March 1, 2020, Lost Marbles Couloir

2/29/20
WA Cascades NW (Mt Baker)
1598
15
Posted by timgibson11 on 3/4/20 12:44am

On Sunday Fred Newman, Jeff Wong, Sean Rogerson and I skied Lost Marbles Couloir (Hidden Lake area). We were wondering if anyone else has skied this line since it was pioneered by Sky Sjue & friends back in 2007. The fact that you have to find the couloir from above, ski it "blind", and then ascend back up it to exit will keep most people away. For those willing to put in the work this is an amazing route on one of the biggest couloirs in the Cascades, with a very scenic backdrop courtesy of the Marble Creek Cirque and the West Face of Eldorado.

We drove to 2200' on Sibley Creek Rd, making the approach reasonable. The day started out clear and cold, with 6" of dry snow on top of last week's crust, but high clouds and valley fog were closing in by late morning. We followed the standard Sibley Pass route up to about 4800' and then deviated NE up a steep slope to reach a different pass at 5800'. From there we continued NE and traversed an alpine basin until we were standing at the top of a 2300' elevator ride straight down to the valley below - the Lost Marbles Couloir. While ripping skins we were treated to a break in the clouds just long enough to appreciate the spectacular setting, with Dorado Needle, Eldorado and the Triad all making an appearance.

The couloir itself started out steep and constricted, perhaps a tad over 50 ° in spots, and with a couple of small kinks that prevented us from seeing the valley floor. Careful sluff management was necessary in order to link turns through this section.   After the first thousand feet the couloir widened, the slope angle backed off, and we could finally see the bottom. It was time to open it up and make big GS turns until our legs couldn't take any more. Along the way we passed big rock walls, icefalls, and occasional spindrift from steep slopes above. At 3100' we reached the valley floor and had lunch while mentally preparing for what lay ahead.

We were able to skin 2/3 of the way back up the couloir, but the remaining third was brutal. We used every trick in the book to ascend through a winter's worth of unconsolidated snow. It was mostly waist-deep wallowing, with small sections of knee-deep booting that put smiles on our faces and restored hope. We topped out in whiteout conditions which persisted all the way down to Sibley Creek - we skied this section cautiously and were happy to have our skin track to use as a navigation aide. The final descent through the forest to Sibley Creek Rd went faster and more painless than I remember from previous trips to Hidden Lake.

Not all 7000' days are created equal, and this will go down as one of the burlier and more memorable. Trip stats: approximately 17 miles, 6900' vertical and 10 hours C2C.

Full set of photos/video available at https://www.facebook.com/groups/turnsallyear/permalink/10158049700089699/

Nice working with you guys on this one. It was a hell of a day and a great objective! I think we all agreed that it was the hardest we have ever worked without going for a summit.
2020-03-05 21:48:09
geosean
Nice work!! (rock on emoji)
2020-03-09 09:25:22
Alisse
Nice!!!

author=timgibson11 link=topic=42726.msg167001#msg167001 date=1583340284]
On Sunday Fred Newman, Jeff Wong, Sean Rogerson and I skied Lost Marbles Couloir (Hidden Lake area). We were wondering if anyone else has skied this line since it was pioneered by Sky Sjue & friends back in 2007. The fact that you have to find the couloir from above, ski it “blind”, and then ascend back up it to exit will keep most people away. For those willing to put in the work this is an amazing route on one of the biggest couloirs in the Cascades, with a very scenic backdrop courtesy of the Marble Creek Cirque and the West Face of Eldorado.


Would guess it's been skied since because it's in a guidebook (by the author of that tour?) but probably not done too often! I think it's the exit route of the Kumquat too.

Marble Creek is so rad, must get in there some time.
2020-03-09 19:02:17
kamtron
Any other pics of the W face of Eldo and the rest of the basin?
2020-03-09 21:46:59
kamtron
Hey, this is cool! It's nice to see that get skied; it's a very memorable couloir.

The times I actually skied the route on the Triad, we used the col between Eldorado and the Triad to exit Marble Creek Cirque.

Kamtron, your post really confuses me. Can you point me toward a reference? 
2020-03-10 06:35:23
skykilo
author=skykilo link=topic=42726.msg167012#msg167012 date=1583366194]
Hey, this is cool! It's nice to see that get skied; it's a very memorable couloir.

The times I actually skied the route on the Triad, we used the col between Eldorado and the Triad to exit Marble Creek Cirque.

Kamtron, your post really confuses me. Can you point me toward a reference? 


Hi Sky, I guess I'm mistaken! Was thinking people exited via the Lost Marbles but I guess I misremember. It is in the Volken/PGS guidebook, however! Tour written by Ben Haskell. Did Dave and Eric also go out that way when they skied it in pow?
2020-03-10 06:39:04
kamtron
This is RAD. nice work team, and thanks for the good content
2020-03-10 08:47:36
Rowan Stewart
A second thanks for posting! It's a fun trip into memories.

K, upon review of Volken's book, the couloir is shown on a topo and a photo, but only mentioned as a brief aside in the Hidden Lake Peaks section.
2020-03-10 10:52:13
skykilo
Hey Sky, it's great to hear from you. Since the Hidden Lake entry in the Volken guidebook mentions the existence of Lost Marbles but does not provide any detail, I would assume that the author did not ski it.
2020-03-10 15:56:19
timgibson11
Solid work and beautiful photos

Helluva first post!
2020-03-10 19:00:05
river59
https://photos.app.goo.gl/CfxqmSMaMk9bUKq1A

People do ski it! I skied the marbles twice last year as a consolation prize while turning back on the cumshot. Did manage to ski the cumshot once. Fred this was the weekends before and after meeting you on Whitehorse! I did decide to exit via marble creek once . That was bushy. Sky you'll recognize these views from in the cumshot.
2020-03-10 19:08:20
Mskis
Wow, those look like some fun conditions!
2020-03-11 08:36:31
skykilo
author=skykilo link=topic=42726.msg167012#msg167012 date=1583366194]
Hey, this is cool! It's nice to see that get skied; it's a very memorable couloir.

The times I actually skied the route on the Triad, we used the col between Eldorado and the Triad to exit Marble Creek Cirque.

Kamtron, your post really confuses me. Can you point me toward a reference? 


Thank you Sky for the vision in finding such a rowdy line!! Much Appreciated!! ;D
2020-03-11 09:59:00
jeff.bond.wong
nice work folks, glad you found it in good nick!

Kam, i was with Sky on the first descent, which i recall started some dumb Jan evening on Cascade River Rd well short of the Sibley turn-off -- ugh. (Also accompanied him on a previous attempt.) Have since climbed Lost Marbles two more times. Once after skiing the Kumquat with Dave (to your question), and then a year or two later skied most of Triad's W face to the lower Kumquat, finishing w/ the Lost M booter.  Lots of fantastic lines in those parts.

agree with this party, as a climb after a long day, demanding to be sure!
2020-03-11 17:49:45
hedonaut
Beauty! And in good conditions no less
2020-03-11 18:23:17
ryanl

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2020-03-04 08:44:44