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Ski Twin Lakes Couloir, North ridge of Tinkham
GPS Data: Map, Track, Waypoints
Click here for GPX GPS eXchange format file.
Click here for TPO TOPO.EXE format
Click here for GDB Garmin format file.
- Start of tour
- Twin Lakes Trailhead
- Top of the chute
- Bottom of the chute
GPS Stats and other info:
- Milage: 7.35 miles includes photo op side trip, otherwise
it would have been about 5.5 miles.
3.5 hours from parking spot (Mill Creek
bridge across Cold Creek Road) to the top of the chute..
Round trip time w/o photo op would be about 5.5 hours.
- Elevation: The chute is 1650 feet from the top to the lake.
Not counting the photo-op side trip, the total elevation gain
for the trip is about 2200 feet.
- Take the Hyak exit form i-90 (exit 54) and drive the "main"
road through the Hyak developement, past the sewage treatment
pond, where it becomes FS road #9070. If you're lucky, the road
may be plowed for about a mile. We parked at the Mill Creek Bridge.
5/13/07 Skied the Twin Lakes Couloir, also referred to as the Zipper Chute w/
Like some before us, from Windy Pass above I-90, we had noticed
the cool looking chute splitting the top of the no-name mountain west of
Tinkham peak and Silver peak. Some refer to it as the north ridge of Tinkham.
Anyway, it called out to us several years
ago, finally last week we reconnoitered and today we committed to
We leave the car on FS road #9070 where the snow made it impassible - same spot
as last week - at the bridge crossing mill creek.
We start at 11:30 and skin up to the first hairpin (1.5 miles). The twin lakes trail that starts here doesn't seem
very passable so we decide to descend a bit and cross the river
and continue skinning up the other side. Not a particularly good idea as it turns out - crossing the river here.
The spring run-off is in full tilt so we end up getting our feet wet followed by
a mini adventure clawing our way up moss and devils club to
get out of the canyon on the opposite shore.
Devils club, vine maple, where the hell am I?
Once we gain the slopes above the river the going is much
easier. Note also, there's 3 inches of new snow up here today !
We gradually skin up and west across broad, steep slopes
bordered by cliffs above, finally crossing a tree line into the fan shaped
run-out area of the chute. We continue to skin up a short
ways till the chute narrows. From here we boot upwards, crossing
a melted out spot. This lower, narrow section opens up around
3900 feet. Last week during our recon, we weren't sure we were in the correct chute and
traversed right to broad (wrong) slopes under a cliff. This time
we continue booting into the narrow alleyway above us and
angling left. Here it steepens up a little and maintains the
angle for about 700 feet to its top at approx 4750.
Booting up the upper chute. Twin Lakes visible at the bottom.
From windy pass you can see that the chute splits the twin "cheeks"
of peak number 4905 on the topo. One web site has called this the "zipper chute"
but a better name might be the Poop Chute. Anyway, in honor of
today we called it the Mother's day Chute.
Booting up gave us the opportunity to see it in all it's glory...
maybe 30-40 feet across with a really consistent, nice 30+?
degree angle. The new 3 inches of snow had balled up everywhere
but in the above freezing weather, the surface was still nicely
The "cheeks", the upper chute and arrow shows the lower chute.
Seen from FS road #9070 near Windy Pass
Looking up the upper chute
At the top we find a sharp ridge. We lunch and take in the view. It is a pretty
gray, low clouds kind of day so the views aren't so good.
Tinkham is hardly identifiable, mostly in the clouds. There
are some good views of the lakes to the south - still
mostly snow covered are a no-name lake, Cottonwood lake and
in the distance Mirror lake. Also visible is a piece of Lost Lake.
Looking north from our perch you can see all the way down to
Twin Lakes. The chute is ramrod straight for 700 feet, bordered
on either side by impassable cliffs. It looks really cool.
I drop in first so Russ can take pictures and then stop after a few
turns to let him ski by to take more photos from below.
He cruises but for me on tele gear it's jump turn city all
the way down!
It is a great spot to ski and we have good spring
snow conditions, pretty
much all the way down to the lake. 1650 feet. The only
drawback being a lot of late season surface rocks and
branches. A brief de-ski at the melted out spot and soon
we're at the bottom by the lake. High fives!
Contemplating the entrance
At the east end of the lake we cross the established log bridge
and skin back up to the road. Given that we have the time, we
decide to skin uphill to see if we can find a spot to get a
good picture of the chute. Our photo op complete, we ski out.
NEXT TIME - an alternate route would avoid the random creek crossing and
follow the Twin Lakes trail directly to the lake and then cross the creek on the
log bridge and the east end. If you don't want to climb the couloir,
I've heard that you can reach the top by traversing around the
mountain but I don't know anything about that.
Twin Lakes Couloir seen from FS road #9070 near Windy Pass
TR and pics at
Turns all year commentary: