Brad, everything I've ever read and heard says to stay off the north face when there's any visible snow up there unless you're roping up, and your photo shows that the whole route had snow. When I went, there were two small snowbanks on the route, but each had the potential to cause a fall of hundreds of feet, as the goat trail on the north face skirts a sheer wall most of the way. You made a good decision, and I'm glad you got to experience such a great mountain and all that great scenery.
As a younge girl...I have explored that country and my father gave me this experience that I will never forget..I write about in vol.two book...Life Goes On...though my first book will be released in 2009-feb..I loved your report and photos! Thanks!
Reynold's North Face gives me the creeps. I'd rope up for that one, especially with snow! I know people do it, but I wouldn't. You made the right choice going up the south slope. In '07, I climbed the route you described. The view of The Dragon's Tail captured in your picture of the exposed ledge is great - nice picture!
I must have missed the same cairns you did and a few more. I had to climb the scree slope twice due to a route mistake on the lower cliffs. I recall being surprised at how much loose rock came down while we were descending. We found a fossil in one of those rocks. A helmet is a must for this scree climb!