Winchester Lookout Trip: A Magical Return to Winter

Just got this trip report from our friend Kael Martin. I’m incredibly jealous of the snow he got to shred last weekend.

Heading deep into the Northern Cascade mountains provided an incredibly satisfying and refreshing start to the 2011/2012 snowboard season. Many uncertainties nearly hampered our trip plans, but in the end it all came together and we were thoroughly rewarded for our persistence.

We all gathered in Bellingham on Friday night and set out to the Winchester Lookout via the Twin Lakes Trail very early Saturday morning. Almost 4 miles out on the skin track were alarmed as we came upon a convoy of over 30 jacked up off-road vehicles struggling their way up, to who knows where, through the waist deep snow. Navigating past the impressive display of ‘truck life’ we got off the beaten track and into the hills.

Ryan Ziels crossing the X-Stream (left) and Kael Martin taking in the view (right)

The uncharacteristically crisp and clear November day made for perfect skinning conditions. We stopped and had some lunch at Twin Lakes and goofed around for a bit. Noticing a pair of skin tracks heading up in the direction of the lookout hut we joked about how there was probably a couple up there and they were going to be super bummed when eight smelly dudes popped in. Pressing on toward the hut we took the least exposed route and pointed out some very impressive lines to put on the tick list for later in the season and a deeper base.

Ryan Ziels and Travis England heading up the last stretch to the hut

Winchester Lookout – Room with a view. Mt Baker stands on the horizon

After the long journey, we arrived at the lookout and set up camp. We melted down some snow and took in the 360o views of dramatic peaks. From the lookout Baker, Larrabee, East and West Goat, Tomyhoi, Slesse, American and Canadian Border Peaks, and the Northern Pickets are all visible. With the sun setting around 4:30 we got our act together and went for an evening party run. It was awesome to shred down in the sunset and skin back up in the twilight. Then the light got epic.

Dustin Byrne gets stoic

Ryan Ziels with Larrabee in the backdrop

Kael Martin sunset shred

Skinning back up to the hut we were all pretty worked from the long day and were psyched for a delicious dinner. We made mashed potatoes and pesto tortellini and warmed up with camomile tea spiked with some whiskey. Perfect. Settling in to the hut we opened up the guest book and read many accounts of good times including a casual entry from Jason Hummel saying they had a pretty good day and skied Larrabee.

Lucas Debari making some tea in the cabin

We all just barely fit in the hut, packed like Tetris blocks but all enjoyed a good nights rest. The next morning we woke up at dawn and were greated with an incredible sunrise. The crew took a quick lap before breakfast. The snow was so good. After some more boarding, we packed up the hut and got ready to decend 5000 vertical feet of waist deep stable powder. Such an amazing thing.

Sunrise view from the hut – the terrain out there is impressive

Ryan Hyde gets barreled

Ryan Ziels says, “I love my new DIY Mountain Twin and Karakorams so much I’ll celebrate with a backside slasher!”

Riding back down toward the DOT station, we came across a few people who had gotten a bit excited about driving on the snow covered road and ended up stuck in the ditch. So after digging them out we got back to the cars. When we arrived back in Bellingham we enjoyed a Friendsgiving at the Debari residence and stories from the weekend. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending. I look forward to everything this season of adventuring will bring.

Lucas Debari, Kael Martin, Anthony Gervais, Ryan Ziels, Ryan Hyde, Travis England, Kyle McKillop and Dustin Byrne

An awesome trip with good company, go team blue 🙂

-Kael Martin