Twin Sisters Traverse

By:  Sam
April 9, 2012

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The last forecast we saw had called for increasing clouds, possible small storms, and rising temperatures, so when we saw these clouds we started to wonder if it was time to run to the valley. With just one more ridge to cross before skiing out of the alpine and completing our intended route though, we decided to continue as planned.

Gloppy inconsistent snow necessitated a downhill skins-on traverse in order to efficiently reach the next ridge.

This valley looks benign, but there was actually a rather large cliff band just below Travis that could have caused us some trouble with only a little less snow.

Spot the cliffed-out skier.

We did it! We traversed the Sisters… only now we had to pay the piper and somehow get out of the southern end of the Twins. We soon found the answer to our question: “why haven’t more people done this trip?”

Several miles of downhill skiing and skinning through the forest brought us to the South Fork of the Nooksack River, the first branch of which we crossed with relative ease.

…and the second branch of which we impatiently waded through with our ski boots on. I’d expected less snow than we eventually found on the way out, so at the time it seemed preferable to have damp ski boots rather than damp hiking shoes.

One last view.

After the last glimpses of the twins, we put our heads down and ground out the blister-inducing 6 miles and 1000 feet to the top of Wanlick pass. Due to some miracle of road grading, ski wax, and air temperature, we were, with a minimum amount of skating, poling, and side stepping, able to ski the next 5 miles of road all the way to Allen’s car where three ice cold IPA’s awaited.

Ultimately, this traverse could hardly have gone better. The gear, the route, the weather, and the snow all made a traverse through this rugged, beautiful, and surprisingly remote sub-range as simple as we could have dared hope for. Thanks to Allen and his girlfriend Leah for stashing Allen’s car at the end of our traverse and thus making our point-to-point route possible. Thanks to Travis for being flexible and committing to this trip with a days notice and then pulling his weight the entire way through while managing to tolerate Allen and I for two whole days with a smile on his face.

If anyone comes across this trip report and wants to repeat this route, I’d be happy to provide as much information as I can. With the exception of the frustratingly long exit, I think this route has the potential to be a local classic, and it would be great to see more Bellingham skiers enjoying their local mountains.

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Read about the author:   Sam
Enjoy this TR? Read another: TR: Skiing Between The Lines


  1. Adrian
    wrote on April 10th, 2012 at 1:27 am  

    Wow, looks like a great ski. Sure is some beautiful country around those parts.

  2. Skidmarks
    wrote on April 10th, 2012 at 7:24 am  

    At first glance I thought you were talking about Twin Mountain NH!!
    Great report guys.

  3. bushman
    wrote on April 10th, 2012 at 8:37 am  

    Damn! I’m out of breath just reading the notes below each frame; what a workout. inspires mere mortals to climb for snow next week. nice report guys.

  4. jake L.
    wrote on April 10th, 2012 at 8:53 am  

    A great adventure with great company, that’s what it’s all about! Splendid write up Sam, looking forward to the next instalment.

  5. Ullr
    wrote on April 10th, 2012 at 6:53 pm  


  6. christian
    wrote on April 10th, 2012 at 7:21 pm  

    SICK TRIP! how much vert did that work out to roughly?
    got yourself a houdini i see. one of my favorites, ever.

  7. Sam
    wrote on April 10th, 2012 at 10:40 pm  

    It was 11100ft of gain over 30 miles. Yeah, the houdini is awesome, I bought it for trail running (I’ve been running a ton recently), but I’ve really grown to like it for skiing as well. I didn’t even bring a shell on this trip.

  8. powhounddd
    wrote on April 11th, 2012 at 8:59 pm  

    Great TR, glad it worked out! The mountains there are really something, real nice pics. Oh and, just for fun: “We pushed off, praying to press past a pair of potentially problematic passes prior to parking our parkas.” would have been 2x Extra points for abusive alliteration ;)

    • bushman
      wrote on April 11th, 2012 at 9:31 pm  

      avoid alliteration. always

  9. Peter
    wrote on April 12th, 2012 at 10:49 pm  

    f.f.s this is awesome, thanks guys. So beautiful, I want to be in those mountains so badly!

    • Sam
      wrote on April 13th, 2012 at 3:10 am  

      6 hour flight + 6 miles of hiking gets you to snow! glad you liked the photos

  10. Roger Strong
    wrote on April 16th, 2012 at 1:42 am  

    Absolutely stunning traverse and thanks for sharing Sam and Allen…great getting to hang with you both in the desert this weekend!

  11. savant
    wrote on April 16th, 2012 at 11:48 am  

    Thanks for the time and effort put into writing this TR. As the Boston marathon trickles by with 80 -85 temps for the day this was a nice diversion

  12. ml242
    wrote on April 16th, 2012 at 5:45 pm  

    Must have been hard to leave so much great skiing hanging there to make it across the traverse. Looking forward to the next installation.

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