Forum Index > Trip Reports > Mt. Larrabee, American Border Peak 09/12-13/09
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Yana
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Joined: 03 Jun 2004
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Yana
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PostMon Sep 14, 2009 3:52 pm 
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EDITED TO ADD: I'm not sure why some of the photos are displayed sideways - they are correctly rotated in flickr.  huh.gif

These two peaks are located near the Canadian border north of Mt. Baker. Matt has been wanting to go up there for a while, so in August he, dicey, and fwb2 went for it. Unfortunately, that attempt was thwarted before it could begin due to a meeting between a pesky rock and the oil pan of fwb2's car.  shakehead.gif

This weekend, Matt and dicey returned for try #2 and I joined them. Unfortunately, fwb2 was not able to come.  frown.gif

The approach for these peaks begins at the Twin Lakes Trailhead, seven miles up a charming dirt road. All of it is rough and bumpy and the mile after the Yellow Aster Butte Trailhead features several entertaining dips that caused some worry. When we got to the lakes, I noted that there were very few low clearance vehicles there. It is certainly possible to take a normal car (I drive a Geo Prizm), but not the most advisable method. However, parking at the YAB trailhead adds 2.5 miles of road walking each way.  down.gif

Twin Lakes was a happening place already on Saturday morning, full of car campers enjoying this beautiful locale.

One of the Twin Lakes and an aesthetically pleasing tent
One of the Twin Lakes and an aesthetically pleasing tent

The first part of the trip is easy, short, and glorious - up to High Pass on excellent trail that offers great views.
setting out toward Larrabee
setting out toward Larrabee
Larrabee from the trail to High Pass
Larrabee from the trail to High Pass
Ruth Mountain from High Pass
Ruth Mountain from High Pass

We dropped our heavy overnight packs full of climbing gear at High Pass and scrambled up Larrabee, passing a group of four on the way up. Larrabee is not a particularly difficult summit by scrambling standards, but it is a chosspile of epic proportions. Bring a helmet and travel in a small group. There will be rockfall, no matter what you do.

Larrabee gully
Larrabee gully
Matt and Carla on the way up
Matt and Carla on the way up
The more pleasant portion of the ascent
The more pleasant portion of the ascent

What the ascent lacks in pleasantness, the summit makes up for with excellent views.
Matt and Carla on summit
Matt and Carla on summit
American Border Peak from summit
American Border Peak from summit
Summit views 2
Summit views 2
Summit Views
Summit Views
Layers
Layers
Lingering snow on Larrabee
Lingering snow on Larrabee

There were plenty of views to the south also, but the light conditions were not conducive to adequate photography.

After a brief summit stay, we returned to our packs, occasionally stopping to graze.

Matt gorges himself on blueberries on our descent from Larrabee
Matt gorges himself on blueberries on our descent from Larrabee

Now the more difficult part of the trip began - the hike into camp and our climb of American Border Peak. I will not bother describing the route as Paul Klenke has already done a masterful job of that on summitpost. Suffice it to say that the route to camp involves much traversing on talus and heather, with a steep forested rib thrown in for good measure, and some loose scree and talus ascent and descent on steep slopes. Very tedious and tiring, especially on a rather warm day like Saturday was.

Descending from High Pass
Descending from High Pass
Tomyhoi Peak and the beginning of the traverse
Tomyhoi Peak and the beginning of the traverse
Garrett Mine Trail and Tomyhoi Peak
Garrett Mine Trail and Tomyhoi Peak
Matt on the traverse
Matt on the traverse
The descent from the lovely notch
The descent from the lovely notch
Carla expresses her feelings about the descent to camp
Carla expresses her feelings about the descent to camp

Though it seemed endless, in fact the approach is only a few hours long and we found ourselves in camp with a couple of hours of daylight to spare. It was a weird place, windless and quiet, and quite warm. We lounged about waiting for dinner time.

Matt's bivy setup
Matt's bivy setup
Lazing around in camp
Lazing around in camp

There weren't really expansive views from camp (which is surrounded by higher mountains), but there was a good view toward sunset, and the evening light turned the already red talus an even more interesting shade.

Carla at our basin camp
Carla at our basin camp
Bits of American Border to avoid on ascent
Bits of American Border to avoid on ascent
Sunset
Sunset

Inconveniently, my camera batteries died at this point, so the rest of the photos I will be including came from dicey's camera.

After sunset, we saw an amazing sight - perhaps a meteor, perhaps another object burning up in the atmosphere. It was larger, slower, and much brighter than any meteor I've ever seen, and it seemed to have two separate parts. Maybe a satellite? It was very visible, despite the fact that it wasn't really dark yet and it was in the west - precisely where the sky was lightest. Whatever it was, it was glorious.  up.gif  up.gif

The stars were spectacular and the silence in camp during the night was only broken periodically by the sounds of falling rock.  paranoid.gif

Expecting a long day, we headed out of camp at 6:15. The route to the summit starts out steeply and remains so pretty much all the way to the top, with a few flatter areas for comfort. However, one of the belay stances was pretty comfortable!

I gotcha
I gotcha

The first 1200' of gain from camp involve gaining the ridge of American Border by way of gully crossings and steep talus and heather.

another Matt and cairn shot
another Matt and cairn shot

Then the real fun begins - alternately traversing steep terrain and going up gullies. American Border Peak is much like Larrabee in terms of rock quality, only with the added bonus of being a lot steeper.

Yana and Tomyhoi
Yana and Tomyhoi
crossing the red slabs
crossing the red slabs
Matt and Shuksan
Matt and Shuksan
yucky scree traverse to the gully of yuck
yucky scree traverse to the gully of yuck
Matt works the chimney
Matt works the chimney
while I belay
while I belay

The ascent was made more exciting by lingering snow from last weekend's storm. This was especially an issue up the last gully, where snow and moisture from snowmelt had turned into a steep wall of mud ineffectually gluing together some rocks. After some tense minutes, Matt was able to top out of this disaster of a gully and set up a handline for myself and dicey. Whew!

Once atop this gully onto the final summit ridge, the going is fairly easy to the summit block, where some interesting mantle moves are required.
Downclimbing them turned out to be still more entertaining.

working the reverse mantle move
working the reverse mantle move

As it had taken us a much longer time than anticipated to get to the summit, we did not linger to enjoy the views for very long.

red shirt club on top
red shirt club on top

We made several rappels on the descent, each of which had some exciting qualities. This one, for instance, through a tiny "keyhole":

see ya Matt!!
see ya Matt!!

This one, down a gully where the rope constantly dislodged a river of rocks:

yucky gully rappel
yucky gully rappel

The low point (for me) on the descent occurred in a spot where we had to scoot down on unpleasant, compact, wet scree on our butts.  down.gif

Despite these charming events, we made decent time back to camp, where evening was setting in. We quickly packed up and headed out, hoping to finish the more annoying parts of the traverse before darkness fell. Unfortunately, we weren't quite quick enough and hit the forested rib just as the last of the daylight faded. This area can be a navigational challenge even in daylight, as cliff bands lurk about in the trees, but in the dark it was even more difficult. Each of us had visions of spending the night tied to a tree in this forest, but luckily we eventually found a safe exit by losing a few hundred extra feet of elevation (which then had to be regained to get back to the trail, of course). Whew!

The rest of the way was easy, though we still had some off-trail plodding to do in the dark. Once back on the trail, we were amazed at how much easier travel was.  embarassedlaugh.gif

About a mile from the trailhead, I heard some rustling just off the trail - it turned out to be a porcupine which had climbed a small tree! Pretty cool and it helped break the monotony of hiking in the dark.

We arrived back at the car at 10:40, then I had the unfortunate task of driving the endless dirt road in the dark, followed by more pleasant but also seemingly endless roads back to Seattle, finally getting home at 3 a.m. Oops! embarassedlaugh.gif

Overall, I would say that American Border Peak and Mt. Larrabee share many things in common - both have lots of loose rock, and both offer excellent views. However, the former is much steeper and harder to approach, which might explain the fact that only about one to two parties per year climb it (if the summit register is anything to go by).

For those of you that want to enjoy the views without all that work and loose rock, take heart! Winchester Mountain, a short, easy hike on good trail from Twin Lakes offers many similar views, which begs the question: why, WHY, WHY climb those other things? If someone has the answer to that question, please let me know right away.  dizzy.gif

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PLAY SAFE! SKI ONLY IN CLOCKWISE DIRECTION! LET'S ALL HAVE FUN TOGETHER!
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joker
seeker



Joined: 12 Aug 2006
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joker
seeker
PostMon Sep 14, 2009 4:06 pm 
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Thanks for confirming my quick take from back when I took a walk up to High Pass and asked myself "is that climb as nasty as it looks?" And my take that making it further out to the Border Peaks was even crazier. Thanks for helping me feel even better about my feeling of contentedness at having merely summited Winchester in addition to the side-trip to High Pass  smile.gif .

They sure are pretty peaks to look at during sunset from a nice perch over by Yellow Aster Butte, anyhow.
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Jason Hummel
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Jason Hummel
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PostMon Sep 14, 2009 4:07 pm 
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Thanks for the report! The Pleiades are so cool looking from that area.

BTW, you need to try Larrabee in the winter/early spring.

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Photography: Alpine State Of Mind! | Trip Reports: Cascade Crusades! | FACEBOOK
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Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 1706 | TRs
Location: Welcome Pass
Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver
PostMon Sep 14, 2009 4:12 pm 
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Yana wrote:
which begs the question: why, WHY, WHY climb those other things? If someone has the answer to that question, please let me know right away.

Answer:  Because they're there, silly!

Lovely pics.  (Excuse me while I manually twist my head/neck back to an upright position!)   winksmile.gif  lol.gif   s.d.

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Four-paw buddy lets me tag along!
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BigSteve
mere tourist



Joined: 06 Mar 2007
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BigSteve
mere tourist
PostMon Sep 14, 2009 4:17 pm 
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Nice work, great TR.   up.gif

But my neck is stiff from looking at those damn sideways pics.  biggrin.gif
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GeoTom
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GeoTom
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PostMon Sep 14, 2009 4:18 pm 
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Looks steep. Sometimes really steep.  hockeygrin.gif

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iron
getting old



Joined: 10 Aug 2008
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iron
getting old
PostMon Sep 14, 2009 4:37 pm 
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Yana wrote:

After sunset, we saw an amazing sight - perhaps a meteor, perhaps another object burning up in the atmosphere. It was larger, slower, and much brighter than any meteor I've ever seen, and it seemed to have two separate parts. Maybe a satellite? It was very visible, despite the fact that it wasn't really dark yet and it was in the west - precisely where the sky was lightest. Whatever it was, it was glorious.  up.gif  up.gif

hotpantz and i saw the same one from our campsite near visit ridge (TR coming).

congrats on the peaks! AB looks so awesome from high pass and larabee's rich red color is inviting.

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man, you go through life, you try to be nice to people, you struggle to resist the urge to punch 'em in the face, and for what?

--- moe sizlack
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wamtngal
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wamtngal
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PostMon Sep 14, 2009 7:01 pm 
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Yana wrote:


After sunset, we saw an amazing sight - perhaps a meteor, perhaps another object burning up in the atmosphere. It was larger, slower, and much brighter than any meteor I've ever seen, and it seemed to have two separate parts. Maybe a satellite? It was very visible, despite the fact that it wasn't really dark yet and it was in the west - precisely where the sky was lightest. Whatever it was, it was glorious.  up.gif  up.gif


Perhaps it was more astronaut urinelol.gif
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Tom_Sjolseth
Born Yesterday



Joined: 30 May 2007
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Tom_Sjolseth
Born Yesterday
PostMon Sep 14, 2009 7:11 pm 
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Nice looking trip, people!  Thanks for a great report about two peaks on my imminent list.
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the Zachster
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the Zachster
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PostMon Sep 14, 2009 8:52 pm 
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Nice report! Whenever I'm in that area I look at those peaks and wonder who could enjoy that steep loose (and apparently sometimes wet!) stuff. Now I now! embarassedlaugh.gif
We were over at Yellow Aster Butte for the weekend (did you see us wave.gif )

We shared the same lovely sunset...

And we saw the meteor thing too...AMAZING!!!

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"May I always be the kind of person my dog thinks I am"
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Tazz
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Tazz
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PostMon Sep 14, 2009 9:10 pm 
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wamtngal wrote:
Yana wrote:


After sunset, we saw an amazing sight - perhaps a meteor, perhaps another object burning up in the atmosphere. It was larger, slower, and much brighter than any meteor I've ever seen, and it seemed to have two separate parts. Maybe a satellite? It was very visible, despite the fact that it wasn't really dark yet and it was in the west - precisely where the sky was lightest. Whatever it was, it was glorious.  up.gif  up.gif


Perhaps it was more astronaut urinelol.gif


OMG!!!  I saw the same thing!!  Will and Chris were too slow to see it but i saw exactly what you did!!  I swear!!
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EastKing
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Joined: 28 Mar 2007
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EastKing
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PostMon Sep 14, 2009 9:41 pm 
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Great TR and photos!!  up.gif  up.gif  up.gif  up.gif Mountains I hope to be trained enough to do in the next year or two.

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I am addicted to summits! I can't eat, drink or breath without them. Life without mountains would really suck.

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fwb
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fwb
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PostMon Sep 14, 2009 10:38 pm 
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Great TR. Glad everyone made it.  I'm still bummed I couldn't go (and bummed as well... just got the bill from last time -ouch).  My mind says I gotta' go, but the docs are keeping a close eye... I'm getting tired of baring a cheek...
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Randy
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PostTue Sep 15, 2009 8:24 am 
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Nicely written TR, Yana.  up.gif One for the list.
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pimaCanyon
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pimaCanyon
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PostTue Sep 15, 2009 8:56 am 
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Yana, you, Carla, and Matt sure know how to have a good time!

Great TR, Yana, as always.  Informative but also very funny in places.  The one that had me laughing out loud though was when I clicked on the picture with the caption "Carla expresses her feelings about the descent to camp".

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It's never too late to have a happy childhood
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