Circumnavigation of Chair Peak

Coming back up from Melakwa Lake

After two awesome days of climbing in Vantage, I came back to town and met Cam for a little President's Day ski tour.  As we drove up towards Snoqualmie Pass, I didn't actually know what our objective would be--I assumed a simple skin up to Pineapple Pass and some laps.  As we pulled into the upper parking lot, Cam started talking about circumnavigating Chair Peak.  My lack of preparation (no real lunch other than bars, aching arms from two days of climbing, and first time on skins for the season), was mildly alarming to me, but I successfully suppressed any fear and put a smile on.  It was time to get dragged around a bit.

We passed a group while still heading toward The Tooth (mainly due to Cam's stance that switchbacks are typically unnecessary and that, as long as skins are grabbing, one should go straight up) and then took a right to start skirting Bryant Peak.  We hit one section steep enough that a boot-pack was necessary, but otherwise were able to make good progress on our skis.

Just over the Bryant-Chair Col, we hit an incredibly fun section of powder with only one other track.  We cruised down toward Melakwa Lake (ok, Cam cruised and I did one submarine-tip double-ejection superman fall, then cruised).  From there, it was a long, but pretty mellow, ascent up to Melakwa Pass, where we struggled to see where the cornice broke since the light was so flat.  Cam grabbed some pine needles and chucked them over the lip so we could see.  With a little more confidence, we headed down a steep, fluffy pitch of skiing to Chair Lake, popped the skins on briefly to get over one more rise, and then had a longer, really fun descent to Snow Lake.  As we headed down our run, which felt plenty hard for me, some skiers were coming down a tight chute from higher on Chair Peak.  It looked burly.

Snow Lake was gorgeous and perfectly flat for quite a ways, so Cam broke a "conversation" track next to me and we chatted our way until the last climb, which brought us up above Source Lake.  A bumpy descent through avalanche debris got us down to the well-traveled 'bobsled run' and back out to our car.  The whole adventure was about 5 hours and we weren't pushing the pace much.  Good times!