Early season skiing generally means trying to find all the pow I’ve been missing over the past few months, and the pickings can be sparse. However, sometimes early season conditions permit excellent missions. The Twin Lakes Road area has some phenomenal skiing but is closed by snow most of the season, hence it is a popular destination for early season skiers around here. There’s a ton of good skiing around there, including several enticing peaks. One I’ve had my eye on for a while is the Pleiades, a group of pointy peaks just south of the Canadian border. I’ve been salivating over their couloirs ever since I first saw them several years ago.
Andrew, Jacob, and I left Bellingham early and parked our car on the side of the icy road a little after dawn. Knowing we had a big day ahead, we got to work and skinned up the road to the lakes. The weather was forecast to be overcast all day but with fairly good visibility. The chutes are south facing and fairly low elevation, making the right conditions difficult. A cloudy, cold day was ideal.
We reached the lakes and followed the faint summer trail to the lower slopes of Mt. Larabee. From there we had the first turns of the day, dropping down into the bowl below our objective. We set up a quick belayed ski cut to test the wind-loaded slope but only found stellar pow, which we proceeded to rip. After arriving at the base of the chute, it looked much less likely than it did from afar, with a steep rocky section blocking our view halfway up. We started the hardest part of the day; wallowing up the deep pow filling the chute.
After a few hours we made it to the top, and were greeted with incredible views of sunlit mountain ranges across the border. The temps were rising and we had a long journey ahead, so we quickly clicked in and began our descent.
Andrew and Jacob made a sweet video of the day as well, check it out:
Pleiades South Couloir from WHATS UP?! Collective on Vimeo.
Louie Dawson earned his Bachelor Degree in Industrial Design from Western Washington University in 2014. When he’s not skiing Mount Baker or somewhere equally as snowy, he’s thinking about new products to make ski mountaineering more fun and safe.