Not all of us have the means to migrate to the Southern Hemisphere to follow Winter. Whether it is lack of funds, a full-time job, or family commitments there are still a few of us that yearn to slide on snow after our Spring snowpack dwindles into Summer suncups. Here in the Pacific Northwest we are lucky enough to have a deep snow pack that lasts late into the Summer. So for the willing, we can make turns all year (there is even a great website here in the PNW that is dedicated to the Willing: www.turns-all-year.com). For me the last three years or so, late Spring and Summer have been my favorite riding times scoring pow and corn snow, and venturing into areas that generally take hours to approach because the roads are covered in 20ft of snow.
The Karakoram Shop is nestled in North Bend, WA at the base of the Cascades and Snoqualmie Pass. As the days get longer and the snow pack consolidates to perfect corn we shift our weekday dawn patrols to dusk patrols. The snow starts to refreeze as the sun goes down and you can get some amazingly fast snow once the slush crisps up. We do make mindful decisions about where to go based off of snowpack saturation, slope angle and chances of setting of large wet slides. We have good tours in the 25 minute to 1 hour drive lengths from shop, a quick lap at Alpental after the lifts are closed for the season, a couple nice little couloirs,or fast lines in nice north facing basins. We’ll ride these lines until the snow melts away, which is usually late June or early July if we’re really lucky.
The North Cascades are also really nice. They are a much longer drive from Seattle, so we’ll usually get up there for weekend tours. The higher elevation makes for some surprise pow days.
After the low elevation Snoqualmie Pass lines dry up Volcano Season heats up. Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, Mt. Shasta, Mt. Baker, so many choices. On July 5th almost the whole Karakoram Crew climbed Mt. Adams (minus Russell and Chad).I really enjoy the challenge of the 10-15 hour days. Starting before the sunrises, always feels to me like a little bit of a time warp. The sun comes up and we’ve already climbed 3,000 vertical feet.
Volcano climbs are always really rewarding, sharing stories with old and new friends while walking for hours, being surrounded by vast natural beauty , dreaming up new products and of course ripping 4500 vertical feet of 40° corn snow.Russell likes to get out on more of the mountaineering style snowboard lines that are great in the early Summer to mid Summer.
Most of the summer tours end up in a little adventure and bushwacking to get back to the car. Bushwacking is always fun.
Summer riding is generally a lot of work, but it makes for great adventure.