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[TR] Sinister Peak - North Face 8/14/2016

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Trip: Sinister Peak - North Face


Date: 8/14/2016


Trip Report:

Despite its ominous sounding name, Sinister is a very attractive peak with a beautiful steep snow route directly up its north face. John ("Juan") Sharp and I tackled it over three big days this past weekend.


We met up in Bellevue early Saturday morning, made even earlier for me after watching a surprisingly entertaining GnR concert the night before. Axl's still got it. Thankfully John drove. We were heading up the trail from the Suiattle shortly after 8 a.m.


The approach was long and hot but at least there was a lot of brush, bugs, bees, and blisters. John is rather twisted, this would be his third time up Bachelor Creek in 14 months. Thankfully my first. Honestly though, my initial reaction to the the trail is that the schwack is a little overstated and the length is understated. Staying on old tread through the slide alder and brush and crossing the log at ~4100' worked well for us.


Cresting the ridge above Cub Lake was glorious and we finally got views that paid off in spades:



We were hoping to make the Dome-Chickamin col for camp but rolling into the Itswoot Ridge bivy spots at 6:00 was good enough. View of Dome from camp:



Sunday was a long day. We had relatively easy travel up to the Dome-Chickamin col and then started down the Chickamin with great views across to our route:



We belayed across a thin bergschrund at the top of the Chickamin and then spent quite a bit of time weaving and dead-ending through crevasses and ice falls to get to the flats below the north face. Looking back at the cracked out chick:



As we rested and got ready for the north face, we noticed a lonely bear wandering around the glacier we had just descended and wondered if he was going to complicate our return. Hey buddy:



Not much we could do about Yogi so we started up the face. A couple big simul pitches including one of nice tool sticks in easy ice got us to a moat about halfway up the face. A short mid-fifth rock pitch got us past the moat although we likely could have traversed a bit climbers left and maybe stayed on some thin snow bridges. After that it was cruiser calf burning steep snow up the upper face all the way to the top. Looking down on the upper face:



Great views while on route. Gunsight looking rad:



Dome looking domey:



The summit was excellent and we relaxed a bit, read the entertaining register, and pointed out all the places we had been to or wanted to go to. Self promotion on top:



The descent off Sinister was sketchy. In retrospect we probably could have found better beta and known to keep following the ridge all the way to a single rap to the col, but ended up rapping the "dirty 3rd class gully" off the south side of the west ridge that Beckey mentions. Three chossy loose raps down the gully. Ugh. No bueno. Coming off the Dome-Sinister col was also difficult with a belay across an awkward sliver of snow over a gaping bergshrund. And we still had to avoid the damn bear waiting in ambush for us on the Chickamin. Turns out the bear was long gone and we just had a long slog back to camp.


Looking back on Sinister on the way out:



I didn't want to orphan Dome so I tagged it on the way back through the col. The traverse to the true summit was unexpectdly exciting after a long day on the move:



The return to camp was much less exciting as we started to feel the miles in our feet and knees. We ended up needing headlamps for the last hour or so.


Monday we woke up late and had a long walk out.


Parting view of Itswoot Ridge with an overly friendly marmot checking out our camp spot:



And apparently a trip report with John isn't complete unless you include a pic of lower leg carnage. We kicked up a wasp nest on the hike out ~4 miles from the trailhead and each got stung a bunch. Two days later my ankles are cankles and itch like crazy:



Gear Notes:

We had a few nuts, 2 screws, 2 pickets, 2 tools, and 60m of rope to get off Sinister.


Approach Notes:

Bergshrunds below the Dome-Chickamin col and below the Dome-Sinister col will become problematic very soon. Actually the entire Chickamin Glacier is going to be problematic pretty soon.

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Wow, that is a monster of a three day trip! It was pretty hot, but at least you got stung a few times.


The bear sighting is interesting, we saw a dead deer right below the col leading to the Dome Glacier back in 2003. Looked to have died of exposure and wasn't eaten. I guess it is an animal trail thru the col? Crazy.

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I felt bad for the bear, he looked lost and I think he would have trouble navigating the crevasses back to terra firma. Poor guy is probably going to wind up in the bottom of a crack or starve to death. We were likely his only food source up there and I didn't feel like volunteering to sustain him.


Jason, I was introduced to some "Jasonisms" on the trip. The bee stings hurt but at least they will itch for a week. We also saw the choss dawg calling card taking summit pron to a new level.


Here's some more photos courtesy of John.


Der Nordwand:



Starting up from ~6800:



Mid face:






Signing in:


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Jason, I had to stop often but at least my transitions were slow.


I'll add that this was a really "full-value" trip with a fun and very solid partner. Also, between June 2015 and this past weekend, and even compared to the third weekend of this July, the climber's trail from about 3,600' to the base of the slide has improved considerably. We added a few strips of surveyors tape to help the cause.


As for the ice bear, in looking at a topo, it may have come up from the Dana Glacier. It headed S/SW across the upper Chickamin at maybe 8,000' to 8,200'. I can't figure out how it could have gotten around Dome heading S because the back side of Dome looks so steep. We hope he didn't fall into a crack but were relieved to not find him waiting for us as we retraced our steps up to the D-C col. As we discussed our "what-if-he-attacks" scenarios while on the route, Dana reminded me that he (Dana) is a former collegiate runner. This did not bode well for Juan, aka "Captain Slow Twitch."

Edited by Juan Sharp

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I wonder if Juan is suffering from some early dementia, going up Bachelor Creek three times in the last year. Pretty strange story with the bear, I was sure you guys were making that up, partially due to witnessing John pranking random hikers about bears being close by. "Hey, watch out for the bear up there" 9_9


Good job on the climb, great photos.

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Fond memories of that climb, mountain, and gorgeous area. Thanks for the report and pics!

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It's a cool route,reminiscent of the North Faces of Buckner, Shuksan and Maude, with Maude probably being the easiest of the four.


If you like these types of snow and ice routes then go try Stanley Peak, North Face, Kahl Route in Kootenay National Park, BC. Stunning climb.

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Awesome neighbor! Would still like to get out with ya some time!


That is crazy about the bear! What the hell was he doing up there...keeping cool? Great TR.

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were so lucky to be able to have these secluded peaks without seeing people for days. is rare in these days. looks as it doesn't get climbed much. nice job

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That's quite the cc.com hall of fame summit register page!


The Jason-isms remind me of an old climbing partner who like to say things like, "If we had some bread, we could have some peanut butter sandwiches, if we had some peanut butter" during unplanned bivies.

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