Report from the Wet and Scrappy — Lookout for Winchester!


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | May 18, 2009      
PNW Backcountry Skiing

Winchester Lookout

This weekend my friend Skyler and I took a trip up to Winchester Fire Lookout, an historic fire lookout north of Mt. Baker highway on top of Winchester mountain up here in Washington State (see map below). I hadn’t gotten to go backcountry skiing in a few weeks and I was itching to get out, even if the conditions looked a little iffy due to warm weather and tons of new, unconsolidated snow (and I don’t mean powder).

We tried to hike into the Lookout after classes on Friday afternoon, but we didn’t realize that five miles of the road was still covered by snow. Per Dawson family tradition I chained up the Cherokee, but was only able to hog a few hundred yards.

Backcountry Skiing

Winchester Lookout and Mount Baker.

So we slogged till eleven o’clock, and finally camped on a ridge a few miles away from the lookout. I sent my dad a Spot OK message from there, I wonder what he thought? The next day we planned to ski Mt. Larabee, but the snow didn’t want to freeze that night, so we got to the base of Larabee and headed back up to the Lookout. We hung out for the rest of the day and enjoyed the panoramic views from our perch on top of Winchester mountain.

Backcountry Skiing

Brush hiking: We thought we would take a shortcut up this grassy hill to get on the ridge that connects to Winchester Mountain. It turned out to be waist high bushes, not grass, it wasn’t a shortcut either.

Backcountry Skiing

Our bivy the first night. Brrr. At least it didn't rain!

There are a number of these old fire lookouts in these mountains, Winchester is operated as a hut by the Mount Baker Club. The lookouts are usually located on the highground, with amazing views available through 360 degrees of glass walls. I’ve heard some are surrounded by excellent backcountry skiing terrain, as Winchester is. The Lookout isn’t heated, but has a propane cookstove. In a climate such as the Cascades, you appreciate a roof and four walls — heat or not!

Backcountry Skiing

Goat mountain: One of the amazing views out of Winchester Lookout. We were going to ski goat mountain, the peak in the center, if the snow solidified the second night.

We stayed the night and slept in, after waking up early and realizing the temp had not dropped below 35 degrees all night. We headed back in time to catch lunch at the WWU dining hall and finish up some homework.

Backcountry Skiing

Our kitchen even had a propane stove, deluxe!

Backcountry Skiing

Winchester Lookout, with Canadian Border Peak (left), American Border Peak, and mount Larabee. Canadian border runs just on the other side of American Border Peak. Nice border station, you check in by presenting your climbing skins to the customs officer?

(All photos by Skyler)

Comments

6 Responses to “Report from the Wet and Scrappy — Lookout for Winchester!”

  1. Mark May 18th, 2009 11:09 am

    Louie, that’s a fantastic place. Old lookouts deserve to be turned into huts for such purposes as your trip entertained. By the way, I’d be interested to know what you think of those Radium boots.

  2. Frank May 18th, 2009 4:10 pm

    Wow, Louie, looks great and sounds like you had a quite the interesting tour!

  3. Kellan Eisenhardt May 18th, 2009 5:38 pm

    What a cold adventure! It is good to hear and see you enjoying the Northwest!

  4. Lou May 18th, 2009 7:41 pm

    Hey Frank, good to hear from you, how are things in CH?! And Kellan, if you give Louie a call I’m sure he’d take you out for some snow camping. Mark, I’m bugging Louie for a review. Have some others coming as well that we’ll be sure to publish before next winter’s buying season. Lou

  5. Lisa May 19th, 2009 5:28 am

    Hi Louie and Skyler,
    Thanks for the trip report and the beautiful photos. It’s so nice to see what you are up to, and to see you balance fun, safety, and homework. You guys are awesome!
    Love,
    Mom

  6. Susan LoAlbo (from Virginia Beach) May 21st, 2009 6:34 am

    Dear Louie,
    I am still amazed at what you do….and completely awed!
    You passion about skiing, the mountains and adverture are clear!
    I am so glad that I was able to meet you!
    Lots of Hugs from Virginia Beach,
    Susan LoAlbo

Got something to say? Please do so.





Anti-Spam Quiz:

You can subscribe to comment notification by checking the box to left, but you must leave a brief comment to do so, which records your email and requires you to use our anti-spam challange. If you don't like leaving substantive comments that's fine, just leave a simple comment that says something like "thanks, subscribed" with a made-up name. Check the comment subscription checkbox BEFORE you submit.
If you need an emoticon for a comment just copy/paste off the following list, or use text code you might be familiar with.

:D    :-)    :(    :lol:    :x    :P    :oops:    :cry:    :evil:    :twisted:    :roll:    :wink:    :!:    :?:    :idea:    :arrow:   
  
Due to comment spam we moderate most comments. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear shortly after approval. Comments with one or more links in the text may be held in moderation, for spam prevention. If you'd like to publish a photo in a comment, contact us. Guidelines: Be civil, no personal attacks, avoid vulgarity and profanity.

  Your Comments

  • Chris: Clean, affordable, and efficient mass transit (whatever form that might tak...
  • Jeremy C: Unfortunately for anyone who likes driving, self drive cars will slowly ero...
  • Lou Dawson 2: In Western Europe, I sure see a lot of people driving... it's not the nirva...
  • Shar: If your subways cars are "grunged out", then that is a reflection of the la...
  • Maz: So when you're in Europe, how do you enjoy the "grunged out subway cars and...
  • peterk: More features than an Alien: carbon, powerstrap-buckle, dual durometer sole...
  • rob trauscht: Possibly dumb question on the soles, but is anyone resoling AT boots? Seem...
  • Scott S Allen: Thanks Lou for the feed back, I really appreciate it! I have worked with B...
  • Topi: I have used Mammut RAS Light 30 for two past seasons (Euro). No durability ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: All fine Dave, appreciate the industry voice chiming in here with useful st...
  • Mammut Dave: Forgot to mention--regarding durability, with any of these light packs you ...
  • Mammut Dave: Harpo and Lou--a bit of info on the light fabric from Mammut. These two pa...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Maciej, in my opinion not quite a stiff feeling as TLT6-P, a bit stiffer th...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Scott, if lasting is your concern, when doing shell fit without liner you p...
  • Lou Dawson 2: John, I'd say your view is accurate. Until they reduce the weight and cost ...
  • John S: I have a little bit older BCA Float model, and this fall I'm helping my dau...
  • Scott: I got a 28 shell and seems tight with 1.5 fingers....may up it to the 29, b...
  • Lou2: There is no real industry standard for how lasts are measured. I go with SK...
  • Scott Allen: Scarpa site claims a 102 mm last in this model of F1 (one of the reasons I ...
  • Maciej Pike-Biegunski: This boot looks really appealing. My feet measure out at an 8D on a Brannoc...
  • Christian: I made the switch to these late last winter after giving up on my old TLT5 ...
  • Scott McCullough: You could make a bungy lock for split boarders. I bet someone might like t...
  • Kam Harris: Thin soles wear out ridiculously fast on my Dynafit boots, usually in about...
  • Bill H: Hey once we can sell a ski clothing brand on including panels of power gene...
  • Lou Dawson 2: As this could be a viable mod that folks would use in real life, I'll go ah...
  • See: From a social engineering standpoint, I don’t think I would want to make a ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Jeremy, see my other comments about battery regulations. Arcteryx battery (...
  • Lou2: David, I'll look into it, but let me tell you that after spending literally...
  • Lou2: Update, I corrected the weights. Thanks Craig, I'll correct shortly. Sho...
  • Craig: Just so you know, with the conversion to metric is wrong... "30 liter veri...

  Recent Posts


Facebook Twitter Google Instagram Youtube
Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

Switch To Mobile Version