Tumwater Canyon is wild, remote and rugged. It’s steep, it’s big and it is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s located just west of Leavenworth and actually defines the western edge of the Bavarian Village. I had been dreaming about skiing a particular ridge into Tumwater Canyon for maybe 10 years.
Tumwater Canyon is wild, remote and rugged. It’s steep, it’s big and it is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s located just west of Leavenworth and actually defines the western edge of the Bavarian Village. I had been dreaming about skiing a particular ridge into Tumwater Canyon for maybe 10 years. The tricky thing about the skiing here is it characterized by steep avalanche paths that usually end in cliffs or rocks so a ski descent is somewhat of a large adventure. It’s base elevation is also just under 1200ft so it has to be an above average snow year for the possibility of skiing to the valley floor. The Window was open late this year so I called a couple of super shredders, Adam ( Leavenworth Mountain Sports ) Mckenney and Rex ( The King, Double Crusher ) Flake and didn’t really invite them but more begged them to come with me because I couldn’t do it without these high end mountain travellers. Adam sacrificed a family day for this and Rex had to dance till midnight with his super lady Heidi and hence his additional nickname Double Crusher. In the end they did both sign up for this trip and we had a meeting time of 215am.
We were boot packing up the snow free Icicle Ridge Trail at 3am. The travel here was good with a mix of snow across the trail every so often. As soon as we hit the Icicle Ridge Trail saddle the snow became deep and good for skinning although travel was slow breaking trail through deep untracked snow.
The travel here was rolling terrain with burnt trees from the 1994 fire. Once on top of the ridge you could see deep in both the direction of the Enchantments and the Wenatchee Valley. None of us had been up here before in winter so it was a full exploration for us to find the line of our dreams. We had to go down to each overlook as to try to find the entrance to the line which was critical to make sure we were in the right spot because you don’t want to end up in the wrong place here. You have the potential to get into some wicked not good places in the Canyon so we took our time and sussed it out well. We did indeed find the correct line but it took 11 hours of walking endlessly to get to it. We must have gone up and down to 15 summits. Everything seemed so close but it’s a huge ridge filled with ups and downs.
Now on top of our line we had just under 6000 vertical feet of unknown terrain to get back to the car which was parked just on the other side of the Red Bridge. We drop in and find a magical ridge which has powder snow on the north facing flanks and corn snow on the southern flanks. We danced back and forth along the ridge and at every question mark of where to go the path lay itself out in front of us. The ridge offered us excellent slopes of steep skiing. We hit the Red Bridge Trail and skied to the car in a 13 hour round trip and one of my favorite ski descents was now complete.