North Sister - Beta Dump

September 18, 2018

We've had a lot of folks asking us for beta on how to 'actually climb North Sister.' (ie, how to not F it up like we did the first time we went up it in 2015). So, here it is folks. The BETA DUMP on Corie's favorite Cascade Volcano (which also happens to be most people's least favorite volcano).


This picture was taken from the Hayden Glacier and shows the South and Southeast ridges of North Sister. The bowl on the left holds snow late into the season and skis well.


Another vantage point on the South and Southeast ridges, taken from the summit of Middle Sister. For snow coverage reference, this photo was taken in early June. The line shows the approximate climbing route taken.


Corie ascends the initial red scree fields from the saddle between Prouty Point and North Sister. The Collier Glacier can be seen below. Prouty Point is the exposed rock, just out of frame to the left. This section is very loose and is basically a 'tread hill' - similar to a treadmill, your legs are moving but you never make upward progress :)


Corie ascends the ridge between gendarmes. There is a faint 'trail' through much of this section. Stay as close to the top of the ridge as possible, dropping down left or right to pass the initial gendarmes.


More gendarmes. Some of the larger ones farther along the ridge are passed to the left. This will drop you down onto some scree fields on the climber's left. The south summit should be visible above. 


You're looking for this initial traverse that precedes the 'terrible traverse.' Again, faint trails should be visible if most of the snow is melted out.


This picture shows Corie in the middle of the traverse shown in the previous picture.


The terrain starts to get more technical at this point. After rounding the first traverse, you're looking for a prominent horn that marks the start of the terrible traverse. 


In some years, we've seen a 'high road' and a 'low road' on the terrible traverse. If you look closely, squint, and pretend, you can usually see a faint trail or two. The traverse really isn't bad and you can quickly move across it if snow free. At the end of the traverse, stay high on more solid rock, and wrap around to the right, making a U turn. A few moves up and you'll be looking at the Bowling Alley. You're looking to the south at this point.


 Corie moves up the first part of the Bowling Alley. The scrambling is best off to the climbers right.



The rock through this section gets better the higher you go.


 Trend right until you're climbing 4th class on mostly good rock, nearly on a 'rib' on the right side of the Bowling Alley. The middle of the Bowling Alley is completely rotten and very steep. However, in the winter, this middle section holds most of the snow and ice and actually makes the best climbing route.


Andy descends the climbers right/skiers left of the Bowling Alley. 

 Corie ascends the middle of the Bowling Alley in spring conditions. More on that mission here.


 Once up the Bowling Alley, the path to the summit becomes more obvious. You're walk up, headed east to the summit ridge.



At this point, you can traverse to either summit, but the true summit is to the North. A few more 4th class moves guard this final section but the rock is solid and the exposure isn't bad.




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© 2018 by The Elective Mountain Refugees. 

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