JohnGo Posted January 20, 2012 Share Posted January 20, 2012 Trip: North Sister - SE Ridge Date: 9/11/2011 Trip Report: Dates Sept 10-11, 2011 Team of 8 2 day climb Pole Creek / Soap Creek headwaters, SE Ridge Times 2 hours from trailhead to high camp at 6,800 at the upper reaches of Soap Creek 4:30am departure 6 or so hours to summit 5 hours to descend (yes, we were kinda slow) 1:45 hour hike out to cars Campsite There’s a very nice campsite with water and comfy sandy ground here at the head of Soap Creek at treeline. Beautiful, mossy lined rivulets drain the large tarn at the base of the Thayer Glacier. Casual hike in, left trailhead about 11, and had all afternoon to lounge at camp. This is a very nice area that sees very few visitors. Campsite GPS coordinates: NAD83 10T E600220 N 4891320 elevation 6940 feet. To get to this area, hike in from the Pole Creek trailhead to the Soap Creek crossing, then look for a faint climbers trail on the north side of the creek that departs from a campsite. Once at treeline, in about 1.3 miles, head left (south) for a few hundred meters and look for a yummy camp area. Route After 3 previous summits via the standard SW Ridge / Hayden Glacier route, I wanted to try something new for this climb. I opted for the SE Ridge. We found that bypassing the various gendarmes and knobby bits of the ridge was best done on the left (south) side. When in doubt, stay left. It was occasionally steep and somewhat exposed, but never got past class 3. The SE Ridge is seldom climbed, and now I know why, as it takes scree groveling to a whole new level. Even with a slightly longer approach, I feel the SW ridge / Hayden climb is faster and less tiring, as much of the hike is on fairly solid ground. The SE ridge is loose and “scree-dious” (scree + tedious, get it?) the entire way. In summary, I would NOT recommend this route in late season. Next time I will try the West side approach via the Obsidian trailhead and Arrowhead Lake camp. From the summit, even in late season, it looked like there was plenty of gradual snow on the way up from Arrowhead Lake, giving easy access to the SW ridge. Conditions The late spring 2011 snow dump left a 45 degree 1 pitch snow traverse for us on the so called “Terrible Traverse”, or “Dinner Plate” traverse, which is normally completely snow free by late August and a stroll over loose but manageable 2nd class scree. Happily we were able to bypass the snow completely by climbing up one side of it on scree, entering a delightful moat, traversing above the snow, then rapping (or careful downclimbing would work too) down the far side. For our team of 8, this was a way faster and safer way to get past the snow than actually crossing it. If you choose to use pro for the Bowling Alley: One ¾” cam (red Alien or Metolius is perfect) in the boulder in lower center of the Alley, then 1 double runner used to thread a chockstone near the top, about 10 feet left of the lower rap station. If you are comfy climbing 5.6 or above in boots, then you can likely solo and downclimb the Bowling Alley without a rope. One more Bowling Alley tip: Scramble up ledges 30 feet to a large flat spot at base of the alley; this is a safe place for whole team to wait away from rockfall and leave packs. If you do try this climb in late season (September) and are comfy climbing up and down the 4th class Bowling Alley, you need ZERO gear – leave the rope, harness, crampies, snow pro, rock pro, all of it - at home. If not, bring a harness, a light 50 M rope, one 3/4" cam, and a few runners. Overall, in no-snow conditions like this, I feel this route is about as hard/easy as Three Fingered Jack or Mt Washington. That is to say, pretty darn easy. Be smart with minimizing rockfall and be aware of who may be below you, and you should be fine. Note to self - Remind all team members that every rock on the mountain is trying to come loose and crush you at any moment. We had one scare where someone pulled on some vertically stacked "dinner plates", and caused a substantial rockfall. It was dam lucky no one was below. Overall, a rewarding climb with some good folks. I hope some readers find the following route photos useful. Thanks for Caleb Sattgast for many of the photos below. -John Ready to Rumble at the trailhead the schweeet view from camp Camp lounging the impressive east face of North Sister, view up from camp Dawn Patrol The irrepressible Linda. South Sister, Broken Top and Mt. Bachelor in the background Getting close to the top of the SE Ridge. Middle Sister in the background The first bowl, before the main snow traverse. In early season, this part is a pretty spicy steep snow traverse. Suzi in the moat above the "terrible traverse" More moat action Moat shenanigans Moat rap anchor - bollard and a picket Some VERY bizzaro colored turquoise lichen on rocks in the moat Looking down into the Bowling Alley from the rap anchor Me on top, yay! Collier glacier in the background Me rapping the Bowling Alley. This is pretty solid 4th class, so certainly downclimbable, but I had a rope, so I used it. My new favorite Iphone app: www.topomapsapp.com Very cool GPS combined with nice hi res topo maps; no cell coverage required to use. Gear Notes: see above Approach Notes: see above Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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