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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 file.
Click here for GDB Garmin format file.

Waypoints:

  • Start of tour
  • Parking
  • 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.
  • Time: 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.

Logistics:

  • 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.

Trip Report

5/13/07 Skied the Twin Lakes Couloir, also referred to as the Zipper Chute w/ Russ S.

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 skiing it.

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 firm.


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

Related Links

TR and pics at http://www.lumenation.com/trip/zipper-chute
Turns all year commentary: report


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Last modified: 01/17/11