Doerte and Dave Schuldt doing some kick and glide on the Iron Horse Trail after the descent from Stampede Pass.  

Stampede Pass Ski Tour 3,700'

Trip Report

Wenatchee National Forest

 

January 29, 2006




 

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I had always wanted to ski to Stampede Pass and visit the historic Meany Ski Lodge. I managed to get Doerte, Beck, and Dave to agree it might be fun. Since it was on a groomed surface we took our skinny skis.

Stampede Pass-
"100 Best Cross-country Ski Trails in Washington"
by Vicky Spring & Tom Kirkendall

Open to: all uses
Surface: groomed for snowmobiles, no ski tracks
Rating: more difficult
Round trip: 10 miles
Skiing time: 4 hours
Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
High point: 3,700 feet
Best: December - March
Avalanche potential: low

All this is true except the "100 best part" Vicky and Tom must of written this prior to this fine area becoming a snowmobile nascar track. It is certainly no place for skiers! Beck managed to get some snowmobilers to give us some information and we were the first skiers they had ever seen. I caulk it up to a learning experience. A few snowmobiles is okay, but 100's is not that much fun. This tour is not recommended unless your senses are broken.

Our team, Dave Schuldt, Doerte Mahanay, and Mike Beck, after the descent on the Iron Horse. We were very happy to finally be away from the noise and exhaust of the snowmobiles.
Snowmobiles are not allowed on this section of the Iron Horse.

 

The Tour-

We parked in the skiers section of the Crystal Springs Sno Park. (Groomed Trail Permit required) From the snowmobile ghetto parking area we carried our skis a short distance and then skied through the trees to meet the main road at a wide intersection.

We headed up Road 54, crossing the groomed Iron Horse Trail at 1/4 mile. Anyone who has been here before will gladly get on the safety of the Iron Horse. It is wonderful ski back to Hyak, about 8 miles one way.

Soon the road divides. The right is road 5484. We stayed left with Road 54 as it swings east, starting the long climb to Stampede Pass. To access the Mountaineers Meany Hut, take the very next left. This was actually are destination, but we were not aware of this turn. Here is the may we didn't have: http://www.meanylodge.com/meany/direction/dmap.jpg

We climbed steadily to the powerline clearing at 1 1/2 miles. At this point, the road begins a short series of switchbacks, where we had excellent views of the Yakima River Valley, Amabilis Mountain, and the Keechelus Ridge area. The powerlines were very noisy. Near the 3 mile mark there is another major intersection, as Road 41 to Easton branches left.

Stampede Pass Road heads to the right and carves across the steep, logged walls of Mosquito Creek valley. There are two roads on the right; the second one, Spur Road 332, connects with Road 5484. (This spur can be used as a loop back to the start.) At 4 miles the road crests the unpretentious summit of 3,700 foot Stampede Pass.

There are lots of nice glades to ski, but one has to weave among the snowmobiles in most cases. Other than the weekends and holidays this area might be okay. Greg Balco reports, "I often skate ski in that area on weekday mornings, on the ski-doo roads up to Stampede Pass itself and to Lost Lake. Not many snow machines early on a Tuesday, and often you catch the nice grooming before anyone has a chance to mess it up. It's possible to skate for essentially unlimited distances, the size of the groomed ski-doo trail system is amazing."

The recent Nordic Clinic at Hyak presented by PSIA Level 3 Instructors Karel Zikan and Eli Holmes for the Washington Alpine Club. The next one is Feb 26.

It was an excellent clinic. We did some drills, practiced new technique and had a lot of fun! We were all better skiers at the end of the day.

John Sargent, Eli, Doerte, Joe, and John. Karel and Mike are off somewhere.
 

 
How did Stampede Pass get it's name? -

The Northern Pacific Railroad finished a railroad across Stampede Pass (using switchbacks in the steepest sections, where the train actually had to reverse direction several times) on June 1, 1887. The Northern Pacific Railroad did not create Tacoma. In 1887, Tacoma was actually bigger than Seattle.  At that time, the transcontinental railroad was a big deal.  Cities bid to be the western terminus of the various lines, not unlike today's sports franchises.  Imagine the Tacoma city fathers' dismay when the Northern Pacific construction ended, not in the city, but further up Commencement Bay, within land grant section owned by the railroad.

A transcontinental railroad did not reach Seattle until six years later, in 1893.  The population of Seattle did not surpass Tacoma until the Klondike gold rush began in 1897, when Seattle became the jumping off point for miners headed north.

Legend has it that Stampede Pass got its name because in the early 1880's, while the railroad was being constructed, a new foreman arrived who promised to work everyone much harder and get the most out of them. The entire crew quit on the spot and stampeded back to Seattle!

Meany Hut History-

In 1927 the Mountaineers Club president, Edmond S. Meany donated 54 acres of land southwest of Martin to the club for a ski hut. Martin was the railroad station at the east end of the Northern Pacific tunnel near Stampede Pass and the area where the Hut was built was originally the site of Tunnel City, the construction camp during the building of the Stampede Pass Tunnel. The Stampede Pass location was chosen to permit ski tours along the cascade crest from Snoqualmie Pass to Mt. Rainier. Although somewhat lower than Snoqualmie Pass, the eastern Cascade slope usually affords drier snow and better skiing. Meany Ski Hut was dedicated in 1928. It has since been enlarged at least twice.

Ski Patrol Race by Lowell Skoog -

http://www.alpenglow.org/skiing/patrol-race-2004/index.html

Thanks to Lowell Skoog and Gregg Lobdell.

 


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