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BootsandPants

[TR] The Brothers - Brothers Traverse 05/13/2018

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Trip: The Brothers - Brothers Traverse

Trip Date: 05/13/2018

Trip Report:

Our merry band of chosstronauts climbed both of the summits of the Brothers on the 13th of May to celebrate Nathan successfully completing another trip around the sun. There’s enough beta out there already on the traverse, so I won’t get much into blow by blow of the climb, but I wanted to share some pictures and info I would have found helpful to know before doing it.

 

The trail up to the lake is a highway and very well maintained. On our way up, we passed a friendly WTA work group who was working on blocking switchback cuts. If you haven’t hiked this trail, there are 19 switchbacks in the first 1700ft vert. We were thankful for them on the way up, only to curse them on the way down. Such is the duality of climbing…

The next few miles through the Valley of Silent Men was just as memorable as the first time I hiked up the S. Brother 8 years ago, and even more so! There’s a section of fierce blowdowns and mandatory schwacking for about a mile shortly after leaving the lake. Lots of log hopping and trying not to fall into the river all while fighting devil’s club and other pointy foliage. There is a “path” that is flagged through the wreckage, but it’s pretty much a choose your own adventure affair. I didn’t remember this section from my last ascent, so I wonder when all of it occurred, or if it’s just been a deteriorating trail for many years? Anyway, once navigated, the trail again becomes easy to follow to the Lena Forks/climbers camp.

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AOW3fsXc8oXGhg98zP03_R8Q6cmo7altbYVNX6q3dYLtJuUAeiDtgdUoFMCSKiTX73rNDJdKy-ZH9i728-ZEv-7Ew6IF4x2A9E3jXH13XPyGWfpLMw36BcY9t2z8SapLQogLOoVz1q3tP4zgVX0kC3s9VDI-Gcpl7tHPGyGvdfIizYzB-MoLqemUPnG1djd5WGdBDH_xYTSsF0HCeRzZaFB_GmuRCzt2i6UOU6arbmw4hZMdoZ6AzO7iSavGmsY-fZvdVdYgFmiPvCYzgpHJb7OwiVDFmOzu-cKiCMv9PdGMfn4iv8notZ_MxcKklVdO3LRZtgE0SUyCpBpTr-vjaF-2jdLI0FO-FDxih6QRGJOwPoUQhLHDyTOq04BEVW9fOKVpBXMq9S0_7nXd1A8-NUFr0gAczmezPQAYmV8B6vOZ8xMmyMuFZv0WdBPvF5o0AKEBX_fT0cn1XcSafQOFqnuUvR2pwrbWX_IHgu0gMOi0PaGpXSGBLkZPnYNxJGGQ_VRB1gN8Ii9iaaZ6nmp37Lnn6D3lGQA1ecnbYHi-KExLmqyNzRp9ocysYfKEZUxzaroQ07jNCGud2L4UmIfV1Y4aTKFBTJmULc0fktA=w842-h631-no&key=e06c6a07d2bc790136e63730450ab4071544e40b826b9fe4f173443e92ea63c7

We stashed our trail runners and swapped into mountain boots here, but you could probably belay that for another mile or so until after you get through the burn. I’m sure there’s a path through there somewhere, but we didn’t find it. There is a snow finger that follows climber’s left of the burn that we used to bypass some of the bullshit, but this is melting out fast and should be trodden with care. It’s quite thin in places and the river flowing underneath is cold and fast. I punched through on the way down, but was lucky to land upright with my feet on a big rock and my hands out of the hole, keeping me from being swept underneath too far. Be careful!

uMhNt4fqxyO1K5fn7WJ0uWm_ofrNbIOP1ob5afeSMsvJugTXYxrRD0xI3mDAD9eHmxZbeeSyC1_A45pl1q0_X90DBJZWFQIJlIpU_wCm9YNrTe4iGZLCZ43UnjKmau_mXwStpsGGnAW8vY9nm2GimMmbHIYOtJ940aRI1mAegfmDuM3b6lFPD4LRManZkBPDebKAbN4Nunu9bXlqdvatUdFCQ0FuaaQAKxnkxQKFHecqVfHfKysOQZARv2T-oN6Gw3fgH94iyPDozRI6B8I10AP8YyjnVdMQPFU7fP046nEkWgZ0InjdURhy40zOs6uwJEt8OCQJwecegIRlJrZdrLKFKWsx0_kbhzdSO0B9yEVHE08zqghgwtmuyARjp5AppJFol5q01h23t-sBjGzmTv7FTRyiTWRWHS9qFIX1hXjXB7n2_iJrLNs8_uLml8ZZv_T4_reOhR6p64B14SiJPAsWApwX8XtX8hwQNNEPt_2L9rWIzp0ywIfYCkOfCe8yRq3NzbAGXjAmG-dk4gkPEuD4KIxudnRrI-5YzBCN3IMbVZmHQT0Zrdzo9ewRZpMlllEg3ynYPPGgUOKZ5ZNXm82MyH2fuXxTHSxEGMd-Qlj_bWP3FvAjiyHSCm3StxEQB0OzxtRCvgMfht3rkmvI_fsXAVoxjl3MMg=w355-h631-no
Don't fall in a hole

The snow eventually widens into the large south couloir at the top of the burn, and it’s easy going and continuous up the slopes. We chopped a bivy around 5500 ft at some relatively “flat” spots and settled in for the night. In all, from TH to camp was about 5000 ft of vert and 10 miles. Not having done this sort of approach in quite a while, we were all pretty knackered and settled in pretty fast.

The night was uneventful, save from the massive stomach cramps my dinner gave me. I usually don’t do dehydrated meals anymore for these climbs, but I found one in my kitchen and the convenience of it won out over going to the grocery store. All I’ll say is that there was a very different sort of alpine aire happening all night in my sleeping bag, which made for a very restless night.

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Good night south sound

Woke up at 430AM the next morning to aim for the 6100” notch in the S Brother SE Ridge with the goal of gaining the Great Basin, the North peak, and then traversing to the South peak. There’s no real good description of what to aim for, and each TR seems to gain a different notch. So here’s a picture of what to shoot for, unmistakable marked.

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This notch seemed to match the approach notes on the Mountaineer’s website, and we found some rappel tat while climbing it, so I think it’s the correct way to go. There was only a thin finger of snow up the gully when we did it, so it may be gone by now. I’m not sure what climbing up the rock of the gully would be like, but the short sections we had to do were attention grabbing. The backside is steep snow down to the Great Basin, but nothing five minutes of face-in down climbing can’t dispatch.

The great basin is quite beautiful, and it’s a really cool feature to traverse across. This is the prominent snow slope visible from far across the sound. It’s amazing to be able to look at from far away and know that you walked across there.

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Decent to the basin from the notch

The ascent couloir to the North Brother was dispatched quickly on slightly mushy but continuous snow all the way to the ridge top. The snow will probably last for a little while longer at least. This deposits you almost right at the summit; a quick few rock moves away.

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The summit register on the North Brother is gone, but the anchor chain is still there. Wonder what happened to it?

From here the traverse begins. Follow all the other beta that’s out there along with your own intuition and you won’t go awry. Every feature that looks impassable or sketchy from afar has options aplenty when examined up close. The climbing was all very straight forward and wasn’t difficult; if you’re doing 5.7+ moves you’re off route.

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I will note that we went an alternate way to finish the traverse. Instead of going through a cave/moat, and then up the steep NE face of the South peak as described in the beta, we continued to traverse to the NW face, over a rock rib, and up the NW couloir. The route described in other TRs wasn’t in for us; the snow was too unconsolidated and thin at the steepest section and it would have been asking a little much of it to hold on for 4 climbers to pass through. Our alternate way worked well with an exposed move or two of 5.choss. There’s a semi-decent crack to build a quick anchor to protect the leader during these moves here. Be careful if going this way; the snow traverse is quite steep and the rock is very loose and not trivial. There are a few very large loose blocks on this portion waiting to take out a careless climber and a fall here would be catastrophic. It goes though! From the top of the exit couloir, a short 100” scramble puts you on the summit.

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The traverse took us about 3 hours from the time we roped up to the time the second rope team topped out (2:15-2:30 moving time for each group). We simul climbed almost the entire route, with one static belay over the 5.choss rib. From the South summit, we were back at the TH in 6 hours, including picking up our camp on the way out and lounging around at Lena Forks swapping shoes.

Overall, it was fun and a great first climb of the season. The route holds a lot of alpine challenges which all felt real, but never felt too sketchy. It’s a long way back in there though, so bring strong legs and good shoes.

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Gear Notes:
30m rope 2 pickets 2-3 small cams deez nutz

Approach Notes:
Too many switchbacks.....

 

 

 

Edited by BootsandPants
Adding photos
  • Like 1
  • Rawk on! 4

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This is a great outing, love it!  We opted for the traverse in the other direction since we had no idea what to shoot for to get into the Great Basin.  We were scratching our head on the way back so felt that this was a good plan in the murk of early morning.  I don't think we had to rappel, but it was close in a couple spots.

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Nice work! And good beta on the alternate to the NE snow slope on South Brother. Sounds like a smart move. 

Cheers!

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Great TR, pics, and intel. Thanks for adding this to the archive!

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