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rocky_joe

Three Sisters Traverse

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It's that time of year again. Snow is melting rapidly and masochists across the PNW are beginning to ponder 'the Marathon.' Having "completed" it last year (as well as swearing I would never do it again) I am now looking to remove those quotation marks and clear my conscience of the whole event...

 

I've learned a lot and read even more. But, I have a few questions to which I have yet to receive any definitive answer. So, here it goes, a last ditch effort to rally the troops and get the answers I want.

 

N. Sister, Bowling Alley: What is the earliest it has been entirely snow free? With such a low snowpack this year is it unreasonable to aim for the first weekend in August?

 

S. Sister, N. Ridge: Which line is the best for the traverse?

Sisters_Marathon_057.jpg

Red Line: This is the most direct, but having taken it last year, is also very very very sketchy. The red line is pretty true to the route I climbed...any easier line that I missed in the blue box?

Green Line: Anyone taken this line for the traverse? About the yellow box, I have never been at the right place to say what is there? Is it just a transition to scree or does the glacier hang there?

 

Finally, what is the one item you forgot that you would never do the traverse again without?

 

No Spray please, I don't care how fast you've done the traverse...or how the N. Ridge isn't 4th class (that means you Wimsey)...just answers and honest beta from anyone who has done the Marathon.

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OK, I have not actually done the marathon, though I want to.

 

But, I have done pretty much every part of it, at least every part you ask about, so I will comment.

 

We did North on August 18, 2007. I don't really remember how great a snow year that was, but the Alley was bare. The first of August might not be too early .

 

Your red line in the pic looks like the line I took to do the north side of south Sis. The only hairy spot that I ran into was a traverse under some rock that had ice right up to the edge of it. I did not have crampons with me, or there would have been no problem.

 

You can read my TR's on both these at www.lebre.net under outdoor activities.

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As far as snow in the bowling alley, I went up there on July 1st in 2007 and while there was snow on the traverse, there was none in the bowling alley (that may have been a low snow year). This year was actually a pretty good snow year at Hood, and I'd assumed the sisters would be similar.

 

For South Sister, I think the green line is the easier one, but have only been part way up before bailing off (and getting to go around the South Sister on the PCT back to the south trailhead). Interested to hear what others say.

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Did the traverse last October 1. The Red Line on the North Ridge of SS is the most direct. The screefest descent from Middle leads directly to a great water source in a basin between Middle and South. This is convenient as it makes carrying lots of fluid unnecessary. From there, the obvious/fastest/ most reasonable(?) line is your red line: straight up the treed slopes below and then onto the North Ridge proper. Very direct. As for gear: Obviously, lugging around a helmet is a pain, but, as you know, it's needed here.

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N. Sister, Bowling Alley: What is the earliest it has been entirely snow free? With such a low snowpack this year is it unreasonable to aim for the first weekend in August?

The Bowling Alley is now entirely snow free, as is the southeast ridge. The Terrible Traverse is still under snow, it was about 250 feet across on firm corn snow. This was the only snow or ice on the route on 7/4/09.

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Good to know! Did you come back the S. E. ridge? How is the downclimbing at the top section of it?

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If anyone needs a partner for the traverse, let me know. I'm working up at Big Lake Youth Camp below Mt. Washington and have been eyeballing the sisters for a few weeks now...

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got back from N sister this weekend. Up the S.E. ridge, down the S. ridge and out along the moraines/edge of the hayden glacier. Were able to just do a standing, slow scree-slide down half of it.

 

like wimsey reported, bowling alley is entirely snow free. A tiny bit of ice or so about up in the far corner of it but not of importance for the route anyone would go up. Traverse was rock solid snow when we got there-difficult to get the spike in or imagine much in the way of arrest with a fall. donned crampons and I opted to wait for it to soften a bit as we didn't have a rope and pickets. Partner isn't one to sit still so to pass the time he borrowed my ax to secure himself while he chopped steps across with the other. entirely not necessary but passed the time and made it easier a lot easier for me to go across - second tool would have been nice. for me, that traverse was the crux, for him, downclimbing the top of the bowling alley. In this situation he was more comfortable on the snow and I on the rock.

 

No rockfall was occurring that I could see or hear except from where we kicked shit. Another group came up as we were on the summit, but they had only brought rock gear and no ice ax or crampons. rock gear up there seems like a water filter in the desert.. anyways, they were bummed they didnt have the proper gear so short of the summit and had thought it would be snow free from all the info they could find (didnt know of this thread I guess).

 

i can post pics if someone wants to see.

Edited by Water

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Wow, that tongue of rock in the middle of the snow traverse (pic 1) melted out a LOT in one week! Wonder what it looks like now.

 

Nice pictures, especially pic 2. Thanks

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