Upper Royal Basin an Amphitheatre of Snow

Daniel Collins

Olympic Light

Olympic Light

I toted my tele-skis up the Dungie main fork than on up the Royal Creek valley about 5 more miles in late July. With the extra bulk of ski boots, poles, and skis on my shoulders I caught many attentive hikers with thoughtful and bemused comments – like “goin to ski the glacier?”, “is there snow up there?”, “can you ski up there?” etc.

That last comment cut into my pride a small notch, but I was glad to get the attention on an otherwise solitary hike. I felt that if these kinds of trips inspire others with thoughts of skiing, than great and I could see that wistful look in some.

I camped in the Upper Royal Basin below Mt Deception and just spent hours marveling at the incredible depth of the amphitheatre and all the basin ski runs at my disposal. Mt Deception dominates but the area is filled with rocky crags commanding attention. Feathery clouds shrouded many of the peaks but let glimpses of late afternoon light shine through giving definition to the high alpine architecture. While green grass campers were down below, I was able to hike the skis up consolidated snow fields toward Mt Mystery and nearby peaks.

Looking down to Upper Basin

Looking down to Upper Basin

The late afternoon ski was the best for snow condition. The following morning, I hit the slopes but found the snow too sun-cupped and hard to carve meaningful turns. Instead of carving graceful arcs, I was merely survival skiing but the challenge was a good confidence builder. Nothing competes with the awesome views and long skiing turns in the summer sun – very sweet indeed. My recommendation is ski this Basin in June or early July for best snow.

Daniel Collins

Regional Coordinator Olympic Region
Pacific Northwest Trail Association

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Pacific Northwest Trail Association

Pacific Northwest Trail Association

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