Camping in the Dirt at Steven’s Pass


Leigh Ann contemplating life with at the closed ski resort.

The Denali Girls just had our 3rd overnight training.  This time we loaded up our sleds and headed to Steven’s Pass.   With El Nino weather, we have an impossibly low snow year.  This means your Denali Girls are having a hard time finding enough snow to practice in.


Yes, those brown patches are dirt.

Steven’s Pass is possibly the last patch of snow in the state of Washington.  This is mostly because the resort made some snow artificially to try to stay open longer (this was unsuccessful and we’re all getting deeply discounted passes for next year).  Still, there’s only like 4 inches of snow to work with… and it was rapidly melting as we worked.


We found a little snow high on Rock Mountain.

We spent the weekend at the closed ski resort, taking advantage of the snowy slopes to work with loaded sleds.  We practiced traveling as a team in crevasse country by tying into harnesses and working with the ropes and pickets as protection.  We basically did laps up and down the ski slope, placing and passing running belays with our sleds.  I’m sure whoever saw us, thought we were nuts.  Wait!  We are nuts!


Little campsite under the big ski lift.

Saturday evening, we hunkered down in the rain and last bit of snow to do a little winter camping, work with the stoves and talk about strategies.


Special Guest Star: Tristan!


On Sunday, we were joined by our Special Guest Star: Tristan for a conditioner hike up Rock Mountain with 45 – 60 lb loads as training weight.  It rained, it snowed, it was sunny, it was cloudy. Ahh… spring in the Cascades.  Don’t like the weather? Wait 10 minutes.  It will change.


Carolyn is wearing shorts. It was that kind of a day.

Thanks to Tristan for taking a team photo.  We needed a photo of us all together!


Not sure what’s happening with my jacket, here… but we’re all together, nonetheless.

And Thanks to Leigh Ann for driving us again.  She has a truck.  It’s hard to fit the sleds in my car.  The sleds fit in her car… so she has to drive a lot.  But, I really do appreciate it.


Leigh Ann at the helm.

2 thoughts on “Camping in the Dirt at Steven’s Pass

  1. That’s crazy that there is so little snow out there! Obviously Denali is quite a bit north of you, but has El Nino had any serious effect on the snow conditions up there?


  2. Hey Jimmy! Yeah, we’ve done some recon with our friends up in Anchorage, and they’ve had a supremely low snow year, too. We’ve heard all around that there was a similarly low snow year in 2005 (in both places) so are actually working on digging up some weather and temperature data from that year, to get a sense for what we’re up against. Many Denali climbing parties go a bit later in May (mid-May to the end of the month, depending on whether they’re planning on skiing or snowshoeing up), but we erred on snowshoes and leaving on the early side to beat the crowds. It’s looking like instead, we’ll be beating the too-warm weather, snowpack instability, and higher end of the risk of snow bridges melting out. It has been truly been a bizarre year, weather-wise! Thanks for the question! 🙂


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