Terrain Photos – Eagle Ridge

I posted an aerial photo of Eagle Ridge on Dec. 29, but ER 1 & 2 at the eastern end weren’t visible. This shot, also taken May 10, 2007, shows the same area from a different angle. Even though ER 6 & 7 are hidden from view, you can still see both ends of the ridge – from ER 1 on the left to where Saddleback hits the very bottom of the Chunky’s cornice in Whitehorn I at far right.

Eagle Ridge (click for a larger version).

Eagle Ridge (click for a larger version).

When I started patrolling at the Lake in the mid-90’s, ER 3, 6, & 7, as well as Upper ER 5, were permanently closed avalanche areas. This was a remnant of the days when the parks service performed all avalanche operations for the ski area. Since then, the avalanche forecasters have done a great job of learning about and getting open the areas which had previously always been closed.

Upper ER 5 is the closest thing we have to a permanent closure on the back side of Eagle Ridge, and that’s because not only is it steep and rocky terrain, but it’s also huge, consisting of a large number of micro-features, all requiring their own analysis and plan of attack. Upper and Lower ER 5 are divided by a cliff band that crosses the entire slope, with a few narrow chokes that are slow to fill with snow and can be the one thing preventing the terrain from opening, since there must be skiable lines from top to bottom in order for it to open.

Lower ER 5 opens sooner, since it consists mainly of a fairly even scree slope, which is much smoother than the boulder fields that lie above the cliffs and requires less snow to fill in.  At far skier’s left of Lower ER 5 is M.G. Gully, a steep, narrow, tree-filled chute with a drop exit, and is a place that gets lots of snow. To get there you need to enter from the Saddleback/Split Rock area and traverse across the top of Kiddie’s Corner, and if you stay high enough you’ll end up right at the top of the gully.

Below is a shot of the top of Upper ER 5, for those hoping to scope out their lines for the Big Mountain Challenge taking place this spring (don’t forget, these photos were taken at the end of an exceptional snow year, and all areas of the mountain are currently much less filled in).

Upper ER 5

Upper ER 5


4 Comments on “Terrain Photos – Eagle Ridge”

  1. Matt says:

    These aerial photos are great, thanks for posting them. Do you take new photos every year or was this a special thing?

    • lakelouiselowdown says:


      These aerial shots were a one-time-thing – the helicopter was booked for that purpose. There are also times when helicopters are in use for other reasons, and it may be possible to ride along to get some photos, provided there’s room and that there are no loads being slung.


  2. Bill says:

    Hey Chris,
    I have a question on ER2 & 3. I see in the older Terrain Photos that you have included a ‘fenceline’ between Borderline and Mineshaft. I haven’t been there in a while and am wondering if this is a solid fence or merely a rope guide. And also, is it possible to cut from Borderline, across Mineshaft and towards Paradise Chair (under and around?) or does the slope force you down into Powder Pockets and through the scattered trees below Paradise Chair. It looks like it could be a fun, extended run back there.
    Thanks for your continuing awesome info on the Lowdown.


    • lakelouiselowdown says:

      Hi Bill,

      The fence line you mention in your comment marks the far skier’s right edge of the ER3 area, which is made up of a number of named runs, of which Mineshaft is one. On the skier’s right side of the fence is ER2, which includes Borderline and extends over to Crow Bowl. The fence is there to act as a boundary for ER3, which is an avalanche area subject to closure depending on the hazard.

      It is possible to ski the top portion of Borderline and still make it over to the bottom of Paradise Bowl and the top of Hell’s Kitchen, but it’s a long traverse, and it would shorten your run considerably. To get the most of Borderline, it’s a nice long fall line pitch down to the trees above Pika, which leads you back to the base of Paradise chair. This will take you to the skier’s right side of the Powder Pockets, but those are always an option, too.

      Another way to look at it is that it’s possible to traverse from the top of Ptarmigan chair to the top of the Powder Pockets, as long as you try hard to stay as high as possible. This may help determine where you have to start traversing if you want to make it over to Paradise Bowl.

      Hope I answered your questions!


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