The Approach & the Ascent
It was 6pm and my hands felt shredded, almost like spending an entire week climbing hard boulder problems in Bishop, CA, only I've never been there, but I've seen the ruin that coarse rock like that can leave on your hands. We started the day early and headed up to Bellingham and made our way towards the Forest Roads that would take us towards the North Twin Sister. I had been there before, but did not pay much attention to directions, and we had to turn around last year due to some snow on the route and we were not prepared. We left the car and got on our bikes and made our way up the steep roads. The first spur forks to your right after 5 minutes of walking, and you continue you up to the left on the main road. We finally reached the final switchback and saw a cairn, but someone had said that you travel a bit further to an open logging area, and we had only traveled 50 feet or so and found ourselves at a dead end of timber and wreckage. I finally saw some snowshoe tracks on the ridgeline so we knew we were on target and set off for some fun postholing. We finally got on the ridge in the trees and were on a somewhat established trail and followed it all the way to the snow on the ridge and to the lower part of the route. From there it's pretty simple, there's so many way trails that go here and there, but the best advice is to try and stay on the ridge as much as possible at all times.
There are many false summits on the route, so be prepared for many dissappointments. There are a few spots after going past the obelisk that some say are 5th class climbing. Some folks rope up here, and there are different ways to get passed the more difficult climbing, but if you feel secure with your skills, and don't mind a little exposure then it is quite enjoyable. All I remember is one spot that gets you to a saddle before the last false summit and you straddle a rock like "Ride em Cowboy" at Vantage. The exposure is there, and it is a 5th class move, then after that you can mantle yourself up onto the block that is at the saddle. From here on you stay high on the ridge and keep traversing. The last false summit is reached and the slog to the true summit is on snow in the early season. Once at the summit there are some incredible views of Baker and the North Cascades. South Twin Sister is in your face, and the northeast side of the mountain sports a beautiful glacier.
We stayed on top for a short time since it was getting late. Heading down the North Face was out of the question since Jessica "Alpine Chica" was not comfortable with that steep of a slope. There have been many accidents here where climbers can't self arrest and fall off cliffs or as one climber did, impaled himself with his ice axe and died later. So we decided to downclimb the West Ridge. We only rapped off one spot near the saddle, and I cleaned it and downclimbed because I do not like leaving booty behind. It was a long and arduous task to downclimb the ridge, and I got us off route a few times, making us traverse some scary 5th class rock at times. Once we were back on the safe ridgeline it was a cakewalk, and then back on snow and then the trail, and than at the bikes!
I'd like to say it was a safe ride down, but one of those "whopp dee doos" took me by surprise and I wound up doing an endo and a faceplant. Even though we had helmets, Ryan and I did not think of wearing them for the ride down for some reason. The ride down was fast and took less than 25 minutes or so, but when we got back down we found Ryan's new truck broken into with both side windows bashed in with separate boulders and all of our stuff, cellphones, keys, etc. The hood was found open as well, and the truck would not start..........it was dark now, no cellphones..........in the middle of nowhere.
We were able to find some of the fuses on the ground under the truck by crawling around with headlamps, and got the truck to start, but we were running on only a partial system so we had no stereo, no interior lights, no speedometer, etc etc. The tribal police were worthless as they said they needed a suspect for us to file a report? So I lost my favorite hat, pants, base layer, chacos, etc as did Ryan and Jessica. Beware of this area when parking for an extended amount of time.
From I-5 take the Mount Baker Highway #542. Stay on this for a while, driving past the towns of Deming and Nugents Corner. A little after passing the junction for Highway 9, keep an eye out for Mosquito Lake Road.
Turn right onto Mosquito Lake Road and follow it for a little ways, keeping an eye out for a gravel pit, on your left. Turn Left onto the road at the gravel pit labeled FR #38. In 3.6 miles you will come to a fork where you need to go right, and in another .6 miles you will come to another fork where you go right and start going downhill. In another .4 miles you will be at the Yellow gated bridge which is the trailhead (Middle Fork Nooksack River). Do not leave any valuables here, as our truck got busted into, broken, and everything ripped off, etc.
From here bike up the road and follow for 5 minutes when you come to the first fork where you stay left and continue uphill. After 30 minutes you will cross another creek that has yellow colored water. In another 10 minutes you will come to a spur that has a sign labeled "9070" on the left. Turn right here going uphill on a small road that would not be drivable.
There is another road spur a few minutes before this one, but it is wrong. Follow this for about 10 minutes where you come to a spot that the road is blocked by large boulders, keep going past the boulders and uphill through the trees and such. You will cross a creek or 2 while staying left at any options. Soon the North Twin will be visibly in your face and you will be able to look down on Daily Prarie behind you.
When you are directly almost below the North Twin you will reach a highpoint and start downhill, and in less than 100 feet on your left will be a spur road that branches to the left. Follow this narrow trail uphill as you ride through whoop de doos. You will hit one switchback to the left, then the right, and then a few minutes above the second right switchback a spur road will be on your left that has a cairn in the middle of the road. Turn left here and follow for a hundred feet or less to an open area with a lot of down logs etc.
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