IMG_3075 (3).jpg

Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Mount Ellinor (winter)

A trip up the winter route on Mount Ellinor on the nicest day so far this year. The chute is opening up quickly and it may not be glissadable for much longer.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The trail is snow free from the lower trailhead until around the upper trailhead junction. The winter route glissade chute has a lot of running water underneath it and it is getting thin in places. Depending on one’s risk tolerance, the glissade chute may only be “in” for another day or so given the current weather forecast. The largest hazard is a large, exposed rock with running water over it that you cannot see from above. It was extremely important to note the hazards on the ascent so we could walk around them on the way back down.

    I also observed a small loose wet avalanche on rocks above the chute. It stopped about 5’ from the cliff edge. If it was larger and had continued to gain momentum it would have covered the chute and the folks who were hanging out underneath the cliff. 

A group of 4 scramblers departed the lower trailhead at around 8:20 AM on Friday. The lot still had a few available spaces, but it was busy for a weekday. Given the forecast, it probably would have been ideal to leave earlier. However, the other participants were Seattle-based, and departing earlier would have meant very early wake up times for them all. 

We made good time to the chute. When it first came into view, we discussed whether we would put on crampons, helmets, and take out our ice axes, but at this point the snow was already so soft that it was easiest to use boots and trekking poles.


It was already hot and the snow was very soft. We post holed a bit but generally we were happy that we left our snowshoes in our cars, as there was already a bootpath kicked in. On the ascent, we took care to note thin areas with exposed rocks or water running underneath so that we could avoid them should we decide to glissade.


Before the chute got to its steepest, we put on helmets and took out our ice axes. We kept our crampons in our bags. 


At the summit, we were treated to views to all of Washington's volcanoes, the entire Olympic range, and the Seattle skyline. It was a little hazy and a periodic breeze made the heat more manageable.




We were able to glissade over 1000' of the route, but the conditions continued to deteriorate throughout the day and the chute was very thin with exposed rocks in places. One person we passed had injured her arm on a rock. Avalanche danger also increased considerably as the day progressed. These changing conditions offered plenty of opportunity to discuss avalanche danger, terrain traps, and overall route risk as a group. Everyone seemed happy with the decisions that we made throughout the day.

We were back at the cars before 3 PM. All in all, it was a great day in the mountains.