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ilias

first ascent [TR] Twin Sisters Range - Little Sister - North Face - 5.4 3p (FA) 7/24/2016

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Trip: Twin Sisters Range - Little Sister - North Face - 5.4 3p (FA)

 

Date: 7/24/2016

 

Trip Report:

Last weekend, Lisa and I went into the Twin Sisters range to check out the area. It was our first time there and we were inspired by recent beautiful photos from the area and the mention of many moderate routes in the new guidebook. On Saturday, the weather was much worse than predicted and we arrived at camp near Green Creek soaked from bushwhacking through underbrush. After looking up at the hills around us covered in clouds, we decided to set up camp.

 

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As the afternoon wore on, the weather improved a bit and we climbed Green Creek Arete. This route has some fun pitches towards the top, but is a lot of work to descend back down. It would make much more sense to climb this route and then continue on the north side of the ridge to climb the South Twin as part of a traverse of the range or something, rather than descending back down to Green Creek. Starting the descent:

20160723_173715.jpg

 

For Sunday, we wanted to head up the glacier and go climb something up there. To get up the glacier, you don't just go straight up the drainage to the base of the glacier, as there are cliff bands there that would make ascending difficult. Instead, we scrambled up slabs to the left and then traversed onto the glacier fairly high up:

 

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The views of Baker in this area are gorgeous:

 

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Up on the glacier, we ran into Darin and his partner, who were off exploring some unnamed peak in the area. At this point, we were still deciding which line we were gonna climb. Darin pointed out some lines on the N/NE side of the Little Sister that as far as we knew, had not been climbed and looked to have some good rock. So Lisa and I figured we'd check it out.

 

We ended up climbing approximately this line, which as far as I can tell is likely a first ascent:

 

little_sister_topo.jpg

 

It consisted of three pitches of climbing up to 5.4 in difficulty. The rock was remarkably solid with remarkably little loose rock strewn on the route for something that hadn't been climbed. There are many possible variations on this route on both the right and left.

 

P1 (5.4, 40m): Start on the slabs just left of the top of the snow finger on the N face. These slabs are criss-crossed with cracks everywhere and can take all kinds of pro. One could follow the slabs further left to the Arete, but I wanted a bit of more vertical climbing. I found this by going straight up to where the slab hits a bit of a headwall. The headwall was very blocky, and while vertical, was probably only about 5.4. After the few moves up that, there was a few more slabby moves until I reached a belay just below another steep section. Looking back from near start of P1:

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Coming up on the headwall, with some easy blocky moves just left of center:

20160724_102943.jpg

 

P2 (5.4, 40m): This pitch started up another steep bit (5.4) through a bit of offwidth/chimney-type terrain, then you go up a big easy corner and then eases off into some lower angle slabs and scrambling up and right to reach a nice belay ledge. Looking down from P2:

20160724_110246.jpg

Higher on P2:

20160724_110457.jpg

Belay ledge with a view:

20160724_111548.jpg

 

P3 (5.0, 70m): From the belay ledge, scramble/climb straight up slabs to the summit, probably mostly 3rd/4th class but the exposure made it feel like some 5.0 climbing. From the belay ledge, our 60m rope did not reach the rap anchors near the summit and we simuled for ~10m. Looking up at P3 towards the summit:

20160724_113113.jpg

Lisa following up P3:

20160724_115334.jpg

 

Descent: We rappelled from the slung anchors at the summit back down the N Face. After that 1 30m rappel, we scrambled down a bit of a corner system to the ledge where P2 started. From there, we scrambled down skier's left and traversed across a deep gully onto the NW ridge. We did another 30m rappel here from a horn we slung and that brought us down close to the snow.

 

Nice views at the top:

20160724_121001.jpg

 

Gear Notes:

We had a single rack 0.3-2 and it was plenty. The glacier is mostly low angle and could be done without crampons/axes if the snow is not too firm, though we had both and found them helpful. The last bit of snow up the snow finger to the base of our route on the Little Sister was steep enough that I definitely wanted an axe, but this could potentially be bypassed by getting onto the rock lower.

 

Approach Notes:

Here's our approach track:

track.png

 

The crossing near the cars is on some narrow logs lashed together with thin cords by climbers:

 

20160723_082332.jpg

 

The climber's trail after the Elbow Lake turnoff is copiously marked with blue ribbons and reflective blue diamond markers on trees. It's probably the best marked climber's path I've ever seen anywhere, someone put a lot of work into it. However, the last section just before you get to the Green Creek crossing is still quite overgrown and a bit scwhacky. This might improve over time as the area seems to be getting more popular (we saw 2 other parties in there).

Edited by ilias

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Nice work! Glad to see the rock definitely did not suck. Always great to see other parties enjoying the Green Creek.

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Thanks! Definitely a cool area and looks like it has a lot more untapped potential. I'll definitely have to go in there and explore some more :)

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