North Sister via North Ridge

August 16-17, 1980

Fourteen climbers signed up for this unorthodox route. At 3:30 a.m. we left camp at the base of Linn Glacier and climbed the lower part of the crumbling North Ridge via flashlight. (One advantage — we didn’t have to look at what we were doing.) We passed the site of the 1978 plane crash; it’s now all cleaned up with no remaining evidence of the accident, which occurred directly on this climbing route.

Though this route avoids the classic summit snowfield traverse, it provided an interesting little snow chute of its own. I used two axes to claw my way up clear ice on the side (of course my crampons were securely tied to my pack — brilliant), then belayed Dave and let him do the messy work of chopping big buckets straight up the slope.

Soon we had the chute and pinnacle laced with fixed lines, and everyone was hurried to the top by 12:30, and hurried right off again. A long arm-rappell speeded the process. Now the fun began. If this ridge is tedious to climb, it’s even more bothersome to descend — like coming off the never-ending south ridge of Jefferson. Plus the wind now blasted us with high gusts until we reached camp.

Using map, compass, instinct, and more than a pinch of dumb luck, we headed cross-country to meet our exit trail at the right point. We arrived in Eugene past midnight after a hairy drive through fog and heavy rain on the Santiam. An excellent group to climb with, and special thanks to Glenn and Gene for co-leading.

Climbers included Jan Baker, Dan Bates, Tim Cook, Mary Ellen de la Pena, Dick Hildreth, Duane Krogh, Dave Lewinsohn, Ed Lichtenstein, Glenn Meares, Pat Smith, Gene Thaxton, Paula West, Nancy White and Bert Ewing, leader.

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