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Snow levels on PCT near Glacier Peak

I flew over Galcier Peak and environs yesterday to evaluate a trip from
Stevens Pass to Rainy Pass

the PCT runs along a North-south ridge just South of Galcier Peak (M aps
K4,5,6,7), this is largely under snow depending somewhat on exposure, but
Saddle Gap, Dispan GAp, Cadddy Gap, Indian Pass, and white Pass are mostly
snowed in(Sally Keyes Lake frozen and surrounded by snow).In a lot of
places you would be on snow2/3 to 1/2 the time.  The snow level is about
5,000 feet here.  this is probably passable to a hiker equiped with an ice
ax and the skill to use it(patchy snow frequently is more dangerous than
snowpack because the runout is shorter).  Depending on overnight
temperatures, crampons may also be necessary.  The slope between White Pass
and Red pass is snow free - it has a more southerly exposure.  The basin
beyond Red Pass is snow pack down to about 4,500 feet.  

Most of the terrain( gullies excluded) leading over to Fire Creek Pass are
without snow (I have no idea if it is passable however). You can see the
fire creek ridge cairn clearly, but the snow pack on the north side is deep
and pervasive.  Mica Lake is completely frozen and the snow extends down
500 feet to the campsite below the lake, then rapidly dissipates below

I could see the Milk Creek bridge and all the switch backs coming up and
out of Milk Creek(heavy brush) - see maps K8 and 9. As soon as you top out
,the snowpack again becomes pervasive and does not ameliorate until
decscending down into Vista Creek from Vista ridge.  

Once you reach Vista creek and the Suiattle River, I could not see any snow
all the way to Stehekin or to Rainy Pass for that matter.  I followed the
trail over Suiattle Pass (K11) and even though it is higher than the ridge
south of Glacier, it is snow free, as are the 2 high basins you traverse
before descending into Agnes Creek( a couple of avalanche and snow gulley
remments).  I did not follow the trail all the way to Rainy Pass but the
valley bottom looked snow free for as far as I could see.

It is obvious that the Paysaten that the PCT travels through North of Rainy
Pass received much less snow than the Glacier area. I was surprised at how
much terrain was snow free  - I could see ridge after ridge with much less
snow.  I did not follow the trail north of Rainy Pass but the snow will be
at a higher elevation, unfortunately the trail also is at a higher
elevation in much of this section, so I do not know what the conditons are.
 It is not uncommon to be stopped by a relatievely small patch of snow that
is steep, icey and blocks the North side of a notch in a ridge, in an area
that may otherwise be snow free.

Joanne Lennox

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