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Dylan Colon

North Sister Conditions?

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A couple of my friends and I were planning on trying to climb North Sister on Sunday (weather permitting) via the SW ridge from Pole Creek. We were planning on bringing a few pickets and a light rock rack, but would it be a good idea to also have some screws this time of year (I haven't been on that mountain before so I don't really know what to expect)? Also, has anyone been up there lately and can tell me what it's like?

 

Full disclosure: I haven't done a snow climb where I've had to rope up before, and I'm thinking I will do most of the leading this weekend. That said, as far as my experience climbing snow goes, I've done a few unroped snow climbs up to ~45 degrees or so, the south side of Hood for example felt completely casual and I am confident I could climb considerably steeper ground just fine in the right conditions (I have ice tools, and have climbed vertical waterfall ice on toprope many times, though not particularly recently). I'm also pretty confident on exposed and loose rock, having climbed Washington and Three-Fingered Jack (with rope and gear) last summer in dry conditions without undue difficulty, as well as vastly more technically difficult, but safer, stuff at Smith.

 

Thanks in advance for any beta!

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I did see that, thanks, I was wondering if anyone had been up there more recently, otherwise that's what I was assuming I'd be in for. It was those pictures which made me decide a rope would be mandatory given my experience and comfort level.

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Ok, I have an actual question.

 

Weather forecasts look relatively stable for Sunday, as far as I can tell right now, but really warm.

 

If it isn't going to freeze at night, I assume the whole thing is best avoided? Or is that relatively acceptable?

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i've been on it when due to both start time, then encountering a group of 10 crab-walking mazamas who moved as if they'd had no experience on anything other than hood were in front of us... we were on the traverse (and especially the short one before the main one) where it felt quite iffy given how soft the snow was getting. we aborted. But you don't necessarily need a low freeze for the snow up there to 'set' and harden. Just get on and done with the shiz before much sun hits it--its on the west side so you have a good number of hours before the sun hits there (noon-1pm?)--you could use google earth time of day/sun cover and check to make completely sure, useful tool.

 

158198m.jpg

 

this is retreat from the (still shaded) traverse. The area the guys are on was getting really sloppy quick, we knew the time to top out and come back would take too long for our group to make us feel ok about going back on that. And the traverse is a wee tiny bit steeper than this section, fwiw. It was too soft to protect.

 

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The softness of the traverse and the bowling alley ice can vary widely, even day to day. It's west-facing though, so you get a bit more time before it really softens up. I'd expect some soft traversing, and there's usually some rockfall to keep you moving. A lot of people put in that traverse really high, which I think can be more difficult for newer climbers even if it's less exposed.

 

I would absolutely bail if the Mazamas have any N. Sister climb scheduled. They are a junk show on anything with exposure or requiring even basic technical ability beyond snow hiking. I topped out on the east side many years back to an 8-pack of them on the NE shoulder after they climbed Early Morning Couloir. The looks in their eyes was abject terror and their "leader" was having trouble getting them to do anything, never mind climb the last pinnacle. I'm not sure what ended up happening. Maybe they're still up there.

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I summitted yesterday via the SW ridge. We encountered good firm snow on the Terrible Traverse and alpine ice in the Bowling Alley, hitting the top of Prouty at about 12:30 (late because the aforementioned technical bits were harder and longer than expected, and we pitched everything out). On the way down the Bowling Alley was still firm, but the traverse had become very soft, but at that point there were good steps kicked into it by previous climbers going both ways, making it not so bad.

 

Things are still pretty well covered, but are also rapidly melting out, and there was one section on the traverse that was a nasty mixture of snow and loose rock.

 

Overall it was a good learning experience and I hope to be faster and more efficient on future climbing trips. I'll post a few pictures in the next few days.

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Would appreciate any photos you have Dylan! Heading up there on Thursday night summit by 7 ish. Approach/Route?

 

Cheers!

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The bowling alley was good solid rime, would probably take a screw in a couple places, and the rap sling was melted out and usable.

 

DSCN1747_1280x961_.jpgDSCN1744_1280x960_.jpg

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