North Sister

August 28-29, 2010

Our first try was on the weekend of July 10-11. Peter Green was my assistant leader, and Monica came along for the backpack and to help prepare sushi and cream pie to share with the group; Ivan Paskalev (aka “the tooth”) and Boyan Dobrev made up the Bulgarian contingent; Steve Kuhn was our “official” photographer, and Bob Harrison, Sean Breslin and Dave Jensen rounded out the group.

We got an early, before sunrise start Sunday morning, crossed the toe of the Hayden, ascended the gully to the col at the top of the Collier, then climbed the snowfield up onto the south ridge. Late, June snows and cool temperatures meant that there was more snow remaining above 7000' at this time of year than we’ve had for quite some time—it made this approach quick and easy. But when we got to the Camel’s Hump it became a bit difficult and time consuming. We stretched a fixed line out under the Hump, then stomped a good boot track out up and over the next gendarme. The gully before the “Dinner Plate” was completely filled with snow. Peter fixed two 60m ropes across the gully and the “Dinner Plate”, then he and I belayed each other the rest of the way to the base of the “Bowling Alley”, where we found ice blocking the usual climbing routes—summit denied!

Our second attempt was on August 28-29. This time Bob was my assistant, Boyan and Ivan Dobrev (not "the tooth") our Bulgarians, and Dave just along for the adrenalin rush. We camped Saturday night below the SE spur (where our group camped last year). It snowed some during the night, but cleared up and got really cold in the morning.

We delayed our start until sunrise, but made fairly fast time up the now snow-covered SE spur, making it to the “Dinner Plate” in about four hours. (Bob had turned back a short ways up the SE spur, and remained in camp the rest of the day.) Only a single 70m rope was needed this time across the traverse, but snow on the rock below the “Bowling Alley” necessitated the use of a hand-line. The usual quick exit to the right out of the “Alley” minimized the hazard caused by the new snow. The four of us enjoyed a few minutes in the sun on the summit before retracing our steps back to camp to rejoin Bob, pack out, and hike out.

Warning: always remember to tie your tent down to something solid so you don't have to go looking for it after coming down from a climb! — Wayne Deeter, leader

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