Ascent of North Sister on 2013-08-24

Climber: Michael Wanberg

Others in Party:Troy Baker
Caleb Morris -- Trip Report or GPS Track
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, August 24, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:North Sister
    Elevation:10085 ft / 3073 m

Ascent Trip Report

08/23 4:30p-7:30p (TH-camp); 5220' to 6680' +~400' = 1900' ~6.5mi
08/24 5:30a-12:30p (camp-summit); 6680' to 10085' +~300' = 3705' ~4mi
08/24 12:45p-5:00p(summit-camp); ~150' ~3.5mi
08/24 6:30p-8:45p (camp-TH); ~400' ~6.5mi

There wasn't any snow on our route above 7500', including in the Bowling Alley. There was some low fifth class climbing in the Bowling Alley and at the very top of the summit block (surprisingly solid). One of those two spots is the steepest on the route, but the Bowling Alley is definitely more dangerous because of the loose rock (crumbly holds, rock fall). We opted to rappel the upper (steepest) stretch of the Bowling Alley on Troy's 60m rope from an existing trio of 3/4" tubular webbing loops which were threaded around/between a pair of stacked boulders. One of those looked pretty sketchy, but the other two looked like they'd been very recently placed. We didn't see a need to leave a fourth loop.

We down-climbed the remainder of the Alley and then traversed below the neighboring chute to the left (facing the summit) and up into the little saddle to the west of the summit. A 1" tubular webbing loop (red) was strung diagonally 'around' a section of the shorter pinnacle to anchor our rappel of the upper section of that saddle (~60deg) before traversing to the north below the exposed rock bands that make up the northern 'foundation' of Prouty. We continued the traverse around Glisan, meeting our ascent route. We then scrambled our way back along the NW ridge, skirting around several gendarmes before descending the N ridge's gentle ramp that dropped us onto the cinder fields east of Collier Cone. We picked our way around the NE side of the cone and dropped back down to our campsite near the spring.

-A brief detour into the Collier Cone accounts for the extra half mile on the ascent, there was a bit of up-and-down to get back on route.

-The 'rock' on this mountain is, in most places, as bad as anyone describes. There are a few places (notably the top ~25' below the summit) that are solid, but most of the places everywhere else that LOOK solid aren't. TEST EVERY HOLD/STEP!!!

-I used my ice-ax in largely the same way I would on packed, somewhat-sloppy snow. I also used it to 'dry tool' some really crappy cracks, with varying degrees of success. I'm glad I had it with me.

-I brought a picket as well, but there wasn't any place it would have been useful. If there isn't snow on top, I don't think it's worth the extra weight.

-We didn't use the rope to belay any climbs or traverses, but I'm really glad we had it for the two rappels we did, particularly the upper stretch of the Bowling Alley. It's so loose up there!

-Plan AT LEAST two hours for the trip from between the Glisan and Prouty summits to the top of Prouty and then back. I think we took just over three hours at a comfortable pace for a party of three. You don't want to be in a hurry up there.

-Plan one-at-a-time for the Bowling Alley; it's essentially guaranteed that climbers are going to knock rocks loose.

-From what I've read and heard, it sounds like climbing the Bowling Alley is easier with some (firm) snow. I'd guess there would be chimneys/moats alongside the vertical snow-band that I've seen in photos taken there.

-Great conditions and company!

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6115 ft / 1863 m
    Total Elevation Loss:6115 ft / 1863 m
    Round-Trip Distance:20.5 mi / 33 km
    Grade/Class:Class 5.0
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Rope, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Windy, Partly Cloudy
Clear to Overcast, a few sprinkles overnight
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5565 ft / 1696 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 4865 ft / 1482 m; Extra: 700 ft / 213m
    Loss on way in:700 ft / 213 m
    Distance:10.5 mi / 16.9 km
    Route:PCT to Minnie Scott Spr, N ridge, Bowling Alley
    Start Trailhead:Lava Camp Lake TH  5220 ft / 1591 m
    Time:10 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5415 ft / 1650 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 4865 ft / 1482 m; Extra: 550 ft / 167m
    Gain on way out:550 ft / 167 m
    Distance:10 mi / 16.1 km
    Route:PCT to Minnie Scott Spr, then north ridge & Bowlin
    End Trailhead:Lava Camp Lake TH  5220 ft / 1591 m
    Time:6 Hours 30 Minutes

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