Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
PaulO

[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.

 

8997IMGA0652-med.JPG8997IMGA0653-med.JPG8997IMGA0655-med.JPG

8997IMGA0660-med.JPG8997IMGA0662-med.JPG8997IMGA0659-med.JPG

 

Global Warming: Massive glacial melt creek:

8997IMGA0649-med.JPG

Approach Notes:

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

Edited by PaulO

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dude....sorry you felt so bad.

 

A buddy and I were looking to do North in a week or two. Maybe not if it gets a bit of the white stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In that case, wondering why you prefer it when the traverse is melted out. No offense, as we had planned on it about now, but the overwhelming majority of the folks I know swear to never go except when snowed over.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not THAT bad melted out. Easy just unnerving.

 

But snow is the way to go for sure.

Share this post


Link to post
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.

Share this post


Link to post
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.

Share this post


Link to post
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

Share this post


Link to post
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

Share this post


Link to post
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

Share this post


Link to post
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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That must get nasty by they time you get down to the last 10oz or so. Even a 40 is 10% warm backwash by that point smile.gif

I never let a bottle touch my lips...its straight down and in between swallows it was resting nicely in the snow. bigdrink.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Going back to try it again tomorrow. Hopefully 2 weeks of high freezing level have melted the shaded snow...otherwise will have to just walk up Middle so it is not a wasted trip.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
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.

 

8997N_Sister_093006.jpg

Edited by PaulO

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to hear the result. Not surprised that the Bowling Alley had snow and ice. We ran into similar crap on the north side - summit pitch of Jeff. Fortunately, we were still able to make it through.

 

Thanks for the picture.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×