I had an amazing day today in my local alpine backyard of Snoqualmie Pass.  It was apparent a few days ago that Wednesday was going to be a clear (or mostly so) sunny day in the Cascades…and one that happens to fall at the end of a long dry spell–meaning that conditions for alpine climbing were going to be good, if not excellent.  I schemed up a plan with my guiding buddy Lyle for a late-start day mission objective, given his inability to leave Seattle until about 7:30am.  There aren’t that many options for winter routes that meet our criteria (late start and a shaded aspect), so we chose to have a go on the North Face of Chair Peak.  I woke at the very sane hour of 7am and rendezvoused with Lyle in North Bend shortly thereafter.

Approaching Chair Peak

The approach is a familiar one after spending a good bit of time here this winter and in years past.  We set a nice moderate pace and found ourselves skinning up to the base of the route about two hours after leaving the car, just shy of eleven in the morning.

The north side of Chair Peak

We climbed the route in three pitches, after Lyle opted to not build a belay atop the first pitch.  Conditions were icy on the face and, as such, I didn’t mind a bit of simul-climbing in lieu of pitched climbing given the solid conditions.

Finishing up pitch two

Starting pitch 3

Arriving at the belay on pitch 3

The remaining pitches went smoothly and soon we were basking in the sun near the summit.  I hadn’t climbed the route in almost a decade, so it was quite fun to take in the view, soak up some rays from the windless sky, and enjoy our ascent of a true Cascade classic.  Since we had carried our skis up the route, we decided that we may as well make use of them on the descent.  After a short false start (in the wrong gully…it had been a decade after all), we found ourselves making jump turns down the descent route towards the rap station.

False Start!

The alternate couloir

…and the real descent gully!

Lyle skiing down to the rappel station

A  short rappel and some downclimbing positioned us for a 2500′ ski back to the car.  What a great day in my backyard!