Spring Snowboarding

Wedge Mt. (Leavenworth), Inter Glacier (Mt. Rainier)

April, May 2003

Dave Svilar, Matt Elley, Sally Vail (Elley)

Spring in the Cascades is good for only one thing: backcountry skiing/snowboarding.  Even though you're statistically just as likely to get killed by an avalanche in May the snowpack is generally much more stable than in winter months.  Good descents can be found on nearly every peak in April and May, while the volcanoes provide good skiing/riding into July.  Fresh off a winter in Colorado I was ready to join forces with my top snowboarding companion, Matt for a couple of trips in the Cascades.  In the course of several short months Matt had made a significant change to his life - he had added a fiancÚ. 

Over the years Matt and I had established a mutual disdain for females that interrupted our free time.  Our track record with the opposite sex was almost non-existent.  Now Matt proposed to bring a girl on one of our outings!  I was skeptical.  Luckily Matt chose well, and Sally, a former track star at Boise St. proved to be a more than capable backcountry companion.  In fact, our two spring outings to Wedge Mt and Mt Rainier's Inter Glacier were so lame that getting to know Sally is about all I remember.

In April we planned to do a repeat of our previous year's trip to Mt. St. Helens, but the weather forced us to Plan B on the east side of the crest.  The road to the Ingalls Peak area was closed, so Plan C was implemented - Wedge Mt (McClellan Ridge) near Leavenworth.  The route was burned out by an old forest fire which gave the feeling of hiking through a clear-cut.  The ride down was an exercise in linking patches of snow in order to avoid un-strapping to walk.  All in all, far from epic, even far from okay, but we still had a great time.  Whatever it is about hiking with a snowboard and then riding back down...  It's fun every time. 

Our trip to the Inter Glacier promised to be better, but the snow conditions were the worst I've ever seen.  Tele-markers we passed on the way up were literally not making it down.  We wondered how there could be so many bad skiers in one place until we strapped on and tried the descent for ourselves.  It was like riding through two feet of wet cement.  We had the advantage on our snowboards, but none of us were too upset when the ride was over.

Unfortunately Sally missed our one good outing on Mt. Baker, but hopefully she'll get a good outing with Matt and I in future years.

Matt and Sally hiking through forest fire remnants on Wedge Mt.


'Wedgie' Mt.


Love-birds Sally and Matt with the Snow Creek drainage as their backdrop.


Dave plowing through the crud on the Inter Glacier.

-written September 2003

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