Summit Central ‘X’ Route
A ski mountaineering (“skimo”) workout at Snoqualmie Pass
is a fun route for mid-week skinning at night. The route stays near the
margins of the night skiing area during the ascents. In the diagram above
(click for popup version),
ascents are shown in red, descents in blue. The route starts near the Ski
Patrol building southeast of the Central Express chairlift. (See the first
aid symbol in the diagram.)
From the Ski Patrol Building, ascend left of the Golden Nugget run, keeping away from skier traffic. Angle left beneath the Reggie and Easy Street chairlifts and ascend the Silver Nugget run. This run is closed at night but diffuse light from the ski area makes it possible to climb without a headlamp.
Continue to the top of the Central Express chairlift and remove skins. Descend upper Alpine. Keep clear of the race course that is often set up on the skier's left side of Alpine.
Upon reaching the flats below upper Alpine, cut left (north) along the Cascade Crest. (Pass the first hump on the right, rather than going over the top of it.) There is usually a groomed cat-track to follow along the crest. Skate for several hundred yards to the top of the Triple 60 face.
Descend Triple 60 to the flats above the lower Triple 60 lift terminal. Traverse the flats leftward beneath the Triple 60, Gallery, and Holiday chairlifts. (To avoid conflicts with lift skiers, it is recommended to traverse just below Tower 5 of each of these lifts.) Cross below the Greenhorn Acres terrain park, keeping an eye out for skiers emerging from the park.
Apply skins and ascend climber's right (north) of Greenhorn Acres to the foot of Parachute. Remove skis and kick steps up the right side of Parachute, next to the trees. After climbing above the West-to-Central Crossover Trail, put your skis back on and ascend to near the top of the Triple 60 chairlift.
Remove skins and ski along the Top Traverse back to the middle section of the Alpine run. Descend Alpine to the flats near the bottom of the Central Express chairlift. After passing below Tower 2 of the lift, traverse right to return to the Ski Patrol building.
The enjoyment of this route comes from ninja-like speed and stealth. The route includes challenging climbs and descents, and it is usually well-groomed, so you can concentrate on technique and efficiency without getting bogged down in trail breaking.
Starting in the 2012-2013 ski season, uphill skinning is permitted at Summit Central. The ski patrol asks that you climb at the edge of active ski runs, near the trees, to avoid conflicts with downhill skiers. This may require modifying the route described here on weekends or daylight hours.
To continue to enjoy this route, I recommend maintaining a low profile. Keep your group small. Try not to be noticed. At several points, setting your track in the trees can enable you to be more discrete. Seek to be invisible. And have fun!