Loving Life on Larrabee

By:  Sam
January 30, 2011

Finally, we could climb no higher. To the north, the Larrabee fell away down to the glacier that divides Larrabee from American Border Peak.

American Border Peak from the south.

Some days I waver and doubt myself; judgement, motivation, and skills are all called into question, undermining my ability to focus on the skiing at hand. Thankfully, the 27th was not one of those days. As Allen and I hiked under the base of the chute we intended to ski, we both looked at it and decided that if we could get to it, we could ski it. There was clearly an icy choke high in the gully, but based on the way the chute was protected from the wind and exposed to the strong southern sun, we figured that it would be soft enough to edge, or at the very least get our whippets into.

With these thoughts in mind, standing on the summit in a howling southwest wind, we stared down the slope towards our chute:

The view didn’t reveal anything particularly useful, especially about the critical choke section just below the roll-over. After some discussion, Allen and I decided that we were as ready as we would ever be: our skis had well tuned edges, we were feeling strong, and if it all went wrong, we could always switch back to crampons at the top of the chute, hike back to the summit, and retreat down the southwest face. Jason, Adam and Tom had reached us at this point and didn’t seem super keen on the chute that we were looking at. None of them had ice axes or crampons, so escaping an icy entrance would be a far more complicated affair than it would have been for Allen or I, they were more than happy to let us check it out for them though.

In an effort to maintain our psychological momentum, we tip-toed out onto the south face as soon as we were setup for downhill travel.

As Allen poked out onto the face in a stiff wind, we were greeted, not by the expected grating sound of edge on ice, but by the pleasant sounds of skis gliding lightly through soft snow.

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Read about the author:   Sam


  1. Chris
    wrote on January 30th, 2011 at 4:55 pm  

    Amazing shots Sam, nice work. Those mountains are unreal. Glad to see you guys are getting after what you moved out there for. Great trip report, thanks for sharing.

  2. Ben
    wrote on January 30th, 2011 at 8:51 pm  

    awesome stuff!!! that looks like a great adventure, exactly what I imagine ski mountaineering in WA to be! I can’t wait to get out there this spring some time!

  3. K_C
    wrote on January 31st, 2011 at 10:16 am  

    Nice story and photos! The skiing wasn’t bad either…

  4. Alex
    wrote on January 31st, 2011 at 1:00 pm  

    Spectacular! That is what they call a TR. Nice tribute to those who came before you, too.

  5. Anonymous
    wrote on January 31st, 2011 at 2:56 pm  

    awesome trip! thanks for sharing!

  6. christian
    wrote on January 31st, 2011 at 7:51 pm  

    woof! way to snag first tracks ahead of the pack :) nothin’ like an overnighter for sloppy 6ths in some of the most remote mountains in the country. :P
    seriously though, awesome TR.

  7. savantskis
    wrote on February 1st, 2011 at 1:50 pm  

    sweet…thanks for writing this great inspiration

  8. savantskis
    wrote on February 1st, 2011 at 1:51 pm  

    sweeeeeet…thanks for writing this great inspiration

  9. Nick
    wrote on February 1st, 2011 at 1:58 pm  

    Wow, what an awesome trip! Glad you got to ski your line!

  10. Eduardo Blanchard
    wrote on February 4th, 2011 at 6:16 pm  

    Hey guys, fun meeting you up there- cool vid and pics too! You did well to ski out when you did- when we left, maybe an hour later, the top of the gully below the hut had frozen solid!

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