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| | |-+  January 2nd-3rd, 2013, Twin Sisters Ski Traverse
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Author Topic: January 2nd-3rd, 2013, Twin Sisters Ski Traverse  (Read 4577 times)
teleturns2
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January 2nd-3rd, 2013, Twin Sisters Ski Traverse
« on: 01/05/13, 04:18 PM »

On January 2 - 3 Jake, Dustin and I made a ski traverse of the Twin Sisters from north to south.  Skied from summits of both North and South Twin.  No GPS on board but by topo looks to be 35+ miles of travel with 12k of elevation gain.

Day 1:

We left Bellingham on January 2nd at about 5:15 in the morning and headed East on Hwy 542 and turned right on Mosquito Lake Road making our way toward Dailey Prairie. After a very few miles we were thwarted by active logging activity leaving us with about 6 miles of road to hike/skin on the approach to Dailey Prairie. We were dropped on the road at 6;15 and reluctantly shouldered our heavy packs and skis for two miles past heavy machinery wielding logs. After safely skirting this hazard (possibly the most dangerous of the trip) we found sufficient snow to skin up the remaining 3-4 miles to Dailey Prairie. This skinning was by no means easy and involved much hand to hand combat with the falling alders that have taken over the road. We finally reach Dailey Prairie and a clear view of the North Twin. From here we cut off the logging road and began working our way up onto the North Twin. We skinned around to the north face which proved to be steep but manageable until the last 500-700 feet where we resorted to primitive boot packing. We reached the summit of the North Twin by 1pm and took close to an hour debating our next move. The tentative plan back in town had been to work our way into a steep couloir on the south face of the North Twin. The top of the couloir was very boney and disappeared in a left dogleg. with diminishing daylight hours and much more ground to cover we opted to avoid a rappel into the unknown couloir and instead ski the first 800 - 1000 vertical feet of the north face of the North Twin and then cut right to a small gap on the east ridge to continue our descent to the east side of the South Twin. The skiing on the north face to the gap was excellent, changing quickly to variable wind crust as we dropped through the gap onto the east side of the ridge. Once on the east side of the gap we skinned up in a traversing line toward the NE face of the South Twin. We did not make it very far up the South Twin on skins and quickly switched to boot packing due to the steep angle of the slope and less than ideal snow. We boot packed straight up the left hand side of the face eventually wrapping around to the east ridge for the last couple hundred feet of climbing. For the most part, the climbing was steep (45 -50 degrees) with very good snow quality. We only used ice axes on the last little bit to get over a small wind cornice near the summit. We summited the South Twin at 4:30pm just in time to see the sun setting over San Juan Islands. We quickly clicked into our skis and used the last bit of light to scope a reasonable line through the rime ice on the south face. The south face proved to be somewhat challenging route finding due to cliff bands and variable wind and sun affected snow. The skiing was less then ideal but the scenery in the fading alpen glow light made up for it.
We reached the base of the South Twin at 5:15pm and made camp on a rolling bench near the base. We cut weight by leaving a tent behind so Dustin and I dug a snow cave while Jake started the endless task of melting snow. With the weather window, we spent a fairly comfortable if not smelly night in our little cave though the wind did kick up a bit more than forecast.

Day 2:

We awoke by 7am and began melting more snow and packing up for our final day. We left camp by 8am and continued our traverse. We climbed to the obvious col about 500M SSE of our camp and dropped into the next basin and continued to the next obvious col. This col appeared very steep and daunting at its base but proved to be the easiest ascent of the trip. This easier col proved to be our last steep climb. From here we traversed south along mellow benching terrain finding very good skiing through the gladed terrain. Our traverse continued on a steady contouring decent south to the valley. Once the contour ended and the skins went on we had a fairly mellow ascent up to a recent clear cut which provided us with a good view of the network of logging roads through to the valley floor. We skied the clear cut in excellent conditions and dropped to the first logging road. From here my beta is next to useless since I don't know exactly how we managed to efficiently navigate the rat maze of logging roads and tight second growth forest. From the first logging road we dropped a fairly straight fall line through tight forrest and eventually popped our at another logging road. Again we dropped fall line through the ever tightening forest and eventually made it to a small creek. The next two hours were lost to "adventure" skinning though the creek bed which we assumed would lead us to the main logging road in the valley floor. Not the case. Most of the small drainages in this area run SE and somewhat parallel the main logging road in the valley. My only advice for this section of the journey is to do some serious topo/Google Earth study before you embark. We finally reached the primary logging access road and were able to ski/skate 2- 3 miles of it before it cut to a south facing aspect and we lost our snow coverage. From here we began the most grueling part of our trip which was the 10-mile hike out various logging roads to our pick-up point on Hwy 20 in Lyman. There is a gate near the base of the primary logging access road that is sometimes open. If it is open the trip would be significantly shorter depending on how high the driver could make it up the road in the snow. We were not so lucky and ended up reaching said gate and ride at  6:30pm.

Overall an amazing trip and worthwhile if you have the energy. A mid-winter traverse demands lightening speed and a clear weather window.  The approach and exit are through grueling terrain but the high traverse is absolutely beautiful.  In Europe, this would be an epic hut-to-hut route. As with the two previous trips we sourced for beta on this traverse, spring would probably be the ideal time for the trip with the longer days for skiing, climbing and exploring. While we left the tent in favor of our snow cave skills, we did bring climbing gear for rappelling and anchors as well as ice tools and crampons. With excellent climbing snow, we did not have to use most of the gear, but depending on snow conditions crampons  and ski crampons could be essential.

Photos are on the way!

Photo 1 - South Face of N. Twin with obvious couloir that we intended to rap into and ski from summit but saved that adventure for next trip (this was climbed and skied by party that traversed Twin Sisters in April 2012)

Photo 2 - View of notch on N. Twin that gave us access to east face and traverse line toward S. Twin

Photo 3 - Route from Summit of S. Twin to a cold bivy near base

I will try to post another few photos tomorrow of Day 2 terrain south of S. Twin


* 421053_10200243075307438_558215645_n.jpg (124.93 KB, 535x800 - viewed 849 times.)

* coul_route.jpg (120.22 KB, 535x800 - viewed 844 times.)

* south_twin_ski_route.jpg (103.2 KB, 960x643 - viewed 818 times.)
« Last Edit: 01/08/13, 12:28 PM by teleturns2 » Logged
lrudholm
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Re: january 2nd-3rd, 2013, Twin Sisters Ski Traverse
« Reply #1 on: 01/05/13, 08:11 PM »

Sounds like it's becoming or already a bham classic.
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Leyland
Jake the Brit
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Posts: 362


Re: January 2nd-3rd, 2013, Twin Sisters Ski Traverse
« Reply #2 on: 01/06/13, 10:57 PM »

Resize the pics to 200K or less, and then you can add them, should be easy at that point.

Excellent tour, photo's would be great to see.
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powhound
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WWW
Re: January 2nd-3rd, 2013, Twin Sisters Ski Traverse
« Reply #3 on: 01/07/13, 07:53 AM »

Sounds like a good time. Id like to see the pics.
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Saign
Stefan
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Posts: 136


Re: January 2nd-3rd, 2013, Twin Sisters Ski Traverse
« Reply #4 on: 01/07/13, 10:00 AM »

wow.  that is a long way!  all in 2 days.

can you tell us exactly where this logging activity is taking place?
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Brian C
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Re: January 2nd-3rd, 2013, Twin Sisters Ski Traverse
« Reply #5 on: 01/07/13, 10:10 AM »

They've been working the access road for a couple years now. 2-3 years ago at the first road junction. More recently further down towards  the gate. I climb the N twin every year and the access looks practically unrecognizable every time. Between that and the mine its a shame what they're doing to that north slope to say the least.
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samthaman
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WWW
Re: January 2nd-3rd, 2013, Twin Sisters Ski Traverse
« Reply #6 on: 01/07/13, 03:37 PM »

Awesome guys! sounds like you had a great time, i'll be psyched to see the photos
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Vince Lamphier
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WWW
Re: January 2nd-3rd, 2013, Twin Sisters Ski Traverse
« Reply #7 on: 01/07/13, 05:42 PM »

Great tour! I am definitely fond of those mountains. I'd say they are the most photogenic mountains around with that orange red Olivine rock. Its to bad you couldn't stash a couple of bikes on the other side for a coast out. A GPS would also really help. Great pics!
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samthaman
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WWW
Re: January 2nd-3rd, 2013, Twin Sisters Ski Traverse
« Reply #8 on: 01/07/13, 07:35 PM »

wow south twin looks a bit sportier than when I was through there last spring. I bet after seeing that view of the s. face of N. twin you were pretty glad you didn't go for the chute on the south from the top.
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Lynden Don
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Re: January 2nd-3rd, 2013, Twin Sisters Ski Traverse
« Reply #9 on: 01/07/13, 11:53 PM »

What a great adventure, I' ve always been impressed with guys tackling this and the Hanging Glacier up on Shuksan.

Don
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If you're not falling down you're not skiing enough.
Forest McBrian
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Posts: 36


Re: January 2nd-3rd, 2013, Twin Sisters Ski Traverse
« Reply #10 on: 01/08/13, 02:35 PM »

Nice work Dustin and co! Strong work.
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