This is intended as a start to describe what the North Ridge route is like and what to expect as well as references to some select photos that will help future climbers with the details of preferred variations on this ridge beginning at the fissure. Hope to add some detail in the future on the timbered section from the lake up to 5000 ft which we found challenging to avoid steep rock bluffs that had to be skirted with the associated lost time (both ascent and descent). Rough times were 5 hr ascent, to 5700, 5 hrs from 5700 to final saddle at 8300, ?? hrs to summit from final saddle.
photo credit (primary image) - Bill Saur, Seattle, WA
Prefer Ross Lake Resort sled (cost was $170 round trip in 2011) from the south dock to Devil's Cr. vs a long hike on the Lake Trail.
Ross Lake to 5700 feet
Begin just south of the Devil's Creek bridge and head up for 4100 ft to the tarns at 5700 ft.
Largest tarn at 5700 ft
Maintain a rough heading of 140 magnetic. Keep to the Devil's Cr side to avoid the huge rock bluff on the May Cr side (SW). There may be a route up this but it would be a steep, treed gully intersecting the rock at best.
5700 ft level to the ridge fissure at 8200 ft.
view of first major ridge saddle at about 6000 ft
Easy ridge walk in open terrain until you reach a major discontinuity in the ridge at 6700 ft. where there is an easy down climb of about 30 ft class 4 to a small notch/saddle. Exit the saddle heading up toward a steep gully a few hundred yards traverse from the saddle. Above the gully you will pass a natural arch on climber's left through which you look down on Devil's Cr.
Natural arch along ridge top
This arch is is about 5-6 yds wide and a 10 ft roof so you can't miss it. Continue up the ridge until you're at about 7000 ft and look for a good place to drop down onto the snow field. Early July should provide enough snow to minimize the descent you will need to make. Once on the snow field, climb parallel to the ridge line until you reach a rotten looking fissure in the ridge line. At this point you can scramble back onto the ridge below this fissure or, better, pick another route up the sloping ledges or up the side of the glacier until you can regain the ridge. Crossing the fissure is not recommended but I haven't been able to try the ledges or glacier to verify they actually go. The fissure crossing is terrible, rotten rock except on the left-hand side with breath taking exposure off into Devil's Cr. A single 5.2 move gets you up and onto the ridge again. Down climbing this was no problem. Still, I wouldn't do it again if I could find a better alternative.
View up the ridge from 8300 ft (beyond the fissure)
The last shot (primary for this page, see top right) was a telephoto and provides more detail near the summit block if you choose "large" with the image control. There appear to be options other than wrapping around to the left to intersect the East route.
To be continued........
The Picasa link above takes you to select photos of this route, 3 of which are zooms that show enough detail of the summit block to get an idea of possible routes up other than traversing near the top to the left and under the cornice that was present in late July this year (2011). The snow field you would need to cross looked steep and getting over this cornice could present a serious problem. Unfortunately the image size selector for SP does not provide enough zoom capability to really see the detail available in the image. If anyone can give me a tip on how to make this available within SP I would appreciate the help.
"How do you distinguish between being off-route and putting up a first ascent?"