North Ridge TR June 28/29, 2008
Weather for this climb on Sat/Sun June 28/29 was extremely warm, (low 80’s) in the lowlands which meant higher temps than usual at higher elevations.
Road to trailhead still had snow on it, so we walked about ¾ mile to trailhead (on the way out, vehicles were getting to within 100 m. of trailhead).
The log bridge crossing over Grouse Creek was cracked right in the middle with both ends laying it the creek. We found a log crossing about 30m., downstream that we crossed on going in and coming out. The trail itself had quite a bit of snow on it the higher we got. In fact the first large creek crossing after the switchback section of the trail was completely snow covered.
Got up to the hogback, then traversed up leftward about 120m up to a larger rock outcropping with water running near the side of it where we were able to find (3) separate bivy sites. The two main bivy sites there were taken by other climbers groups who were planning on going up the standard route on Sunday.
Bivy at that rock outcropping provides a nice rising traverse in the morning to the crevasse area that you need to pass through to get to the lower faces below the N Ridge proper.
Left camp at 2:30 in the morning, warm breeze blowing, crampon conditions were soft already. Usual routefinding issues through the crevasses (no surprises). Crossed Coleman low than went higher as we got past Headwall area. Got to the lower face and took the lower left face up to the start of the North Ridge proper where we took out first break.
Going up N Ridge proper the first person on the rope was sinking in about 6-10” most of the time on the way up to the Ice Cliff. Slow going.
Pitch one took the mid left side of the ice cliff to get on the ridge itself. Then two more pitches to get past the steeper face on the upper section of the ridge. All in all we belayed (3) pitches. We used ice screws on the first pitch, ice screws and one picket on the second pitch, then one ice screw and three pickets on the last belayed pitch, which turned into a running belay.
We brought (8) ice screws (used all of them) and (6) pickets (only used 4)for the climb. Climbers 1 and 2 were tied in with the 60m rope, climber 2 and 3 were tied in with the 37m rope. (for the ice cliff only). This worked fairly well. Other than that we were always roped up as a 3 person team.
Standard exit off to the left (past the large overhanging serac) was impassable. The crevasse there was already pretty wide and only had one very tenuous snowbridge left which we didn’t take as we didn’t want to have to haul anyone out at that point. I’m believe it will be completely gone by now.
There were tracks leading up much higher on the right (before the left hand traverse under the serac) but I thought those were from someone who didn’t know the route. Turns out they must have had to backtrack like we did because of the snowbridge issue.
At any rate we went backtracked then went up higher on the right side where we again ran into some impassable crevasses. This forced us further right where we went over one more snowbridge to get to the last snowfield that got us up to the summit plateau.
All in all we had to traverse quite a bit right to get access to the summit plateau. I believe this may turn into the standard route off the North Ridge for the remainder of the season, unless some adventurous party finds another way going left.
Rest of the trip back down to our camp was in uneventful other than a lot of post holing through the soft snow.