About this time next week, I may have a go at Sill via the N Couloir. Does anyone know what current conditions are on the glacier traverse part of the route? I will have axe and crampons but would love to leave the crampons behind if conditions warrant. It's my understanding that crampons are recommended but not always necessary on that route.
Or is the glacier already so melted out that accessing the chutes would be nasty?
"Alcohol is like love. The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl's clothes off."
--Terry Lennox, The Long Goodbye (Raymond Chandler)
Bob there is a fourth class ascent way further to the left that shouldn't require crampons even if the correct route does. We found some parts sketchy but even we were able to do it without climbing shoes and with a full rope and overnight packs on our back.
Last year at this time (similar weather, lack of snow), the "problem" was more the condition of the North Couloir. Late in the season, as the snow shrinks, people often go on the sides around it, and avoid snow entirely (but on crumbly 3rd class). Last year, there was enough snow to warrant use of axe and crampons, but near the top of the snow, a lot of hard (dangerous) ice was showing through.
There are two reports on Summitpost for that route on July 17... maybe a PM...
AlexeyD said: "Via "L couloir" and SW ridge, from Sam Mack Meadow. Some snow remaining on Apex-SW ridge section made things a bit tricky, but manageable. Great conditions on couloir and Palisade Glacier. Incredible summit views. A bit of roped downclimbing on 4th-class section on the descent. All in all an awesome objective with a good, healthy level of mountaineering challenge and 5-star scenery."
Bob, I was just up there last week http://www.summitpost.org/phpBB3/post931799.html#p931799 and went up the N. Couloir. We didn't cross the glacier and went across the talus under Gayley. We stayed low because of major rockfall off of Gayley from the rain/heat. The approach into Glacier Notch is the worst part IMHO. Just loose dirty talus, but totally doable. There is no "L" shaped glacier on Sill right now and we went straight up the right side. It was a little loose, but not like into the notch. The 4th class traverse was superb. Feel free to PM or email me for any questions. edit: I wouldn't cross the glacier because of all the rockfall we saw coming down. Some fridge size and some pebbles. This could've been due to the amount of rain we were having there though. You'll have to literally "play it by ear"...