McCue Ridge — Our Classic Half-Day Tour
February 5th, 2013 in Trips, Trails, & Tours
One of the most amazing half-day backcountry destinations available to High Camp skiers and snowshoers is the ruggedly beautiful terrain of upper McCue Ridge! At 6,000 feet in elevation and situated less than one mile away from the lodge “as the crow flies”, these high, open glades offer both dramatic views and fantastic slopes. On a clear day one can see far to the east, peering past the Columbia River basin all the way to what geologists call the Channeled Scablands. To the west, the nearby jagged Chiwaukum crest dominates the skyline. Immediately to the south, the mountainside plunges 1,800 vertical feet down to Chiwaukum Creek lying far below. Once the view has been appreciated the real fun begins for skilled telemakr and AT skiers and any snowshoer with solid dowhill technique. With frequent snowfalls the norm during the winter at this elevation, fresh powder is always a good possibility on McCue Ridge.
The trip to upper McCue Ridge is most commonly done as part of a counter-clockwise loop. The total distance of the loop is about 3 1/2 miles and normally takes about three hours to complete. To reach the crest of McCue Ridge where the slopes begin, follow our popular High Country trail for a little more than one mile to Ridgetop trail, which climbs about 750 vertical feet in a distance of about a mile. At the crest, the route down is marked by flagged bamboo poles. After a short relatively flat stretch, soon arrive at the beginning of the high, open terrain. For at least a half-mile, McCue Ridge drops dramatically through scattered trees. The best snow is often found just left of the fall line where it is more protected from the rays of the sun. At the bottom of the big slopes, the marked route continues to Sunset Meadow, where the backcountry traveler can either choose to head straight down to High Camp via Wild Bill Hill, or continue southeast on High Road, eventually returning to the cabins via either Staircase trail or Telemark Basin.