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JonParker

[TR] Green creek - Circuit 07/01/2022

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Posted (edited)

Trip: Green creek - Circuit

Trip Date: 07/01/2022

Trip Report:

 

I first saw Darin’s TR quite a while ago and have been excited to check this out ever since. It did not disappoint. The weather throughout the day was photogenic, so I’m sharing a few photos and observations from my trip.

 

The crossing of middle fork Nooksack a quarter mile west of the trailhead looked different from what I had seen in photos. Either I didn’t find the easiest one, or a giant boulder has washed away. It ended in a single slippery log, not very wide. A backwards butt scoot on the way in and inching forward in a spider man crouch on the way out got me through the first and last of many no fall zones for the day.

The ancient trees on the other side are very cool. I was surprised to see a handful of old giants all the way up to tree line near the green creek crossing. At first I missed the climber’s trail. It starts just before a switchback that is about 1000 ft from Hildebrand creek. The path has evidently seen a lot of traffic because it’s very easy to follow. The blue diamonds nailed into trees, at times every 30 ft, are unnecessary and IMO not in great taste.

I lost some time looking for an easier crossing up stream at green creek, eventually returning to where the path had led and crossing there. It was a bit above knee height. On the way back my shoes were wet from all the snow travel so I kept them on for the crossing. Much easier than barefoot. Beautiful turquoise waters and red-brown rocks here are slightly reminiscent of the southwest, like Havusupai, but flatter. The pines are another interesting surprise. Definitely seems like a different ecology dropped by mistake into the west cascades.

I’m not certain I actually ascended green creek arete. I started on the right side of something, gradually crossing to the left side, running into sketchy garbage and backtracking a couple times, then returning to the middle. Whatever was to my left across the widening choss gully looked more like an arete. After topping out I kept traversing rocks until it seemed more efficient to switch to snow.

I used crampons for the section leading to NE ride of S twin but went without for the rest of the day. The snow was soft enough that kicking steps was easy, while still being supportive.

The down climb of south side of S twin was the first of 3 tedious careful choss descents. It’s not possible to see the bottom from the top, so I was just following my nose for the way that seemed the least messed up, keeping an eye out for the occasional goat path.

The snow conditions also meant I had to be careful at every snow-rock interface to avoid hollowed out bridges. I reached jaws tooth and decided to keep my approach shoes on. I thought they would have better traction than my old rock shoes I had accidentally packed. After easy slabs I started up the splitter crack leading to the top. There was a fair bit of low 5th throughout the day, but this crack was the only part that felt like real climbing as opposed to blocky scrambling. It’s a cool feature.

In the final 5 feet the angle increases and I suddenly became acutely aware that my feet no longer felt very secure. One shot of adrenaline, two moves, and it was over. I didn’t like my margin of safety there. Maybe rock shoes would have made it easier, or maybe it’s just not easy enough for my taste. Everyone’s skill and risk tolerance is different, but in retrospect I would say a rope makes a lot of sense for that pitch.

Slightly rattled from the Jaws tooth finish, I felt a little intimidated by the sight of Skookum. But here I was. I rapped with my 30m and headed up the crest. It turns out to be comprised of easy moves despite the exposure, felt like a return to (4th- low 5th) scrambling.

I skipped Hayden because I’d like to climb the NE pillar Darin posted about, some other time, with a rope :)

For little sister, the safest exit from snow took me to the left side. I ascended this for 100-200 ft to a prominent ledge that I took to the right rib. Moving up this rib the rock quality was good but gradually became slightly suspect, and blocky but overhanging features kept forcing me to the right. There were short steps here of probably up to 5.6. Just when I was getting nervous about the route I found a chimney I could wedge into and reach out left onto a narrow ledge to escape the rightward trend and return to easier ground on the left side of the rib. This was the last crux (besides returning across the middle fork). I continued to the top of little Sister and continued on to tag Cinderella too, from the west. Then I began the descent of green creek glacier, generally staying to the right, occasionally glissading, keeping an eye out for cracks. There are definitely some around by now. They can be tricky to spot from above, so the lower angle the path, the better. 

At the bottom of the glacier I crossed to the N side of the creek on snow. This meant I had to ford the creek once more on the way out, but travel looks much simpler on the N side coming down.

After the log crossing at middle fork Nooksack I took a ritual dip in a shallow side channel and was pleased to find that my car wasn’t broken into, which meant I could ski Ruth the next day.

Thanks to Darin and others for all the beta and stoke. I look forward to going back there.

Gear Notes:
Axe, crampons, 30m. YMMV

Approach Notes:
Logs 1/4 mi W of elbow lake TH

Edited by JonParker

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Awesome! Its a really fun trip on great rock. I agree on the blue blazes on the climbers trail. Probably a good idea to get a trail more beat in to avoid having a more impactful spider web trail network, but by now they're not necessary (interesting word choice) I don't think.

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Cool!  I should go in there this summer and pull those markers, agreed that they are a bit much.  And I know @dberdinka thinks so too...

Great TR, thanks for sharing and I am glad your feet didn't slip!

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Posted (edited)

There's a much nicer log crossing about 100 yards downstream of the parking area last I checked (about a month ago)

The blazes are sparse for most of the trail, maybe a few too many near the junction with the real trail

Edited by Kameron
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That place is cool! I was there a handful of years ago for Labor Day weekend and there were hundreds of toads everywhere. Alpine to forest. EVERYWHERE! So cool!

can’t beat the rock either. 

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