North Sister 4/23/07For a few months now there's been a festering deep down inside me, nagging at me with whispers of frustration and discontent. I've known what it is for some time now, but all efforts to quench this monster have spoiled... until now.
Last Monday the mountain man inside of me broke free of his cage. I tried to restrain him, telling him going to the mountains solo is dangerous, that mountain climbing is hard work, and that North Sister had a sinister nature, but all suggestion fell upon deaf ears.
I got a nice alpine start @ 7:00am :) from the Pole Creek Trailhead outside the town of Sisters, Oregon. I quickly lost the trail and began cross-country navigation towards the Northernmost of three 10,000ft volcanoes. After a little over an hour I broke out of the trees into the glory of a bluebird sky and massive peaks.
The first thing i noticed was that the route I intended to climb had avalanched from top to bottom. It looked like a long slow slide, not a killer but certainly the roller coaster ride of a lifetime had an unlucky climber been present. I had no desire to ski through ice boulders, and the mountain beast on my shoulder agreed so a westward traverse was made bearing towards the gaping Northeast Face of North Sister.
After an endless series of steps and skinning I successfully tore a hole in the time-space continuum and transported myself to 9,500ft just under Glissan Pinnacle, one of the three summits living upon this massive rock pile.
It was getting later in the day than I liked, and even the beast was getting anxious, so we decided to forgo the last 500ft, even though my ice tools begged to do battle with the most technical sections of the climb. After duct-taping their mouths shut I took my planks off of my back and strapped them to my feet. At first the speed was exhilarating, intoxicating and terrifying, but as I raced down the face time began to slow and a hyper-awareness filled my every thought. I watched rocks pass in slow motion as my skis sprayed warm snow off their tales.
In all what had taken me 5 hours to climb took me 30 minutes to descend, but in that thirty minutes my companion was so overjoyed that he finally collapsed, sleeping like a baby upon my shoulder. For now he would rest, and allowed me to place him back into his cage with not a whisper of opposition... for he knew in his deviant little mind it would mere days before he would escape yet again...
Current Route Conditions (4/23/07)Aside from Early Morning Couloir having avy'd conditions were really good. The snow was firm on the way up but was softening a lot by the time I reached my highpoint. I didn't see any open crevasses, I did see the depressions of a few bergschrunds coming out. Probably the best corn snow I've ever skied, pretty steep and continuous. I gained the ridge through a small snow notch. Maximum angle was a little over 45° in few spots.
Pole Creek road (road 15) is completely melted out and in great shape, a geo metro could handle that road.
The trail is hard to follow, I got off of it quickly on purpose. There's many snow patches followed by lot's of dirt, I did not ski bellow tree line.
-1 ice tool