Jump to content

[TR] North Sister (solo attempt)- South Ridge etc 9/9/2006


Recommended Posts

Climb: North Sister (solo attempt)-South Ridge etc


Date of Climb: 9/9/2006


Trip Report:

Left Portland at 3:45 am and Obsidian Trailhead at 7:15. Felt ok but after a few hours gradually got ill to the point weakness and fatigue were my constant companions.


Had not been up the North for several years and prefer to go when the traverse is melted out. Made fair time to the bottom of the south ridge but the long scree slog took a huge toll on my already severe lack of energy. Managed to get up on to the ridge proper and discovered the 'traditional route' skirting the back side and also what looked like a newer way across the face towards the Middle. Choose the old way I had went before and at 9800+ feet discovered even more of the back side had fallen off. As it was 3pm (my pre-decided turn around time) and the unprotected drop around a slippery, rotten point to cross around to the traverse side brought me to a decision to limp back down. Changing out of my boots helped a lot and I got to the car by dark. Not sure why I felt so bad (pushing 50 ?) but it was still a good day. Had the entrire North and Middle to myself above the meadow. Beautiful day. Looks like 4K snow level the next few days will wipe out any new tries for now. Oh well... Wish I knew some climbing buddies with more gear...




Gear Notes:

Boots, brought ax and crampons but not needed, rope would have assured success.





Global Warming: Massive glacial melt creek:


Approach Notes:

great trail to ridge. Scree to attain upper ridge bad as EVER.

Edited by PaulO
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 24
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

It is a nasty slog up onto the ridge and going the way I always had prior - up the spine of the ridge - now leads across several missing sections which requires climbing down and around. It looks like most folks now veer diagonally up the mess from the glacier heading for the upper end where the rotten but more solid rock begins. Past years when I went back after some early fall precip there was always a thin but persistent ice layer up the climb from the traverse as it is always shaded making it tough.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9800 feet is high enough for AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) to kick in. Do you drink coffee or other caffeinated substances? Do you drink alcohol or smoke? Did you drink plain water or a sugar/salt mixture of some kind during the hike? (Hyponatremia - electrolytic imbalance and exacerbated by water intake alone.) I'm in my fifties and I was just on Mt. Adams a few weeks ago (no TR yet, but I will). I live on the East Coast and although I ran up Mt. St. H a week before and did other short day climbs in between, all of these factors can slow you down (altitude kills speed). Just my thoughts. But congratulate youself on the outing. It was better than sitting home. Better luck next time.... for us all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

LOL....I'm up on Adams a lot. A couple years ago, a group of us went - one guy brought a 5th of tequila, another brought margarita mix. A garbage bag and snow and we were having margaritas at Lunch Counter. I drink coffee & alcohol, and water while climbing. No worries so far, but I've only been to just above 14K. We did have an east coaster on Adams, and he made it to the false summit.


I'm guessing PaulO wasn't experiencing AMS.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To answer your questions:


While I like to get out and do car to car climbs up the 'easier' summits in Oregon and SW Washington I most always end up going by myself plus I have never invested in more than crampons and my trusty WWII era wood handle ax my Uncle gave me (he brought back several on the way home back then).


My first time up the North was many years ago in early June of a big snow year. The traverse was fat and steep and, being young and stupid, my cousin and I crossed it unprotected.


Age brings wisdom and, not being equipped to cross safely on the snow, the other 7 or 8 times I have been there were late season bare crossings. I do not get the same you slip you die feeling picking my way through the crumbly, usually muddy and not quite as steep bare traverse as the seeming near verticle snow crossing. I totally agree with JLAG it is easy when bare but I cannot say for certain what it was like now as I was still on the behind the last rock hiding the traverse when I turned back. I would also agree a well protected crossing on the snow is certainly the easiest way to do it. The point is to do what you are comfortable with and within your ability. I was camping with the wife and kids 8500' up between the Middle and North July 2003 when a helicopter woke us up landing 100 feet away at 7am ferrying a rescue crew to recover a body from a fall on the traverse a few days earlier. It can be deadly.


I do know a LOT of the rotten mountain on the back side of the upper ridge before the traverse has fallen off over the years. You used to be able to skip along the back side after you got above the choss then cut through and up to the traverse with little exposure. That is why I was wondering if the apparent other path cutting across just below the top of the ridge on the same side as the traverse is on (facing the middle) might be the better way to go now? Where I ended up was a spot where you would have to drop down a steep rotten, debris covered 60 feet or so to pass around an outcropping to gain access to the correct side of the ridge just before the traverse. It looked to be a more likely place to slip then what I recall of the melted out traverse from past years.


As for why I felt awful, not sure. Never have gotten sick at altitude. Had plenty to eat and drink and it certainly was not cold. Seems to me at some point after 40 there are just some days when energy is nonexistent and other days it is abundant.


I hope to get up the Middle still before the real snow sets in but the North will have to wait for next year at least for me. cry.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

LOL....I'm up on Adams a lot. A couple years ago, a group of us went - one guy brought a 5th of tequila, another brought margarita mix. A garbage bag and snow and we were having margaritas at Lunch Counter.

thumbs_up.gif We each carried and drank one of those giant 72oz. bottles of Hair of the Dog brew at the lunch counter several years ago. You have to carry out the heavy empty though. Good gawd, that was fun! bigdrink.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

drank one of those giant 72oz. bottles of Hair of the Dog brew


You could walk after one of those!?!?! What do you have a hollow leg or something? hellno3d.gif

Or a high tolerance thanks to a lifetime of gritty experience. We pulled those babies out around 3pm and drank them into the evening. I was by all accounts hammered. thumbs_up.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Actually I did give it a shot again yesterday but had the same result. The picture Billy posted shows a lot of snow and looking at the route from the lava bed on Obsidian trail at daybreak on the way in I thought the same. By the time I got up above the meadow to where I could have seen in more detail what it looked like a curtain of thick smoke had moved over the summits from the Middle north over past Jefferson. This prevented me from seeing much of anything up high even though it was right above me. I decided to go for the middle and proceeded over towards the ridge. It was quite icy and firm so I put on the crampons. As my fancy boots made my feet really sore I wore my other boots and brought my old army surplus crampons. One of them broke right in 2 before I got over to the ridge. Looking up at the North ridge of the Middle covered in snow and ice I decided to sneak through the crevices on the less steep part and head down mad.gif


In Hindsite: On the way down the wind switched to west, cleared the smoke and revealed the face of the North and the actual route were all BARE! OH well - guess it WILL have to be next season. Might have some pics if they turn out will post later.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"In Hindsite: On the way down the wind switched to the west, cleared the smoke and revealed the face of the North and the actual route were all BARE!"


Double Hindsite: Looking at my pic enlarged I see there was a bit of snow/ice on the traverse (circled blue) but, much worse the short chute to the summit is caked over (circled red). Glad I did not go. I spent the longest 1/2 hour of my life in there once solo in similiar conditions deciding I could move to turn around without sliding on down the fast way.



Edited by PaulO
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...