Photo: Big Jim Mountain — a peak that once sported a full head of glaciers is looking bald now.
by Tom Janisch
Big Jim Mountain off Icicle Ridge once harbored three glaciers, each flowing into Tumwater Canyon. Furthermore, the peak is visible from Wenatchee, so a ski tour up this once-glaciated temptress beckoned.
On April 25, I approached from Hatchery Creek and left the car about one mile up Hatchery Creek Road. The road was blocked by what looked to be continuous snow. Skins on skis were donned. The snow patch thinned and shortly ended. Skis over shoulder, it was now a walk up the remainder of the Hatchery Creek Road. There were only intermittent snow patches on the road and these should be melted out in about a week.
The Hatchery Creek Trail starts at 2,700 feet and was bare of snow. By about 4,000 feet, I was booting through thin snow and by 4,600 feet had enough snow to skin continuously. The snow-covered Hatchery Creek Trail was followed to about 6,000 feet. The crest of the ridge system east of Lake Augusta made for a fun traverse and the views along this ridge system provided splendid views of the Enchantments, East Pyramid of Mount Cashmere, and Icicle Ridge.
Photo Right: The East Pyramid of Mt. Cashmere
Delightful corn snow was skied off the ridge to Cabin Creek. The upper reaches of Cabin creek have beautiful gnarled larches. Lake Augusta at 6,854 feet seemed cold and desolate.
Photo Left: Desolate beauty
The original objective was to ski the steep slopes above Lake Augusta up to Big Jim Mountain. However, the large crowns of avalanches that had triggered over the past few days flanked the slopes I would be climbing. Cornices on the upper portion of my route further dampened by enthusiasm for Plan A.
Deciding there was no rush to make myself dead (something clients may disagree with), I skied the gentler southeast ridge of Peaklet 7,571’ immediately west of Lake Augusta. From here there are spectacular views to the south to Icicle Ridge and the Cabin Creek drainage. A short distance to the north stood Big Jim Mountain whose top was bare of snow and provided the trait for naming this the Bald Jim Tour.
The return trip from Lake Augusta to the melted out Hatchery Creek Trail provided delightful corn-snow skiing. The final treat after a funola day on skis? Trillium accenting the trail.
Fitness: 3 (a solid day’s effort).
Skill Level: 2+ to 3 -. Advanced Intermediate skills.
Access. Drive Highway 2 to milepost 90.5 and turn south onto the Hatchery Creek Road. Note: When heading west, the road is immediately after the steel bridge crossing the Wenatchee River and just before the Tumwater Campground. Drive as far as snow allows and park.
Trip Instructions and Map. See the trip report above and our topo map below of the route.
Fees/Permits. None needed in winter. In summer, Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead.
Reporter (and date). Tom Janisch, April 27, 2009
Leave It Better Than You Found It: This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull some noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over unwanted spur trails, don’t ride or walk wet trails when you’re leaving ruts/footprints deeper than ¼ inch…
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.