Mount Larrabee by American Border Peak via Twin Lakes / 拉拉比山

  • Reading time:11 mins read

Mount Larrabee by American Border Peak ranks #3 in the Border Ranges. At its southern foothills near High Pass lies the old Gargett Mine. Of the various routes, Twin Lakes by Winchester Mountain is the most direct.

Mount Larrabee at first sight
Mount Larrabee at first sight

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Mount Larrabee at a Glance

Access: Twin Lakes Trailhead
Round Trip: 10 miles
Elevation Range: 3640′-7861
Gear: helmet, microspikes, crampons, ice ax
Route Info: Ignas Cerniauskas
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no

The Preface

It was my second time here after visiting American Border Peak three years earlier. I vividly recalled the horrible final two miles in a car to Twin Lakes. So I didn’t think I’d return so soon, given the unpleasant driving experience.

Mount Larrabee was one of the peaks the dogs perhaps could summit with me. Starting June 21, Road 3065 was snow-free to Yellow Aster Butte Trailhead. So that meant biting the bullet and walking the 2.3 miles to Twin Lakes.

This way to Nanny Goat Mountain
Roadside attraction

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Road 3065 to Twin Lakes

We arrived at the snow berm by Yellow Aster Butte Trailhead early Saturday. Two cars parked down the road, with another pulling in as we left. The hiker and I chatted before we embarked on the least exciting part of the trip–road walk.

More impassible snow patches appeared shortly; beyond those were a few large logs. Soon, we cut upslope in continuous snow at the first switchback. Then we walked the road again from the third bend to the lakes.

A morning stroll through Pasayten Wilderness
Snow by Yellow Aster Butte Trailhead

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Mount Larrabee via Twin Lakes

The dead silence in the lake basin was more pleasing than the last time in August. It felt incredibly serene as we meandered through the ponds with peaks poking out from east and west. Meanwhile, the restrooms were only partly visible.

We walked through where the summer trail would be in the trees. Soon, we were out in the open at 5400′ on Winchester Mountain’s east shoulder. There we first looked at Mount Larrabee and The Pleiades above the basin.

Twin Lakes Basin
Twin Lakes Basin

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Back to Plan A

Without the summer trail, the east slope looked super sketchy. So I thought we’d go higher up on Winchester Mountain. But the gentle contour lines on the map were, in fact, cliffs as I peeked around the corner at 5800′.

So our best bet was to drop to 5200′ back at the clearing before inching through the steep terrain. We stayed roughly at the same altitude for the next half a mile in stable snow. Soon, we were at the bottom of Low Pass.

This way to Mount Larrabee
This way to Mount Larrabee

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En Route to High Pass

I looked up, and it was surprising to see the snow wall above the saddle. The summer trail would zigzag up the hill, but going straight up was more efficient. Then we walked by the snow bank and soon found a mild incline to continue.

We traversed the crest for the next 300′ and bypassed Point 6131 from the east. Then we reached High Pass shortly and had our first glimpse of Tomyhoi Peak. We continued uphill for another 200′ before stashing the snowshoes.

Aiming for High Pass below Mount Larrabee
Aiming for High Pass below Mount Larrabee

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Mount Larrabee South Ridge

Soon, we contoured the south basin through old avalanche debris. The slope steepened at 6600′ as it climbed up steadily to a flat area by the rock spur 200′ above. Next came the crux and the “exciting” part of the climb.

The trade-off for avoiding the mass early in the season was dealing with steep snow. As we neared the gully west of the cliff bands, I wished I didn’t have the dogs here. But they decided to charge ahead and wait for me by the entrance. “Show off,” I said.

The gully crux
The gully crux

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The Final Stretch

Despite the gentle contour lines, the gully felt steeper than the incline below. But I’ve learned long ago to take the map with a grain of salt. Then we hugged the rocks on the east and found a safe spot to return to the ridge.

We stayed on rocks for the next 700′ and saw cairns en route. Interestingly, the faint path remained intact despite the red rocks shifting constantly. We crossed a short stretch of snow before reaching the elongated summit.

Looking back at the route
Looking back at the route

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Mount Larrabee Summit Views

The actual high point sat on the east, with a massive cornice draping the north. But the flat top was quite spacious for us to steer clear of the snow. Finally, after countless photo and video stops, we made it. Woot!

It took a second to recognize the pointy American Border Peak to the north! The gorgeous long ridgeline led to the distinct Tomyhoi Peak to the west. Then the familiar Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan filled the southern skyline.

Southern panoramic view
Southern panoramic view

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Leaving High Pass and Twin Lakes

We could’ve waited another month to move faster on dry ground. But the area was prettier under the snow, letting us avoid most rocks en route. To top it off, it was pretty peaceful without the massive campers.

The fresh tracks above Twin Lakes led us to the only campers by the lower pond. I chatted with Adrian and Sonya, who had spent the previous night on Artist Point. Then the pups and I bid our farewell after fetching some water.

Finding our way home
Finding our way home

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Dan Sjolseth

    I love seeing your dogs on the summit. They are impressive and cute.

    1. onehikeaweek

      Thanks for stopping by the blog; I appreciate it.

  2. Alexei

    Nice work you three!

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