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Lost Marbles

WA Cascades West Slopes Central
Posted by lettmore5 on 4/21/23 10:14am

Logan and I discussed what to ski on Wednesday and mentioned the Hidden Lake area with the hope that Lost Marbles would be a decent option given that the last storm was unseasonably cold. I didn't mention skiing the line though because I was intimidated by it. Logan has a local friend who mentioned that the boulder blocking Cascade River Road was passable and people had been going up there. We decided to go for it and not sure what the big deal was, Logan could push the boulder off the road with minimal effort. 

On the drive, we decided to go check out the Sibley Creek drainage and at least look at Lost Marbles. All signs pointed to it being a great day to ski a couloir, the visibility was in and out and the light was very flat so skiing more open alpine slopes could have been challenging. We were able to park 2.75 miles before the summer trailhead, snow prevented us from going farther as well as several downed trees. We made it to the entrance of the couloir in 3hrs 15min, trail breaking and route finding are very straightforward to this point. I'm a couloir newbie (this was my 3rd) so Logan went first and made a few careful turns to where the couloir began to steepen. From there we took turns leading out and stopping occasionally in safe zones, conditions were awesome! The bottom of the couloir had old debris but it actually skied pretty well. We took a break and soaked in the amazing views of the NW side of Eldorado.

We were able to skin up the lower 2/3 of the couloir and within an hour were over halfway up. Unfortunately, it started to snow really hard and visibility went to zero. The walls began to sluff on us as we transitioned to booting and we got hit with a lot of dry loose. Not big enough to knock you over, but big enough to be pretty scary. We just moved as fast as we could to get out of the firing zone, which is not that fast considering the booting was pretty tough. A very stressful 20 minutes later we were only 100 or so feet from the top and could finally take a breath. Of course, NOW the sun was breaking through the clouds and the walls had stopped sluffing new snow. A good learning experience. We had considered overhead hazards in the form of snow/ice falling from the walls of the couloir but that seemed like a problem that would occur due to warming and it wasn't sunny, so the risk seemed low. It took us about 2 hours to get back up the entire couloir.

A few more transitions and we were back at the car. Very happy to get this one in such good condition, especially this late in the year! An awesome day out soaking in the North Cascades. Stats: 7k, 14ish miles; 8.5hrs. ~6 miles of road skinning/walking RT   

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2023-04-21 17:14:30