Ascent to North Sister-Terrible Traverse on 2015-07-29

Climber: Mark Smith

Others in Party:Austin D. Smith
Date:Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:North Sister - Terrible Traverse
    Elevation:9830 ft / 2996 m
    Remaining Elevation:255 ft / 77 m (5% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

We approached on the Obsidian Trail which is far more interesting and scenic that Pole Creek. However, the Obsidian Trail requires a pass available only on-line. We had some difficulty obtaining a permit for the dates we wanted since we waited close to the climb date to apply.

In approaching the Collier Glacier we came upon a flat snow field that started to crack. Evidently it was melting by day and pooling water below the snow. After circumnavigating the snow we crossed the Collier Glacier fairly high up. Inadvertently we crossed a snow bridge over a long, arcing crevasse, although this wasn't apparent until we could view the route from the south ridge of North Sister.

All went well until the spot known as the Terrible Traverse. Given the low snow pack of 2014/15 and the warmest June on record, along with a very warm July, the Terrible Traverse would have melted by the end of July. Right? Wrong! A 40' width of the traverse was thin snow or thin ice. The ice was probably refreeze from melting snow above. We were unwilling to cross. One solution might be to use the mote along the cliff wall to work pass the snow, then rappel into the middle of the traverse to continue on rock. Perhaps within a week the traverse will have melted off. However, the refrozen water from melting snow may persist for some time. The snow on the traverse is visible from the road if you know where to look. The Bowling Ally appeared to be fully melted. Since the troublesome snow is just about the last snow clinging to the west face, it would be reasonable to assume that the west face should appear snow-free if you hope to complete the traverse as a rock-only scramble.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5750 ft / 1751 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5750 ft / 1751 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Tent Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5400 ft / 1645 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 5050 ft / 1540 m; Extra: 350 ft / 106m
    Loss on way in:350 ft / 106 m
    Route:South Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Obsidian Trailhead  4780 ft / 1456 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5400 ft / 1645 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 5050 ft / 1540 m; Extra: 350 ft / 106m
    Gain on way out:350 ft / 106 m
    End Trailhead:4780 ft / 1456 m

This page has been served 510 times since 2005-01-15.

Copyright © 1987-2021 by All Rights Reserved. Questions/Comments/Corrections? See the Contact Page Terms of Service