Ascent of Cowboy Mountain on 2017-11-26

Climber: Greg Slayden

Others in Party:Eric Gilbertson
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, November 26, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Cowboy Mountain
    Elevation:5853 ft / 1783 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was an early season ski trip at the closed Stevens Pass ski area. The resort had opened breifly about a week or two ago, but a recent warm and rainly spell had reduced the snowpack to where it was not up to resort standards. But there was enough snow for us to make use of their trails for easy travel.

We skinned up the International and Cloud 9 ski trails steeply to the top of the 7th Heaven lift and then along the ridge to the summit of Cowboy Mountain. The weather was unexpectedly nice--the expected rain/snow was insetad some partial sunshine and blue sky.

We did not relish the descent the way we came up--the terrain was steep and rocky with thin cover. The backside of the mountain had some inviting open sunny meadows, and after our summit rest we decided to head down this way. I realized this was likely the "Tunnel Creek" descent made infamous by a deadly 2012 avalanche, and that following this run to the base would take us to US 2 well below Stevens Pass. So we only skied about 500 vertical feet down the pleasant meadows before cutting left into the forest so we could get back to the ski area.

This was a long and tiring traverse that featured a great deal of ski bushwhacking as we crossed ridges, bowls, talus fields, and cols. The weather deteriorated quickly to heavy wet snowfall, and my climbing skins lost their glue and would not stay on my skis without some of Eric's duct tape. We made our way to the col ESE of Cowboy Mountian, but it was too steep and cliffy to descend from there. So we went along a nice rolling ridge, took an inviting wrong turn on good terrain due south, found a snowed-over powerline access road, and finally made the short climb to the PCT col at the ski area boundary.

We had been planning to try to get to the Big Chief peak, but the snowy white-out weather, my dysfunctional skins, and our fatigue from the challenging bushwhack traverse made the easy blue trail descent too tempting. So we skied down the Skid Road, 76 Road, and Daisy Chair runs to the base of the ski area and our car.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2192 ft / 667 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2192 ft / 668 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5.4 mi / 8.7 km
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Skis, Ski Poles
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Windy, Overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1792 ft / 546 m
    Distance:1.9 mi / 3.1 km
    Route:Int'l, Cloud 9
    Start Trailhead:Stevens Pass  4061 ft / 1237 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2192 ft / 668 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1792 ft / 546 m; Extra: 400 ft / 121m
    Gain on way out:400 ft / 121 m
    Distance:3.5 mi / 5.6 km
    Route:Backside, bushwhack, 76 Rd
    End Trailhead:Stevens Pass  4061 ft / 1237 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.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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