Skiing The Silver Star Glacier On Silver Star Mountain In Washington’s North Cascades
Location: Silver Star Glacier, Silver Star Mountain, North Cascades, Washington
Starting Point: Silver Star Creek On North Cascades Highway 20 (3400′)
Distance: 9 miles
Time: 6-10 hours
Top Elevation: Silver Star Mountain – 8876′
USGS Maps: Silver Star Mountain
Guidebook: Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Routes: Washington by Martin Volken
Mountain weather doesn’t always cooperate like you want it to. After getting shut down on Hood for a few days and then seeing that big storms were forecast for the Baker/Shuksan zone, we opted to head toward Mazama and enter the North Cascades from the East. Our goal was to ski Silver Star Glacier on Silver Star Mountain.
I learned about Silver Star Mountain in Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Routes: Washington by Martin Volken. The simple black and white image in that book makes it look like a really fun ski, so we figured it would be worth a mission to find out.
We cruised through Mazama in the late afternoon. Signs along the road indicated that North Cascades Highway 20 was closed. We were crossing our fingers that we could at least get to Silver Star Creek, the start to our adventure. Silver Star Creek lies just east of the winter closure gate and as long as conditions allow, you can access this zone all year. We cruised up the road to check the status and were in luck.
We decided to head back down to the Early Winter Campgrounds (2200′) for the night. With cell service to check weather and bathrooms, it was an ideal place to set up shop for the evening. Early in the morning, we woke up, ate breakfast, and headed up the road to Silver Star Creek. A large gravel pullout at 3400′ on the north side of the road made for plenty of parking and we quickly geared up for the day.
After crossing the road, we started skinning uphill through the thick Cascade forests. The route required weaving through old growth, dodging branches, and avoiding tree wells, but we eventually made it to a clearing around 4400′. Then we ventured west toward Silver Star Creek. With the abundant snowfall we were able to travel almost directly up or near the creek until the terrain flattened out.
Then we pushed across a flat expanse of forest until we broke out in a meadow where we could see the alpine and the Silver Star Glacier. We cruised across this and then made our way up and around toward Silver Star Glacier. We made slow and steady progress and soon had to boot pack up a steep corridor below the actually glacier at 7600′.
At the top of this bootpack, it flattened out and we made a zig zagging skin track all the way to the Silver Star Col at 8600′. The snow was pristine and in perfect condition. The col was massive and big enough to land a helicopter on. And the views looking out toward the North Cascades was unreal.
We made a quick attempt to scramble to the top of Silver Star Mountain at 8876′. We made it just shy of the summit and then down climbed to the col to go for a ski.
We skied one at a time and the snow was fantastic. We cruised down the glacier and through the lower chute.
At the bottom, fun playful terrain with nice corn snow allowed us to party ski through wide trees and forests back down to the flats. With one last look at the alpine terrain, we slowly slogged back across the flats and down the creek to 4400′. It’s best to steer clear of the creek from here down to the road.
When we hit the road, we wandered back to the van and dried out in the sun. Silver Star was definitely a fun ski. Our ski of Silver Star Glacier took 8 hours. We covered 9 miles and 5550′.
See our route for skiing Silver Star Glacier on Silver Star Mountain in Washington’s North Cascades:
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This trip report from skiing Silver Star Glacier on Silver Star Mountain in Washington’s North Cascades is from May 1, 2017.