Trip Report    

Mount Ellinor & Mount Washington

Great winter scramble up Mt. Ellinor on a gorgeous day. Snow conditions were good early in the day and the couloir was fairly easy to navigate.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The route is in great shape, lots of good snow in the col to scramble up.

Had a beautiful day for a trip up the Mt. Ellinor winter route. Arrived to the TH at about 6:30. The road is in good shape and becomes snow covered (at least right now) a mile-ish from the lower trailhead where there's plenty of room to park off to the side. The trail is intermittently snow covered until a bit before the couloir heading up towards the summit and was surprisingly slippery early on. The snow on the couloir was solid when we started ascending at maybe 9 or so. Got to the summit at 10:30, about 3.5 hours after gearing up and leaving the cars. Crampons are required to get up the couloir in the morning when the snow is icy, microspikes were working for people later on as we were descending and the snow was softer. It gets steep! I'd say class 3 on the exposure/fall danger side. A little scary at times, but slow breathing and consistent movement will get you up and down. Regardless of traction, definitely have an ice axe and know how to self arrest. The runout of the couloir isn't bad, but you'd be likely to hit one of the sides or a turn on an uncontrolled slide back down. Don't be the people 'sending it' with only microspikes and trekking poles and run the risk of injuring yourself or someone else when you slip and can't stop. Went by lots of people ascending on the way down, the trip up was definitely easier early on when the snow was hard and there wasn't a slip backwards for every other step up. Lots of fun glissading down on the soft snow though! We missed the turnoff to the lower TH and ended up back at the upper TH. There's a connector trail that cuts down to lower on the road, which then goes back to the lower TH, so no worries if you do the same thing! There's also an open bathroom at the upper TH if you prioritize that for a little bit more distance.

The avi conditions were good early and, predictably, deteriorating somewhat by the later morning. It is a south facing chute after all. The snow was solid still but I wouldn't be surprised if there were some small human triggered wet loose slides as the day progressed. This is a hard area to get good avi reports on since it's so far removed from the center of the Olympics. There was evidence of a pretty large slab avalanche on the flanks of Mt. Washington but it was hard to tell how old it was.