Ascent of South Twin on 2012-08-25

Climber: Eric Noel

Others in Party:Edward Earl
Craig Willis
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, August 25, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:South Twin
    Elevation:7000 ft / 2133 m

Ascent Trip Report

I got a bit of a late start. Started hiking up the road with intent to camp in the basin at 4880'. Lots of logging personnel out and about. After an hour or so a guy with a logging truck stopped and offered me a ride. Hooray. I got a ride up to the wooden sign for Twin Sisters at about 2800'. No space in his cab so I had to stand on the metal step and hold onto the door handle from the outside through the window. It was only about a mile or so and less than a 1000' gain eliminated but this was an unexpected surprise which really lifted my mood. I continued on hiking the roads and making decent time up until the end of bikeable road at 3300'. Here the road continues as a fairly easy path through the brush on the overgrown road until 3600'.

At that point, the overgrown road switchbacks left and I started following flags. But I soon lost the bootpath within 15 minutes of that switchback. I was doing a straight bushwhack now and while the brush was not horrid it was not fun. I continued like this for an hour. I think that I traversed too low below the boulder fields and then was caught underneath steep terrain too far E and S. I must have crossed over the bootpath at some point for that to be the case. As I was solo, bushwhacking and off-route. Actually, I did not know whether or not there was a bootpath for this section or if I was indeed supposed to be bushwhacking as I did not have too much beta.

As it got later and my progress was stymied, I decided to retreat to the red culvert. I was concerned I would not make it up high enough to camp before darkness fell. If I went back I risked being too low to summit tomorrow. But I still had several positive options so it was more retreat than defeat:
1)I could camp at 3300 and probably still make the peak Saturday I thought. Worst case was camp there again as I had all day Sunday. Though Sunday was problematic as I was expected back in civilization so I would have to get message out.
2)If Craig and Edward got a late start and did not get enough progress then they probably would not make it past 3300' anyway. I did not think they would go above there if dark, especially as Edward carries no headlamp sometimes. I did not know what time they left Seattle but it was a 2+ hour drive after Craig got off work so even if he left at 3PM then drove then hiked the 2000' gain to road end that would be at about dark.
3)If they had made good progress, I could meet up with them and still make the basin. They had both attempted this route before and we would have 3 folks. Plus I would not be solo. I deemed this unlikely unless they left earlier than expected and/or got a ride.

As it turned out, I soon ran into them on the descent, much sooner than expected. They had gotten out of Seattle fairly early and moreover they had gotten a ride from the loggers to cut off 1800' of gain. With 2+ hours to sunset we headed up. This time, with a few twists and turns we were able to follow the bootpath and made it to the talus basin. Once in the talus basin we did an ascending eastward traverse through boulders and then rock hopped up boulders to the E edge of the talus. We followed this up until we hit a cairned turnoff into the brush on the right at about 4500'. A short brushy section came out at some logs and a little bit of airplane crash debris. Then we crossed a meadowy area and went up alongside a stream and slowly angled right into the basin. Finally up into the alpine we found that there were numerous areas to camp that were large flat areas though they were quite sandy. Had to go back down the hill a bit to get running water; Edward melted nearby snow.

After a fitful night we got started at about 6:45 and headed directly up to hit the ridge just a few hundred feet above camp. Easy slope. The route is long and complicated but I am not sure how much I can describe it as there were 100 small twists and turns. It starts out easy as you go through scrubs trees and such for a couple hundred vertical. After that it becomes progressively more scrambly. Lots of up and down and routefinding. Many cairns but lots of figuring out your own way. Consistent moderate exposure although no super hard move with cliffy exposure or anything. Most of the route was either right on the ridge or on the S side of the ridge. At the final notch at 6600' we dropped off of the ridge on the S side and traversed across snow briefly. Craig and I grabbed rocks to use as arrest devices since we had already left our poles behind. From here we know to go up rocks in this broad gully towards the summit ridge but we were unsure how far E to traverse first. We went up pretty quickly and this worked. You'll figure it out. We topped out after about 4 hours just a bit W of the 7000+ contour. Turns out the map is wrong and the BM to the E is higher. Once on the ridge it is easy class 2 over to the summit where we found superb views and a wet register sans pen.

Our trip down was slow and turned out to be slower than expected. Lots of hide and seek with the route and cairns. No major mistakes or anything but it took us another 6 hours or so to get back to camp. By now it was much later than expected. We bailed out of camp quickly and dropped to replenish water. Both Craig and I were probably dehydrated. I started feeling nauseous around this point. After grabbing water, we just headed on down the talus and brush to get back to the end of the road. Pretty uneventful. It was about 8PM at this point. Craig and Edward had bikes to get out while I was walking. At this point, I still felt fine so I decided to walk out and sleep in my car. Craig was kind enough to contact my girlfriend so she would not be anxious about my failure to arrive home that night. We parted ways. I hiked out the flatter sections as dusk fell and made decent time. By now I was vomiting water so pretty sure that I had heat stroke/dehydration but not much to do. Tried to eat salt and water but just kept vomiting water. But no worries. Kept walking but my pace really started to slow and I kept taking breaks. Almost falling asleep on breaks. Finally it ended around 1045 as I hit my car about 16 hours after leaving camp in the morning. Long day. Slept in the car and drove home the next day and got my peak and all was well.

My main thought on South Twin is that doing it takes a lot longer than I expected. There was no crux move that really made my stomach churn. But the scrambling and route-finding were extensive and time consuming. I thought it would be sort of like the slope on Del Campo but longer but instead it was vastly more involved. Approach is quite tedious but can be mitigated with a bike, something that I did not have.

1)Scratchy rock so bring gloves. Fingers worn off my brand new gloves by end of day.
2)Long pants/Shirt will help protect. I am totally scratched up from persistent minor contact with rock (and a little brush).
3)Small/summit pack. I carried my 50 liter overnight backpack and too much clothes/food to the smmit. Smaller pack would be highly useful for squeezes, balance and to downclimb facing out.
4)This takes way longer than it looks on the map. We were maybe 10 hours or so from camp up and down what is basically a mile each way and 2200' net gain. Other parties would be faster but still it is slow going.
5)Bicycle Bicycle Bicycle.
6)Might need poles/axe for snow but that means mostly carrying them on back. Not ideal.
7)Water could be a problem in late season. Dunno.

Elevation gain = 400' estimate wrong way gain estimate on route each way, -600 hitchhike (guess) on ascent only +300 wasted bushwacking on ascent only +100' each way on drop on road at Dailey Prairie (20 at bridge, 80 after N Twin turnoff).
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:6500 ft / 1980 m
    Elevation Loss:6500 ft / 1980 m
    Distance:17 mi / 27.3 km
    Grade/Class:Class 3 (Easy 4)
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Clear Summer Day
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:6000 ft / 1828 m
    Extra Loss:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:8 mi / 12.9 km
    Route:West Ridge
    Trailhead:Nooksack River  1200 ft / 365 m
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:6300 ft / 1920 m
    Extra Gain:500 ft / 152 m
    Distance:9 mi / 14.5 km
    Route:West Ridge
    Trailhead:Nooksack River  1200 ft / 365 m

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