March 07, 2010

Going Native at Scottish Lakes

Ava and I just got back from a three-day weekend up at Scottish Lakes.  Jason (my cousin) and his wife, Katie invited us to tag along with them and a large group who had been doing this same trip for years.  Prior to this I knew almost nothing about Scottish Lakes, except that it was a backcountry ski hut destination.  Turns out it's a unique little operation, tucked away on the east side of the Cascades, just north of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

We were told to sign up for a shuttle time on Friday for a ride in (rides are offered about every 2 hours).  I'd been on many hut trips before but was never offered a ride in.  At the appointed time and place on Friday morning, a beat up Suburban and 4-Runner came down the private road, loaded us and our gear up, and drove up the gated road to the end of where it was plowed (about 4 miles).  At that point, we unloaded the vehicles and reloaded all our stuff onto snowmobiles and their accompanying trailers.  We continued another 4ish miles up to "High Camp" at Scottish Lakes.

High Camp is located in a heavily wooded valley at about 5,000 feet and consists of several living huts, a commons lodge, a hot tub, a sauna, and three outhouses.  The entire complex is staffed by a few individuals, who take care of everything from heating the wood-fired hot tub to a perfect 102 degrees to grooming cross-country trails.  A variety of good ski terrain is easily accessible within minutes of the camp.  Further away and higher up, the terrain becomes even more spectacular and variable.

On our first day we toured around in the vicinity of camp, discovering which aspects and elevations provided good skiing in the sunny, 40+ degree temperatures.  The conditions we encountered closely resembled spring conditions - classic corn snow on southern aspects.

Scotsman Shredding at Scottish Lakes

Ava's Huge Air

Based on what we skied and what we saw from our highest vantage points, we planned our next day's adventure.


On our second day we aimed for Mt. Baldy, a peak we saw off in the distance the previous day.  It looked to have a large, open, southern aspect with lots of potential.  Six miles of skinning brought us to the base of Baldy.  Our first lap was everything we had hoped!

Early March Spring Corn on Baldy

On Top of Mt. Baldy

After our first lap on Baldy, we couldn't resist the more picturesque peak beyond baldy, so we hike up there for our second lap.

We were later told this is Mt. Thatcher, although we never saw it labeled on any maps.

The skiing wasn't quite as good on Thatcher, so we did another lap on Baldy for our third lap.  Running out of daylight, we skied over to the top of a couloir leading back towards High Camp for our fourth and final lap of a solid day out.

Halfway Through a Great Day Out!

As soon as we got back to camp, we went straight to the hot tub.  It was incredibly perfect and exactly what we needed.  Less than an hour later, the potluck dinner that all 32 of us had prepared for was underway.  I'm pretty sure I ate my weight in food, then had dessert.  Oh yeah, it wasn't easy, but we also managed to finish off the keg.

On the final day, we skinned up a short way before skiing 4+ miles down to the snowmobile/vehicle exchange.  If this trip sounds like any fun at all, I highly recommend finding your way to Scottish Lakes  Good luck getting a reservation, they start taking them exactly one year in advance.


Molly said...

you missed some sunscreen on your nose there... i'm glad you were wearing it though!

Ava Holliday said...

re: Ava's Huge Air

if by huge, you mean tiny/pathetic, then yes. (that's what she said)