Spring Time in the North Cascades

The North Cascades have to be one of my favorite places to tour. We are pretty spoiled with the variety of mountainous terrain we have within a three hour drive Seattle. The North Cascades are a little different than the rest of the mountains in Washington. They seem a bit more grand, maybe it’s the higher elevation, maybe it’s the larch groves, maybe it’s just that I always end up going to the North Cascades when have a bit more time to tour on my splitboard. What ever it is I always have a great time splitboarding up north. This season I was lucky enough to carve out time for two trips.

Trips usually start with a long drive from Seattle and then a bonfire on the side of Highway 20.

The terrain is incredibly varied. Some of the tours start in creek beds which create interesting twisty pathways.

Because we’re always climbing upwards, the trees will break and give a glimpse of the tops of the peaks we are slowly walking towards.

When you hit about 5,000ft the trees change from pines and firs to alpine larch trees. The first time I saw larch trees I thought they were dead. For those that have never seen a larch tree they lose their needles so they look like dead Christmas trees. In the fall the larch trees turn bright yellow.

Once you break the treeline the number of riding options can be overwhelming.

Sometimes you can get lucky and find icicle photon guns. These are very, very rare and should be handled with caution.

Once at the top you can always count on a great view. Craggy peaks…

6000 vertical feet of powder…

2000 vertical feet of fresh corn…

The Early Winter Spires…

…and maybe a golden wolf.

The ride down is even better than views. If you’re lucky you might get powder in late May.

If you don’t get powder, you can’t be sad with perfect corn conditions…

…marshmallows and pillows abound…

…and more pillows…

…and wind lips to slash…

…did I mention high speed powder turns?

These days bring lots of smiles.

And then you have to ride through the tight trees at the bottom which will sometimes make a smile go away.

Once out of the tight trees all that I ever remember is the views on the way up and the great terrain on the ride down. I love the North Cascades. They make a great testing ground for new gear.

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