5000ft for what seemed like forever until the trees parted revealing the snow Silver Star Meadows and our first fully view of Silver Star and the Burgundy Spires… still very far away!

We skied to the head of the valley. A large headwall guards the upper basin, but there is an obviously gully area where the trees are sparse and the grade less steep. We climbed the gully which through being less steep then the surrounding wall was still rather steep! At about 6000ish feet we followed te ski track hard left and traverse along the headwall below Vasiliki Ridge until the trees opened and revealed the wide snowy basin below Silver Star.

We sent up camp near some bare larches and watched some skiers descend Silver Star Col in the distance. Lots of folks do this trip in a day. Heli-skiing is also popular in the area. We passed several heli-pads and saw a bunch of helicopters on our way up. But the whole experience is much more enjoyable as a two day in my opinion. The area is spell-binding and the round trip for that day ended up being 8 miles as it was.

But at that point the day wasn’t over yet. We rested a bit and set up camp before starting our once again at 2:30. We stayed the left the left side of the large buttress that split the snow slope leading up the Silver Star Col. There was pretty good skin track, but we were the only folks going up so late in the day. The last few people on the mountain were descending. The climb seemed to go quickly. We ran into an ice spotting on the second big “hump”. I recommending making large and gradual switchbacks here. The final push to the col as also exceptionally steep, but once again long switchbacks solve the issue.

From the top of the col we could see the mountains to the North stretching far into Canada. To the South laid the North Cascades with the perfect view of the liberty bell group. But we were not done yet. It was time to take off our skis and climb the final several hundred feet to the top. There was a boot pack already in. We followed it up and around the left side of the peak. The rock was mostly covered and the steps stable. However, the final climb went straight up a nearly vertical staircase of snow. This climb was steep, exposed and a sketch since the snow was powdery. We didn;t on the summit long except to snap some photos and videos, but the views were amazing. The was down this snow ladder was tedious and slow. One slip would have fatal consequences (this is a class 4-5).

Once we made it back down to the skis safely we prepared to descend. We were pleasantly surprised by the unusually deep powder we encountered on the upper col! The whole route down had deep powder and making for a fast, scenic and adventurous descent back to camp. Damien had some tight turns so perfect he looked like a pro skier! This run trumped Mt St Helens from last week!

Back at camp enjoyed our Mountain House meals under a dimming sky in the shadow of the Wine Spires before returing for the night. Sometime after midnight snow began to fall, and we woke up at 7 to a snowy wonderland. The mountains had all but vanished in heavy snow and thick mist. The work was white and all we could see where the nearby larches. It was beautiful. We opted to wait a bit to pack up and continue our descent. The weather was supposed to clear up later in the morning, and sure enough at 9:00 when we were packed and ready visibility had improved quite a bit.

We traverse left toward the gully we had climbed up aiming slightly down. Navigating through the trees wasn’t too difficult though route finding was definitely necessary. We eventually found own way to the gully and skied easily the rest of the way down through the sparse trees into the meadow.  Once we re-entered the trees on the other side of the meadow we put on our skins in preparation for the long, flat traverse. Here route finding got tricky. We followed some ski tracks that often disappeared heading in the general direction of North and slightly left until we reached the creek ramp. Here we removed our skins and skied down the narrow creek carefully avoiding the gaping holes. At 4400 feet we crossed onto the right side and descended through thick, steep forest to the road. This was my first tree skiing experience. Scary as I was certain I’d crash, but also lots of fun (especially since I didn’t crash).

Highly recommended ski tour into the beautiful wilderness that is the North Cascades! VIEW VIDEO

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