North Twin Sister (w/ ski descent) - Date:
My friend Kev and I climbed and skied the North Twin on Tuesday. Kev had been skiing the Baker backcountry on Monday and he called me in the evening to demand I take the next day off to climb, so I did. Here's the Sisters from the car (MB Hwy) while driving to the climb.
The gate was open, but we opted to park anyway, partly due to the fact that we were driving a Geo Metro.
After a long, slow, long, slow approach up the logging road through the trees we were finally able to catch a glimpse of the mountain. And yes, the road is taking us AWAY from it. Kev is showing off the dryness of the snow here to demonstrate what Cascade Cement can look like for two or three days each winter.
Still, skinning up the road was kind of peaceful and even purty, especially when you go through an area they forgot to clearcut.
Here's some hoarfrost in the road, which Kev explained is basically snow sweat.
In this photo you can see our route. I'm not sure what it's called (north bowl to northeast bowl?), but at any rate it was pretty obvious.
We saw this ptarmigan at the flat spot where people often leave their bikes for the west ridge scramble (3700' ?). That feathery feet thing is a good trick.
Finally out of the trees, we headed under the north face and banked left and around the buttress coming down from the summit. The snow was a bit crusty in here but we saw no sign of avalanches or rockfall anywhere on the mountain.
Due to the angle and crusty top layer of snow we decided to kick steps for the final 1200'. Kev was the champion all the way up. The final 250' took awhile because it was too steep and soft under the crust to kick steps very well. We were basically wading up a knee-deep trough to the summit ridge.
We were in the sun right at the summit ridge line. A short scramble took us to the summit...
with clear views in all directions. The San Juans to the west...
South Twin, Glacier Peak, and the infinite North Cascades to the south...
and of course Baker dominating the skyline. We looked for skiers or tracks coming off the summit but didn't see anything. It was very mild on top. No wind.
After taking a short break on top we realized that we were tired of looking at all these stupid snowy peaks, and we were tired of Nature in general. All we really wanted was to get the hell down off the mountain and back to civilization as soon as possible so we could enjoy fast food, watch reruns of Friends, and listen to the endless drivel of the political pundits. So we locked in and skied off the steep snow below the summit ridge.
Here's Kev sidehilling down from the top. Once below the rocks it was considerably easier, and being a shitty skier I don't mind considerably easier skiing.
Kev kicking up some chunks in the sunset glow...
We got some good turns below the north face while the sun hit the upper mountain.
Watched the sun set over the Olympics
One final look at the mountain before crashing through the alder of FSR 9100 (a trail in the summer) brought us back to the main logging road, where we were able to ski for 10 or 15 minutes before we had to break out the headlamps. We had a fun, fast 5 mile ski down the road to the car in the dark, taking care not to impale ourselves on the few trees that had fallen across the road.
Thanks for reading.Gear Notes:
Skis. Wear them on your feet to make travel safe and enjoyable. Axe/crampons not needed this time around.Approach Notes:
Gate open; 4x4 would make travel of another mile or two possible, but then you don't get to ski it. A couple of trees down across the road. The FSR 9100 sign is above the snow yet (this is the junction where you leave the main logging road to get to the base of the climb).