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Shane Rathbun

North Sister in winter

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Has anyone done the Sisters link up in winter? I'm more specifically interested in a winter ascent of North Sister.

 

Does anyone know where I can find some beta regarding North Sister in winter? Specifically conditions on the traverse and the bowling alley, I'm not so concerned about the approach.

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It all depends, the Traverse can be great or terrible depending on how much snow and how consolidated it is. I've not done it in winter, but I've read much the same about the Bowling Alley, it can be easy(ish) 70 deg snice or shit scary verglas. Won't know til your up there. The ski in will be long as hell unless you have a sled that can get you to the wilderness boundary (Pole Creek).

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We will have sleds, but not that kind of sled...

 

We will be out there from January 2-9 and attempt to tag all 3 of the Sisters. As part of our Denali training, we will be skiing and dragging sleds to Green Lake from Dutchman for our attempt on South Sister, and then moving our camp to the base of the Hayden Glacier to stage our attempts on Middle and North Sisters.

Edited by Shane Rathbun

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same as what rocky joe said.

that is plenty of time to get up in there and hayden will be a good spot to hit middle and north. Just hope the weather cooperates enough-would not want to be high on N. Sister in a whiteout.

 

winter pictures:

http://www.traditionalmountaineering.org/Photos_Nsisterwin.htm

 

i have previously found a first-hand account somewhere on the web--you'll have to search.

 

the traverse is what it is--depends entirely upon the quality of the snow. If it is in good shape, good conditions, you can probably just walk across it fine with self belay--or running belay with a few pickets across it. In typical climbing time the traverse is marked by shaded snow as opposed to much of the prior SE ridge being snowfree.. for winter i suspect you'll know it is the traverse just cause it gets a bit steeper and you're immediately under the summit block prior to that I think you'll be traversing a semi-steep snow slope once you top-out on the S/SE ridge from hayden. the bowling alley -- i would hope it is not verglas or fresh fluffy powder. i would guess at this point in winter it will be well covered in snow, you'll just have to see the consistency.

 

of the 3, doing more or less 'standard routes', north will present the most challenge for navigation and risk on the upper part.

 

good luck, would love to hear a follow-up or see pictures if conditions allow.

 

 

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Sounds like a blast! So many great lines to ski in there but such a pain to get to in winter. Some of those lines would be outrageous in stable conditions.

 

PS it is nuking up there right now. Be prepared for a beatdown.

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I'm thinking about heading straight for North Sister first to try to catch the end of the weather window, what do you think?

 

Will post a trip report and pictures when I get back...

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My experience has been there is no solid way to forecast conditions up there unless there is massive high pressure parked over the region.

 

Just show up and be flexible with your plans. You can hansel and gretel your way into Green Lakes basin in any conditions pretty easily. It can be pretty exposed and unpleasant at treeline in the north/middle sister area with t-shirt weather at dutchman.

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like iain said you can't predict up there really well..

 

if you can do anything Wx related, move up your trip start now. monday and tuesday could be high over-cast with occasional flurry, not bad at all. i find esp. mountain predictions to be terribly tenuous, changing even the day-of. spent a good 36hrs in the tent at crater lake a month ago in rain and 33 degrees after the forecast changed at the last minute. below is a general trend as of now. Keep in mind weds-thurs system could come on tues night, or get pushed to the north or south, or end up more like thurs-mid-day to fri. etc etc.

 

bring extra headlamp batteries and a damn good book/music/vids/game/cards/masturbatory fantasy/conversation with your partners.. you got many hours of darkness to spend in those 7 days..

 

LONG TERM...SATURDAY NIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY. THE PACIFIC NW WILL BE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF AN UPPER LEVEL RIDGE THROUGH THE PERIOD. HOWEVER...THE RIDGE IS NOT VERY STRONG OR AMPLIFIED AND IT WILL BE SUSCEPTIBLE TO ANY UPPER LEVEL DISTURBANCES THAT COULD BRING PRECIPITATION. A DRY FORECAST IS IN STORE FOR SATURDAY NIGHT THROUGH SUNDAY. ACCORDING TO THE GFS...A SHORTWAVE MOVING SOUTH ALONG THE FRONT SIDE OF THE RIDGE WILL BRING A SLIGHT CHANCE TO A CHANCE OF SNOW SUNDAY NIGHT AND MONDAY. THE GFS IS FARTHER WEST AND STRONGER WITH THE SHORTWAVE THAN THE ECMWF AND CANADIAN. FOR NOW...WILL KEEP LOW POPS BUT IT COULD BE DROPPED ENTIRELY IF GFS BECOMES MORE IN LINE WITH THE OTHER MODELS. ANY THREAT OF PRECIPITATION ON MONDAY NIGHT IS MINIMAL. ON TUESDAY...GFS ADVERTISES A WEAK DISTURBANCE BRINGING A SLIGHT CHANCE TO A CHANCE OF SNOW. ONCE AGAIN...THE GFS SHOWS A BETTER POTENTIAL FOR SNOW THAN THE OTHER MODELS. THE ECMWF AND GFS ARE IN SIMILAR AGREEMENT WITH A MOIST WARM FRONT MOVING ACROSS WASHINGTON AND NORTHERN OREGON WEDNESDAY NIGHT AND THURSDAY. IF MODELS VERIFY...THIS COULD BRING DECENT AMOUNTS OF SNOW OVER THE MOUNTAINS WITH A POTENTIAL FOR A WINTER MIX AT THE LOWEST ELEVATIONS. JOHNSON

 

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You said you will be tagging all three of the Sisters, I decided to mention this was almost done back in Feb of 1969 - Three friends and I started at Dutchmans Flat, skied above Todd Lake and then around the South ridge of Broken Top down to Green Lakes on the first day, 75 pound packs - Don't make a kick turn and fall downhill, its a bitch to get back up - Camped at lakes, and next morning off to climb Broken Top - It was a nice romp, with only the knife edge ridge to summit troubling - One eye down one side and the other eye on other side - Back to camp with a nice ski down - Next day was South Sister, and It was a nice long up hill ski - Three of us left skies at Red Ridge, while Gary Grimm skied to summit and back down - He did a nice forward flip, landed it, but it was not on purpose - He was the only one with cross country skies - They came from Norway which was the only place to get them then - We had army mountain skies, mutter - Three day, was travel to Chambers Lake, which was the only time we had bad weather, and it was a hard wind which made putting up the two tents a problem - The next day was a "rest day" to fix some equipment and get in some fun sking in the open areas - Its the 6th day, and we head up to the col between Middle and North - Set up camp and the young bucks, full of energy decided to climb Middle - I offered to start cooking evening meal - They zipped up and down - We are camped in the area where Willi Unsoeld once told me, they were hit with the worst weather he ever was in - Next day The other three are heading to climb the North, but I wanted to do the Middle - It was one of the best days I ever had in the mountains, no wind, only the sound of the crampons crunching into the snow - The summit was reached with no problems and I hated to leave - When I got back to tents, I started to pack up things - Soon Gary Grimm wandered in - He had turned back as his feet were starting to worry him, and he was concerned about frostbite - We continued to pack up, and eventually Dale Moon and Steve Schafers returned, with the news they got to the traverse, and the snow and ice conditions were too marginal with the tools of that time - Knowing thier abilities, it was a smart decision to make, though hard - Soon things were packed up and we had the ski of our life down to White Branch Creek - Decided to follow the creek down to where we we were able to just walk up a little ridge and we we on the Dead House Grade of McKenzie Pass Road - Its was all downhill to White Branch Youth Camp where a friend waited for us - While others had skied though the Sisters before, nobody had ever tried to also climb them - While missing out on the North, and real attempt had been made - Wish you best of luck with the weather, and success on your journey.

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You said you will be tagging all three of the Sisters, I decided to mention this was almost done back in Feb of 1969 - Three friends and I started at Dutchmans Flat, skied above Todd Lake and then around the South ridge of Broken Top down to Green Lakes on the first day, 75 pound packs - Don't make a kick turn and fall downhill, its a bitch to get back up - Camped at lakes, and next morning off to climb Broken Top - It was a nice romp, with only the knife edge ridge to summit troubling - One eye down one side and the other eye on other side - Back to camp with a nice ski down - Next day was South Sister, and It was a nice long up hill ski - Three of us left skies at Red Ridge, while Gary Grimm skied to summit and back down - He did a nice forward flip, landed it, but it was not on purpose - He was the only one with cross country skies - They came from Norway which was the only place to get them then - We had army mountain skies, mutter - Three day, was travel to Chambers Lake, which was the only time we had bad weather, and it was a hard wind which made putting up the two tents a problem - The next day was a "rest day" to fix some equipment and get in some fun sking in the open areas - Its the 6th day, and we head up to the col between Middle and North - Set up camp and the young bucks, full of energy decided to climb Middle - I offered to start cooking evening meal - They zipped up and down - We are camped in the area where Willi Unsoeld once told me, they were hit with the worst weather he ever was in - Next day The other three are heading to climb the North, but I wanted to do the Middle - It was one of the best days I ever had in the mountains, no wind, only the sound of the crampons crunching into the snow - The summit was reached with no problems and I hated to leave - When I got back to tents, I started to pack up things - Soon Gary Grimm wandered in - He had turned back as his feet were starting to worry him, and he was concerned about frostbite - We continued to pack up, and eventually Dale Moon and Steve Schafers returned, with the news they got to the traverse, and the snow and ice conditions were too marginal with the tools of that time - Knowing thier abilities, it was a smart decision to make, though hard - Soon things were packed up and we had the ski of our life down to White Branch Creek - Decided to follow the creek down to where we we were able to just walk up a little ridge and we we on the Dead House Grade of McKenzie Pass Road - Its was all downhill to White Branch Youth Camp where a friend waited for us - While others had skied though the Sisters before, nobody had ever tried to also climb them - While missing out on the North, and real attempt had been made - Wish you best of luck with the weather, and success on your journey.

 

 

Was waiting for this story too show up on here somewhere! Thanks Gary!

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Dale Moon...where is that cat now? I assume he's still alive and well. He has certainly had his share of "adventures" on Hood as well.

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