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mtangeman

[TR] Twin Sisters Range - Green Creek (Lite) Circuit 08/28/2018

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Trip: Twin Sisters Range - Green Creek (Lite) Circuit

Trip Date: 08/28/2018

Trip Report:

 

I've really only dabbled in the Twin Sisters area since moving to Bham for school a couple years ago, but what a surprisingly complex, interesting and under-appreciated resource it is, so close to town. The recently cleared air got me giddy, and after being unable to find a partner for any adventures further afield I set my sights closer to home. The Green Creek Circuit looked like a great way to familiarize myself with lesser-traveled corners of the range, and it was. Definitely gained a new appreciation for this area. 

 

I crossed the Middle Fork and began hiking the Elbow Lake trail in the deep blue, pre-dawn glow graciously accompanied by the feeling that some apex predator was eyeing me from the bushes which tends to happen while hiking solo in unfamiliar places. The "bushwack" into the cirque has apparently really cleaned up since previous TRs I've read; I've had harder times following trails to popular crags in Squamish. There's solid tread the whole way and the route is generously marked with blue reflective diamonds, perhaps excessively so, but it eased any worries I had about potentially having to hike this section in the dark. Some of the ancient cedars and firs in this area are really impressive. 

The Green Creek cirque is gorgeous. It wouldn't even be unreasonable for the highly motivated boulderer to haul some pads out here - there's some great looking boulders and lines. I couldn't have felt any further way from Bham or other familiar places up the Nooksack. Truly wild zone, that is until I had to pick up someone's pile of plastic food wrappers that were clearly too heavy to pack out. Seriously? 

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I started up Green Creek Arete as the sun poked over Mt. Baker and began to fill the valley. Solid, clean rock, nice exposure, great scrambling. I haven't felt that relaxed and in tune with the mountains in a while.

As I topped out, smoke began to fill the air and Kulshan was temporarily obscured - bleh. It slowly cleared, though, and crossing slabs and tarns en route to the Sisters Glacier was another unexpected scenic highlight of the trip. Easy travel, great views and lots of peaks ahead. 

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The moat crossing to S Twin NE Ridge was easy, and the ridge was a lot shorter than I expected. On top around 10, I started to relax and slow my pace down with all the daylight still in front of me. 

As I scooted down the south face gullies, I was eyeing Skookum with a little apprehension. I didn't bring a rope, and the Jaws Tooth downclimb didn't sound very up my alley, so I was looking at climbing directly up to the Jaws Tooth notch and finishing up Skookum. It looked like a large moat to steep choss - which, in hindsight after climbing other things on this traverse, I'm sure it wasn't, but I also became more worried about sketchy looking conditions crossing the Hayden Col, Little Sister Col and dropping back on the glacier, and ended up passing Skookum by. I know I probably missed out on the best climbing of the whole outing, but that was my call in the moment. I'll be back. 

A common theme of the Sisters area appears to be things looking much steeper/chossier/more difficult than they really are from a distance. Despite being totally melted out, the Hayden Col was casual, so I scrambled over to a summit I thought to be Ribbon Point, but was actually the one just to the north of it. Either way, cool spot. The talus crossings weren't nearly as bad as I'd heard they might be without snow, though my bruised tailbone might think differently. Slower going, but reasonable.

Not wanting to miss out on any more good climbing, I eyed up my line on Little Sister's NW face and settled on the rightmost of the two ribs on the left side of the face. Surprisingly good 5.4ish up and sometimes left of a little corner system, stepping left onto a beautiful, highly featured and varnished slab to bypass a small bulge, leading to class 3 up the rib to the summit. Stellar!

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selfies are hard with an slr! stoked on top of little sister

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route up little sister with the easy-ish access to green ck glacier marked

I dropped my pack at the notch just above the Green Creek Glacier, sussed it out and found passage via a collapsed snow bridge. All around, the schrund was huge, and I decided to go with the devil I knew and hop across here, as opposed to traversing Little Sister and Cinderella and potentially not  being able to get back down to the glacier. This I think was a good call, the normal col where people drop onto the glacier was severely melted out with a large looking moat.

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The hike down the glacier, into the valley and out was calm and tranquil. The smoke had fully cleared, I don't think I've ever had as good of a view of Lincoln and Colfax as this. Grassy benches without a trace of human travel, bright orange rock contrasting with Baker's white, and the jagged cirque and glacier at my back. 15 hours car to car, for what little peakbagging I actually accomplished I'd say this is a modest time that could be significantly improved with less lollygagging, summit naps, routefinding snafus and blueberry pit stops. But I like all those things. 

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Gear Notes:
axe and pons, sense of adventure

Approach Notes:
now equipped for the masses

Edited by mtangeman
  • Like 2
  • Rawk on! 2

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Nice!  You'll most certainly want to go back for the Jaw's Tooth and Skookum.  The best climbing on the circuit for sure!

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As it gets more popular I hope people work to keep it as pristine as they found it. Unfortunately in that sterile an environment it seems pretty easy to leave a lasting mess behind, witness the desicration I nearly stepped in on the “grassy benches” last weekend.  Dig a hole!  WTF!  

09EFE075-DEF2-4DF6-8035-14F721809969.jpeg

Edited by dberdinka
  • Smells bad 2

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Someone needs to have a conversation with the NOCA Poop Nazi. 

Anybody remember her?  The ranger with a thick German accent who worked the desk in Marblemount in the late 90's and was quite fond of the LNT video that they used to show people before issuing a permit.

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1 hour ago, JasonG said:

Someone needs to have a conversation with the NOCA Poop Nazi. 

Anybody remember her?  The ranger with a thick German accent who worked the desk in Marblemount in the late 90's and was quite fond of the LNT video that they used to show people before issuing a permit.

To be fair, people can be assholes, literally, in the environment. Sometimes it's from laziness or downright deliberate disregard for protocol, but sometimes it's from ignorance. I think a lot of people don't understand that there is little opportunity for biodegradation of their poop in many alpine settings. Bottom line (so to speak) is people should first try to use toilets in the vicinity when possible and learn to do their business 200 feet from any water source, find rich organic soil where decay is likely to happen, dig a hole at least 10 inches deep, bury all business, and put a rock on it afterward to keep critters from digging it up again. If the soil is too rocky to dig a hole it's probably not a good place to go in the first place because there won't be enough microbial activity to decompose things. If you can't find a place to go properly, then use the blue bags you've been provided.  

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1 minute ago, Rad said:

but sometimes it's from ignorance.

I find this hard to believe in this day and age.  But this is just an assumption.  I've never come upon someone crapping improperly and asked them their reasons.  :lmao:

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49 minutes ago, JasonG said:

I find this hard to believe in this day and age.  But this is just an assumption.  I've never come upon someone crapping improperly and asked them their reasons.  :lmao:

I'd be willing to bet you've had partners who've taken a dump in alpine terrain, laid it to rest in a shallow grave of gravel, put a rock over it, and called it good even though there was little chance their deposit would be biodegraded in a reasonable timeframe compared to if they had sought richer soils... 

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1 minute ago, Rad said:

laid it to rest in a shallow grave of gravel, put a rock over it, and called it good

I thought we were talking about the photo above?  I think if you prevent future parties from stepping in or grabbing your poo, and you've not gone so close to a stream as to sicken someone, you've done a pretty good job.  But, then again, I'm no Poop Nazi.  :wink:

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2 minutes ago, JasonG said:

I thought we were talking about the photo above?  I think if you prevent future parties from stepping in or grabbing your poo, and you've not gone so close to a stream as to sicken someone, you've done a pretty good job.  But, then again, I'm no Poop Nazi.  :wink:

The photo above is clearly over the top. But I'm arguing that we need to do more than cover our business and hope for the best. Marmots, mountain goats, rodents, and perhaps other critters may dig up your smelly offering and spread it around. Moreover, if it lies in gravel where there are few or no bacteria and fungi living it'll run into the nearest water source when the fall rains wash through the gravel. So yes, we need to do more than cover it in the alpine. See what Climbing has to say: Poop guide for climbers

Maybe I should apply for the PN job ;)

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banff used to tell you that in the alpine the best technique is to crap in the open and smear it out into a thin layer on talus with another rock so UV can do its work. burial and/or covering just preserves it.

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1 hour ago, G-spotter said:

in the alpine the best technique is to crap in the open and smear it out into a thin layer on talus with another rock

Short of carrying it out, you're right, and I've still heard this from park staff.

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Cool! I heard a while back that there's an official trail in there now, and it sounds like that might actually be true? I can confirm that it was a bit of a 'schwack in 2007. All of this shit talking reminds me of the infamous cigarette butt discussed in the first ever TR to come out of the area in 2005:  

 

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