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North Twin - North Face

WA Cascades West Slopes North (Mt Baker)
Posted by galenweld on 4/5/23 12:48am

Last Thursday, Pieter and I had a grand day skiing North Twin. 

After an unpleasant 4:00 am wake up call, I drove north from Seattle and met Pieter on Mosquito Lake Road. We found that the Road 9000 gate was closed, as expected, and so parked the car and started walking up the road just past 7, with a gorgeous sunrise. We walked about 1.5 miles to 2,100 feet until the snow was consistent enough to stash boots and start skinning. It was easy skinning Dailey Prairie at 9:15, and we continued up the spur road on a nice skin track to its end at 4,100 feet at 10am. We followed the existing skin track through the woods and into the slide paths below the West Ridge until it was clear the skin track wasn't heading further east, so we ditched it and broke trail on wind and sun-affected crusty slopes above the obvious rocky prow at ~5,100 feet (the more conservative and probably more pleasant route would be to go below the prow). Nice to have ski crampons and a whippet here.

Once above the prow and on the North Face, the skinning conditions were great, with a small amount of wind crust, but not nearly as bad on the more westerly aspects. We made quick time switchbacking up the face, then crossed to the climber's right side of the rib coming down from north of the summit at about 6,300 feet. Skinned a few kick turns further, then booted the last steep 200 feet, which approached 50 degrees slope angle at the very top. We traversed back climbers' left below the ridge to gain the summit as we weren't sure how easy travel would be on the ridgetop proper, but it would have gone easily - next time we'll just climb straight to the ridge. We didn't need boot crampons which was nice because we didn't bring 'em. Hit the summit at 13:15 and scampered around enjoying stunnig views of South Twin. The couloir on the south side looked super cool, but also pretty comitting without scoping from below, and one would probably want some rap kit.

As clouds were coming in, we dropped off the summit just before 14:00 and had rode steep firm snow, which gave way to pretty good skiing with only a little bit of crust down lower. We took the fall line all the way to 4,200 feet just above Seymour Creek before heading back up for a second lap. As more weather was coming in, we ended our second lap ~600 feet below the summit while we still had decent visibility. Dropping in at 16:20, we had a great skiing and then shitfucked traversing back to the road and down to Dailey Prairie. We put skins on for the first 1/2 mile of flat road, then ripped skins and had fun cruising down the road until we ran out of snow. Retrieved boots, threw the skis on our packs, and walked back to the car at 18:15.

All in all, a great day out with lots of cool terrain - you could definitely spend a lot longer back there. The approach wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and the climb is quite straightforward, although in firmer conditions I could definitely imagine wanting an actual ice axe and crampons.

Breaking trail a few hundred feet below the summit


Booting the last 200 feet to the summit.


Pieter booting the last short bit to the summit.


Great views of South Twin!


Pieter dropping in just below the summit.


Nicer skiing lower on the face.


Thanks for the report; this place is hard to get to but it looks beautiful.

Fyi I was up there this week and the road has been plowed (for logging) from the bridge to a fork about 1 mile from the trail branch. From the dry road there's solid snowpack. Approach conditions are optimal especially for biking. Beware logging trucks midweek. 

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2023-04-05 07:48:38