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The Birthday Tour

Skiing a classic backcountry tour around Liberty Bell Mountain at Washington Pass
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 5 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview :  The Birthday Tour is another classic spring ski tour that is available when Washington Pass opens in April or May depending on the... more »

Tips:  Essential back-country touring gear. Beacons, snow shovel and probe, plus the ten essentials. Best done during the spring when the... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Start of Tour

This tour requires a car shuttle so have one car at the hairpin turn and start the trip at the Blue Lake Trailhead. From the Blue lake Trailhead, climb Southeast toward the Cornice Peak Col. The col has open skiing if you choose to have a short day and descend back to Highway 20. Just below the last pitch to reach the notch, you’ll notice a... More

2. Cornice Peak Col

The final climb over the notch at the top of Cornice Peak Col requires packing your skis and climbing a bit exposed under a large cornice. The boot track drifts left of the fall line and around the east aspect of the cornice. Clearly assess the snow and potential cornice stability before approaching the col.

3. First Descent

Once over the top of the notch, prepare for a 2400 foot descent to the south into the Copper Creek drainage. This wide run starts between 35-40 degrees and gradually diminishes in steepness when you reach the drainage on the south side. It warms quickly in the spring sun so get here early for the best snow unless it is fully consolidated.

4. Copper Creek Drainage

Once down in the drainage, turn to the SW up to a bench that is straight up the Copper Creek valley drainage. After about 800 feet of climbing, you’ll reach the bench then turn NE up an open slope that leads to the steep cliffs that make the southern extension of the Early Winters Spires ridge.

5. Slot Couloir - Second Descent

At a natural gap at the top of a ridge, climb up slightly to find your entry point and drop into the slot couloir. The couloir rapidly opens up into a wide slope that drifts to the northeast as you descend. After dropping down the east side of the Early Winters Spire ridge, be careful not to head straight down to the basin below, as cliff bands ... More

6. East flank of Early Winters Ridge

When you reach the bottom of the bowl below the couloir, turn left when you enter the sparse larch trees traverse over to the next couloir and run out. If you follow this second drainage it ends is a short, steep but fun drop into the valley floor between the Early Winter’s ridge and Silver Star Mountain. If you want a mellow descent, traverse... More

7. Early Winters Creek Valley

Once in the valley, follow the wooded Early Winters Creek bed towards the hairpin turns to your awaiting transportation back to the Blue Lake trailhead.
This circuit offers fantastic views and challenging skiing through dramatic terrain.

8. Hairpin Turn - Hwy 20

Park you second car here or hitch a ride up to the Blue Lake Trailhead when you finish your tour.