Lost Marbles Couloir Ski

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24 January 2007

I am illiterate. Just show me Lost Marbles Couloir photos.

There's a spectacular cirque in North Cascades National Park at the head of Marble Creek. It's had an enchantment on me for the last two years, since I got Hannahilated while accidentally climbing a new 2,000 ft alpine rock route on Early Morning Spire. Recently, I had the stupid idea to approach the cirque via Marble Creek - six miles of maritime mountain valley with no trail. My two poor victimfriends and I managed to go all of a mile in three hours before we surrendered, then sat by the creek in a shiver-bivy until dawn. Something about this place makes me lose my marbles.

Lost Marbles Couloir topo Topos don't lie.

After our night of cuddling in the woods, I knew I had to find a better way. I've been around Eldorado Peak and it's just too damn far. I spent several hours the next weekend staring at maps. Finally, I notice this crease in my topo. No wait, that's not a crease! I wonder what the hell it's like in there? This calls for investigation.

I found two suckers who wanted to "ski" yesterday, Eric and Pete, so we went on our merry way to Cascade River Road. Knowing how much road we'd need to ski, I urged Eric to go for it when the snow started to get deep. We made it another quarter mile before getting stuck. Perfect. Starting at 3 am, we had to ski two miles just to reach Sibley Creek Road.

Five more miles to 3,600 ft - the end of the road. Shortly after beginning the trail, it seemed like a good time to make some coffee while first light faded into being.

I knew my plans for the day were big, perhaps too big, so I went into overdrive to reach our high point before skiing the mystery access gash. The snow had a nice crust that made skinning very fast.

We were ecstatic at the high point, given the incredible views. Now, where the hell's that gash? That great gash leading to such beautiful cuntry. The topo says it should be dead ahead in the direction of Early Morning Spire. Let's go see.

Once there, the couloir was obvious. Its walls were huge. But we couldn't see over the roll where it takes a turn. Does it go? Let's have a look. I made several turns on killer crust - the good kind that we love to ski with climbing gear on our backs - and around the corner were a roll and a couloir that just went for days.

The whole damn couloir was filled with avy debris from Tuesday's rain, but I still loved it for its outrageous position and views. After skiing the couloir, all other objectives were cancelled due to shitty conditions. Honestly, we would have been reclimbing Lost Marbles Couloir after dark if we had tried any antics in the cirque. But there will be a next time.

My apologies to Eric and Pete, who skied the couloir with me in conditions that made it about as enjoyable as a trip to the dentist. I'd be happy to accompany you guys to a proper get-back ski of the big one on the Triad! Ross and I returned to the scene of the crime in early April and skied Lost Marbles Couloir in proper condition....

Hidden Lake Peaks skintrack sunset Sunset on our skin track and Hidden Lake Peaks

Lost Marbles, Found Powder Next time: Ross finds a treat while losing his marbles.

I'm flying! Ecstasy.

Neverending powder couloir The good times never end once you've lost your marbles.

The end is coming. Big cooley.

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Hopefully we can survive our ambition.