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Trip Report    

Lane Peak: Zipper & The Fly

A challenging ski descent in a great setting.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Snow was firm outside the trees, soft and breakable crust inside. No crampons or ice axe needed.

  • 0900 Narada Falls TH
  • 1100 Bottom of couloirs
  • 1130 Top of the Fly
  • 1215 Finish descending the Fly
  • 1245 Top of the Zipper
  • 1330 Finish descending the Zipper
  • 1400 Back at parking lot

Julia and I had originally planned to ski the Nisqually Chutes, but with the given cloud coverage (and chance of whiteout) on the Muir Snowfield we opted to do something closer to the parking lot and lower in elevation.

Alex had wanted to ski the Zipper on Lane Peak for awhile, and since climbing it 2 years ago I thought it would be a challenging ski descent. We linked up with Felicia, Zach, Susan, and Justin, a bunch of really hardcore splitboarders/skiers.


Lane Peak in view

The weather was forecasted to be partly sunny with temps rising to the low 40s at the top of Lane Peak with low avy danger. When we got to Longmire at 830 the sky was sunnier than expected.
We booted the initial slope to the road, skinned a short bit, and ripped skins to descend to the creek. The skiing through the punchable crust was quite rough, with an old knee injury not helping. But the elevation loss was low, and very soon we were skinning again to the base of the couloirs.


Base of Lane Peak

Ahead of us were 2 parties in the Zipper and one in the Fly. Another party would be joining us up for the Fly. Initially I intended to only ski one couloir, but since they were so short and right next to each other we couldn't help but ski both.

Booting up the Fly was very straightforward, even though the snow was a little deep. No crampons or ice axe needed, but some party members had them to practice. Looking at the slope angle though, it seemed like the ski down would be pretty intimidating.

At the top as we set up to descent the parties before us ripped down like professionals on an Olympic halfpipe. Sometimes watching people ski is just a sight to behold. Looking down the couloir though it was pretty intimidating. The very top was quite narrow, and I knew I'd have to sideslip part of the way down.

Zach descended first, making powerful jump turns as he quickly descended. Then went Justin, Susan and Felicia, who looked like they were at home at this steepness. I descended after, sideslipping through the choke, then forcing myself to make the first turn.


Zach sends the Fly

The snow was somewhat soft with a firm layer beneath, and afterwards I gained the confidence I needed to make turns through the widening couloir back down to the base. Julia and Alex followed shortly. Our warmup was done.


Justin and Julia exit the Fly

Going up the Zipper the snow was warming up and getting firmer. Again, we didn't need ice axes or crampons, but at this point there was snow sluffing down on us, forming a runnel through the middle of the couloir. There were two rocks showing at the top of the couloir, which make the entrance spookier. A pair of climbers coming down Lover's Lane joined with us at the end.


Felicia, Justin, Susan, and Julia finish their ascent


Crew on top

The descent down the Zipper was much more challenging. The entire couloir was much more narrow and the snow firmer. While the rest of the party seemed to have more fun, my descent was a lot of sidestepping with careful turns in between.


Taking a breath before plunging


Julia stares down the Zipper

Since I hadn't sharpened my skis in awhile (d'oh) this made landing jumps feel quite a bit more treacherous and nerve wracking. Eventually I made it down in one piece as a few more skiers contemplated whether they should continue with all the sluff coming down.
After regrouping, we quickly made our way back to the creek, where the soul crushing ascent through the early spring heat to the road began again. Good thing it was a short climb.


Routes for the day

All in all, it was a great and challenging day. The skiing is definitely much, much more difficult than the climb.