Skiing the Cascade Volcanoes
        Amar Andalkar's Ski Mountaineering and Climbing Site
Ski Mountaineering Photos & Trip Reports Equipment & Info Cascade Volcanoes Ring of Fire Site Map

Table of Contents | Introduction | Ratings | WebCams | Bibliography | Highest Volcanoes | Snowfall & Snowdepth | Monthly Chart | Conifers

Using this Guidebook: Symbols and Rating System

Sample Route Listing:
Route Ratings Starting
Quality Effort Ascent Descent
Northeast Face  
5600 ft
(1700 m)
5300 ft
(1400 m)
-600 ft
(-200 m)
10 miles
(16 km)
Brief description of the route...                    

The "Ratings" are explained in depth below, and most of the other categories should be self-explanatory. The "Elevation Gain/Loss"
column requires some clarification. For normal out-and-back trips, this shows the total cumulative gain and loss (with a minus sign),
for one-way during the ascent portion of the trip. Thus the total round trip gain would be the sum of the one-way gain and loss, or
5900 ft (1800 m) for the example above. The highest elevation reached would be 10300 ft (3100 m) in this case, i.e. the sum of the
starting elavation and total gain, minus the loss. For the few one-way traverses included in this guidebook, this system is modified
somewhat. The gain / loss then indicates the total cumulative gain / loss throughout the traverse. The endpoint elevation would then
be the sum of the starting elavation and total gain, minus the loss. The highpoint elevation can be found in the route description.

Ascent / Descent Ratings:

The routes in this guide are rated for difficulty using symbols familiar to downhill skiers and snowboarders. Descent ratings
roughly match those at ski areas, and ratings of ascent difficulty have also been given. All ratings are approximate, and any
route can vary greatly in difficulty depending on weather and snow conditions. Ratings for glacier routes are strongly dependent
on crevasse conditions, as open crevasses or thin snowbridges can make skiing (or hiking) quite hazardous. For peaks with
unskiable summit pinnacles, the ratings are given only for the skiable portion of the route up to the base of the summit pinnacle.


Easy terrain, slope less than 15 degrees.
No danger in case of a fall. Usually
minimal probability of avalanche hazard.

Easy hiking or skiing ascent, no technical
difficulty. Mountaineering equipment will
not be needed in most conditions.
Intermediate terrain, slopes of 15-25 degrees.
Short slides possible in case of a fall.
Increasing likelihood of avalanches.
More difficult hike or ski up, with steeper
snow slopes. Ice axe and crampons may be
needed depending on snow conditions.
Advanced terrain, slopes of 25-35 degrees.
Self-arrest skills needed in case of fall.
Perfect angle for prime avalanche terrain.
Technical terrain such as steep snow / ice or
glacier travel. Crampons and ice axe are
required, rope recommended for ascent.
Expert terrain, slopes of 35-45 degrees.
Perhaps dangerous exposure in a fall.
Avalanche hazard may be significant.
Technical snow / ice climbing or difficult
glacier travel. Crampons, two ice tools, rope,
and snow / ice protection required.
Extreme terrain, slopes over 45 degrees
Possibly with fatal exposure. Loose sluff
avalanches likely in most conditions.
Difficult technical snow / ice climbing, with
severe objective hazards. A high level of ice
climbing skill is a prerequisite for survival.

Combined ratings such as and have been used for routes in between the standard categories. The symbol is
a rating in betweenand . The rating listed in the Routes Table generally reflects the most difficult portion of the trip,
but almost every route in this book begins on gentler terrain and progresses to increasingly steeper slopes. All routes shown on the
topographic maps in this book are color-coded (green, blue, or black) depending on the difficulty of each section. By reviewing the
maps, one can in many cases ski the lower portions of an appealing route, even if it is listed in the table at a level beyond one's ability.
This can often make an excellent short trip, as long as one knows one's limits and turns back before getting in too deep, or too steep.

Quality / Effort Ratings:

Ratings have been given for the quality of each route and the amount of effort required to complete each trip. The quality rating is
obviously quite subjective and is based mainly on the quality of the skiing, including the skiable terrain, expected snowdepth and
snow quality, and typical length of the ski season. However, other factors which affect the overall quality of a trip, such as
exceptional scenery, ease of access, wilderness feel, unusual hazards, etc., have also been included in this rating. The effort rating
includes both the physical exertion and the degree of technical difficulty, and is judged relative to other climbs and ski trips on the
Cascade volcanoes. The listed starting elevations and effort ratings assume vehicle access all the way to the trailhead. Access to
some routes may be much longer in winter or spring when approach roads are still snow-covered. For some of these routes,
a separate listing in the table provides the effort ratings and distance in that case.
Effort / Strenuousness  

A classic. The best of the best.
Definitely a must-ski route.

Day trip with moderate elevation gain.
Easy for most skiers and boarders.
A great route, worthy of repeated trips.
Outstanding in the right conditions.
Full day with big elevation gain,
or a short overnight trip.
A fine ski trip in good conditions.
Several factors keep it out of the
upper ranks, though.
Overnight trip, with lots of mileage
and vertical. Perhaps doable in a long
day by a strong and fast party.
A mixed bag, with some negatives
such as long access or lots of up/down.
OK in good conditions or for variety.
Two-three days. Major vertical gain,
high elevation, or perhaps a long
approach from the trailhead.
Major negative factors (such as severe
objective hazards). Consider carefully
if the effort and risks are worthwhile.
Not many such routes are included.
Several days of hard labor. Huge vertical,
high elevation, or lots of up and down.
Better wait for the right conditions
to make it worthwhile.

In addition to the descriptive effort rating above, I have included a quantitative measure using the following formula:
|       Effort Factor  =  (Total Distance Hiked & Skied Up ÷ 2miles) + (Vertical Gain ÷ 1000ft), 
where the total distance hiked is typically the one-way distance to the summit (unless hiking is required to return to the trailhead)
and the vertical gain is the sum of the total cumulative gain and loss. Note that the calculated number is designed to provide a
rough estimation of the trip time in hours, but differences in party fitness and route conditions can extend or decrease the actual
time needed by a factor of two or more. In this book all of the values are rounded to the nearest half-hour, since the mileage and
gain numbers are not exact. It is also important to remember that the descriptive rating may be more useful than the quantitative
one, since it considers the difficulty of the route along with the distance and gain.

If any of the ratings for the routes in this guide seem incorrect, please contact me with suggestions or corrections.

Table of Contents | Introduction | Ratings | WebCams | Bibliography | Highest Volcanoes | Snowfall & Snowdepth | Monthly Chart | Conifers
Ski Mountaineering Photos & Trip Reports Equipment & Info Cascade Volcanoes Ring of Fire Site Map

Amar Andalkar   Seattle, WA, USA   <About the Author / Contact Me>
All material on this website is ©1997-2004 by Amar Andalkar unless otherwise noted.
Last modified Wednesday, January 15, 2003