Last week I had a chance to finally ski a “new classic” tour in the Central Cascades. Pioneered by John Race and Ben Mitchell in 2006, the Chiwaukum Traverse crosses classic touring terrain from just east of Stevens Pass to the upper reaches of the Icicle Valley east of Leavenworth.

We chose to do the tour in two days, from north-to-south, as to descend sun softened snow and avoid the endless hike up Chatter Creek. It was a wise decision. After just an hour of walking up an old logging road below the Swath, we were on skis for the remainder of our time in the high country. On the exit, we spent two more hours walking down a dry Chatter Creek trail back to our second car. I think this is the best way to do the traverse in the spring months, whereas mid-winter it might make sense to go the other way to ski more powder.