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dberdinka

[TR] Twin Sisters Range - Green Creek Circuit 6/22/2013

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Trip: Twin Sisters Range - Green Creek Circuit

 

Date: 6/22/2013

 

Trip Report:

 

You could travel thousands of miles further and you could hike days on end but I’m not sure you would find a place really anymore wild than the Green Creek Valley. After a long hiatus I finally returned to this unique environment and found it little changed. No trails, no flagging, no signs of passage of any sort, just the whispering wind, the roar of the river and the clatter of stone fall.

 

 

gccircuit_11_of_12_.jpg

 

 

After approaching on the evening of the solstice I spent the following day linking up a half-dozen summits that more or less ring the Green Creek Glacier. I found this to be an absolutely classic traverse with super fun climbing on sold rock, multiple glacier crossing and steep snow climbing. If traveling unencumbered across exposed, moderately-technical terrain feeds your soul I highly recommend it.

 

Access to the area has only gotten more wild with the recent debris flows off the toe of the Deming Glacier that scoured the riverbed and took out almost every tree crossing except one located slightly upstream from the parking lot. The trail is in excellent shape and wanders through some of the most pristine and beautiful old growth you can find. After leaving the trail the bushwhack is still full-on with continuous brush, slippery log crossings over a raging Green Creek and a final shwack through dense thickets of fir trees. If you just keep motoring you’ll only have an hour or two of suffering. If you pussyfoot around you’ll never make it. Detailed Approach Notes Here.

 

 

Middle Fork post debris flow

 

river2.jpg

 

 

On the go by 4:30 am Saturday where I ascended the enjoyable 4th and low-5th class rock of the Green Creek Arete to reach the headwaters of the Sisters creek. Slogging upwards through cloud I passed over the Sisters Glacier and ascended the Northeast Ridge of the South Twin. Via the Green Creek this linkup is a classic and supremely scenic way to climb the peak.

 

 

Green Creek Arete in foreground

 

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Views from Northeast Ridge of South Twin

 

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I scrambled down snow and rock into the basin under the north side of Skookum Peak. The Northeast ridge of Skookum has a reputation as an excellent, albeit short route that starts from a notch with a small but slender pinnacle named Jaw’s Tooth. Rather than making the short scramble to the notch I extended the climb significantly by following clean 5th class slabs and splitter cracks on the Northwest Face of Jaw’s Tooth before dropping into the notch and finishing on the Northeast Ridge. This is by all means the best technical climb in the range with adequate length, really excellent rock, good exposure, sustained difficulty and two great summits.

 

 

Jaw's Tooth (5.6) and Skookum (5.4) with route marked

 

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Slabs on the northwest face of Jaw's Tooth

 

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The impeccable north ridge of Skookum

 

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Looking out to Cinderella, Little Sister and Hayden

 

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From Skookum I scrambled down the chossy south ridge before dropping into the basin below the north side of Hayden Peak. Some nice looking rock around here but instead I booted up the steep and snowy north face to the summit. Loose rock and sketchy shrunds led directly down the SE face (would have been better to descend at least halfway down the E Ridge).

 

 

Northeast arete of Hayden looked nice, north face to right

 

gccircuit_6_of_12_.jpg

 

 

The Northwest Face of Little Sister is an impressive looming wall about 800’ tall sitting at the head of a narrow valley ringed by steep walls. Up close it appeared to consist of much better rock than I had expected. Two curving ribs define the left-hand side of the face. I followed the left-most rib and once again found generally great 4th class climbing on highly featured slabs. The rib topped out near a col where one could easily drop down onto the Green Creek Glacier. I continued up the best 3rd class climbing you’ll ever find to the summit. In retrospect the right-hand rib was steeper, more direct and looked to be great climbing.

 

 

littlesister_export_1_of_1_.jpg

 

 

A quick and loose descent down the south face led to a col and the Green Creek Glacier. From here Cinderella would be a short scramble but I was intent on climbing the mysterious and supposedly “classic” East Ridge. This is one of the biggest features in the range, over half-a-mile long and gaining almost 2000’ of elevation. After a long glissade I found the climbing to be not entirely classic with lots of blocky scrambling separated by a few steep, exposed and looser-than-I-liked 5th class faces. Enjoyable at times but I wouldn’t repeat it. Ten-and-a-half hours after leaving camp I stumbled back to it feeling pretty worked.

 

 

Looking back across the Green Creek Glacier from Cinderella

 

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East Face of Skookum and Jaw's Tooth with S Twin in Background

 

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GPS track using Gaia App before battery died

 

green_creek_circuit.JPG

 

 

From mid/late-June until late-July the rock climbing should be snow free while the extensive talus between peaks is still covered. Numerous variations could be made and the climbing is easy enough that bivi gear could be carried over. Next time I’ll probably skip Hayden Peak and the East Ridge of Cinderella and stick to the really classic climbing.

 

The Twin Sisters Range was formed by a slab of mantle rock pushing up through the crust of the earth. The rock is Dunite and consists primarily of the mineral Olivine. Olivine is a beautiful crystal green and it is only the outer surface of the rock that weathers to the gritty reddish-tan color so predominate in the range. If you could just sandblast off a couple millimeters of rock you’d be left with an entire mountain range that looked like it was made of Kryptonite.

 

 

Split boulder of Olivine

 

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The Green Creek Valley is the habitat of the last remaining herd of Pacific Northwest Forest Octopi. Their camouflaging skills are equal to that of their ocean brethren. Generally docile and content to feed on smaller mammals they should still be given a wide berth.

 

 

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Random photo of some other untrodden summit

 

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Gear Notes:

40-50m rope

10'-12’ of webbing for Jaws Tooth rappel point

Some nuts and a handful of cams to 2”

crampons and ice axe

 

 

Approach Notes:

From parking lot walk up road ~100' then move to river. Log crossing should be obvious. Follow trail ~ 2 miles and leave at 2700' switchback. In early-season consider crossing raging Green Creek before running out of forest and potential safe log crossings.

Edited by dberdinka

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Wow, what an amazing area! Its funny, I have been going over the old trip reports from that area (yours and a few others) and I will take this as a sign that I need to get out there soon.

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Excellent TR, DB. Years ago, like the mid 80s when the approach road was open, I did a South Twin to Skookum scramble, approaching from between N and S Twins, and always thought a full traverse of the range would be a great trip. I can see from your TR it still would be. It's a magical place, imo. Thanks, Wally - another AST refugee. :-)

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I've always felt like the range has been unfairly passed over in the various select guides, but perhaps that is a good thing.

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Thanks for adding to the list Darin, looks like some fantastic climbing, esp. the South Twin and Skookum portions of your trip. Tthat is a huge amount of terrain to cover in a day, very cool! Loved the images as well, we were admiring the Range from Sherman on Saturday and talking about going back in there. But, as you mentioned, admission to the valley doesn't come free. Some classic 'shwacking to get in there.

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Really great trip Darin. Probably the best TR all year (oh, excepet for your Utah TR). Did you see the cables and batteries on the NE ridge of S Twin? There must have been a lookout up there. I have really been wanting to ski the N face of Hayden. I have also been curious of the E ridge of Cinderella. Any pictures looking south from Little Sister.

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Hey Ben. No photos that really show anything. Those lower peaks were swamped in clouds most of the day.

 

I reimported all the images with much better quality. First time the export process I used seemed to do the reverse of sharpening.

 

Maybe I'm biased but I still can't believe how good so much of the climbing was and how much more possibility there is. Definitely struck me as another classic outing in the Nooksack watershed.

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Dr. B stikes again. Any Satsquatch back in the Green Creek Valley? Nice job D!, I bet you know what your little Red Headed Buddy is thinking?

 

Banner trip report.

 

Cheers,

 

Matt

 

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Some friends and I did the South Sister from green creek a couple years ago and it was definitely an epic bushwhack through amazing old growth. Nice to know there are still places you can go to be alone. Good job!

J

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Thanks Darin, I've always appreciated your chronicles of that range, I really need to come up there some time.

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Loving the Twin Sisters psyche!

 

One of my best solo days in the mtns was an ascent of W Ridge of N Twin, descend south gullies, up and over the N Ridge of S Twin to the Sisters Glacier, NE Ridge to the summit of S Twin, W Ridge descent. Highly recommended.

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Seeing how everyone seems to be getting out into the Green Creek drainage, I didn't want to be left out so I made a quick and lazy day trip through the area (I also want to add to the stoke, which is well deserved). It's truly a wild place. I'm looking forward to getting back out there when I actually have some time to climb something. Thank you dberdinka for getting the word out on this place.

 

Also, I apologize for the crappy pictures, I took them with my phone.

 

Here's a map of the route I took into and out of the area. I might mention that my descent path from high on the ridge limited the amount of bushwacking I had to do on my way out. It might make for a decent approach alternative but I'm guessing it probably still takes longer than subjecting oneself to the shrubbery. But what can I say, I'm a sucker for the high route.

green_creek_map.jpg

 

 

The bushwack wasn't all that bad. I think it took me around two hours from where I left the trail to where I exited on the talus.

from_valley.jpg

 

 

Baker always looking good

Baker9.jpg

 

 

View of the Twin sisters range from the ridge (sisters divide?)

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Southern part of the range

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Looking down into Green creek from the ridge

Looking_down1.jpg

 

 

Lake Wiseman

lake1.jpg

Edited by jordansahls

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If I were to head out that way and had a choice of twin 8mmx30m ropes or a single 9.8x70 what would you recommend? I think my objectives will be similar to yours but with a partner.

 

Thanks for all the beta and the stoke to get out close to home.

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If you're comfortable simulclimbing on 4th or low-5th class terrain a single 8mm x 30m rope would be great with the exception of the rap off of Jaw's Tooth which is probably 60'-65'?

 

Ben downclimbed it as well and found it sketchy like I did. Basically you have to ooze around this tall, seemingly detached, pillar on a sloping ledge with a 1000' of air down the east face.

 

So bring the double 8s or a skinnier pull cord if you got one. Or better yet just bring the single 30m rope and belay the downclimb....

Edited by dberdinka

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Thank you! I owe you a beer for the beta. Should I leave one stashed somewhere in the Green Creek drainage for your next outing?

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