Ascent of Hogback Mountain on 2016-03-19

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, March 19, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Ski Lift
Peak:Hogback Mountain
    Elevation:6789 ft / 2069 m

Ascent Trip Report

A chairlift at the White Pass Ski Area is very close to the summit of Hogback Mountain, so I decided to get in a day of skiing while bagging this error-range WA P2K summit. I arrived at the area at 10 AM after a long drive from the Seattle area--the winter closure of Cayuse Pass/WA 123 makes it very inconvenient to access this ski area, which is why I had never been there before.

A one-day lift ticket was $63. One must ride three chairlifts to get to the start of the off-piste hike: the Great White, Basin Quad, and Couloir Express. Easy beginner slopes connect the lifts. From the top of the Couloir lift, I skied to the right on a cat-track that goes slightly uphill for a few yards, where a gate permits egress over the ski area boundary rope-line. A sign warns of the usual disasters one could encounter away from patrolled terrain.

I had anticipated that there would be a boot-trail, so I took off my skis, slung them over my shoulder for the hike, but there was no beaten-down trail, just bottomless snow with some drifted over ski tracks from yesterday. I had brought my climbing skins but left them in the car to save weight in my little pack--dumb move. So I skied all the way back to the base, got my skins from my car, and rode the same three lifts up again to the same spot. I got in some practice skiing, anyway.

Once my skins were on I easily skied uphill, following a skin track put in by two fellow backcountry dudes I could see ahead. The gain of 300 feet on gentle terrain was easy to the false summit, and then I had to ski downhill on a corniced ridgecrest with skins on, not super fun but not terrible, before the final gentle climb to the summit. It only took about 20 minutes up.

I chatted briefly with the other two skiers, locals it seems, and they said that it was possible to drop in the appealing bowl to the east (Lake Miriam), and then skin back up in to the ski area. They took off, and after a rest and a snack it was my turn, and I too dropped into the east bowl. I was a bit scared of tree wells, getting injured, or avalanches, totally alone in the backcountry, so I conservatively skied down, trying not to lose too much elevation. One steep chute was nice, but I traversed out of it to head back. But it is too easy to lose elevation on skis, so when I finally came to a place where I could start heading up I was lower that I wanted to be.

So I put my skins on again, and sweated uphill out of the bowl for about 300 feet or so, finding a skin track from yesterday to help. The bowl was a solar collector and I was broiling. I reached a wide notch used by the PCT in the summer, and was back in the ski area boundary. Once again I stopped to do a gear change--skins off, fleece back on, lock down skis, check boots--and I was off for more downhill resort skiing.

I skied four more runs to get my money's worth, exploring the White Pass ski area a little bit--the area near Hogback Mountain is almost entirely gentle cruiser runs, and the harder terrain is under Great White lift from the main base. By about 2 PM I returned to my car for the long drive home.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:609 ft / 185 m
    Total Elevation Loss:769 ft / 234 m
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Skis, Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Windy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:309 ft / 94 m
    Route:S Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Couloir Express Lift  6480 ft / 1975 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:769 ft / 234 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 469 ft / 143 m; Extra: 300 ft / 91m
    Gain on way out:300 ft / 91 m
    Route:E Bowl
    End Trailhead:PCT Notch  6320 ft / 1926 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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