Obsidian climb/North Sister 08'
A Weather disturbance moved through western Oregon on August 1st, the day before the climb. Ivan And I headed up that evening before the official climb to get an early start from the trailhead.
The cooler weather that moved through turned out to be a good thing as it kept the temperature comfortable and the snow remained firm. We were loaded down under heavy packs as we made are way up the trail to are highcamp.
We arrived at camp, a pretty meadow with a stream located just below the Hayden Glacier. We pitched the tent and ate are lunch. A few minutes later we grabbed the rope and are harnesses, helmets and a couple of pickets. We headed up on the glacier for some glacier travel/ crevasse rescue practice. We practiced for a couple of hours and spent some time going over are route. we snapped a bunch of pictures swapped beta with some other climbers and headed back to camp.
When we arrived back in camp, we were greeted by an emerging tent village. there was a couple of guided groups coming up for a climb of the middle sister the next morning. We made some dinner and decided to call it an early night.
We woke up the next morning at 2:15 am under a brilliant canopy of stars. It was a nice evening/morning and the transition to lets get up and climb was smoother than normal. We left camp at3:00am and headed up a rock ridge to access the hogsback about a 3rd of the way up the glacier. The hogsback is a ridge of snow that is the traditional route up the Hayden Glacier and keeps us well away from the gaping crevasses below us on both sides.
The climb of the glacier goes by uneventful "Whew". It's dark out but very peaceful as we transition on to the rock. We make are way over to the Collier glacier. It is now dawn and the cascade peaks are starting to show their early morning alpen glow. We stop to snap some pictures of the beautiful surroundings.
We arrive at the base of the south ridge of The North Sister. It is tricky here to gain the ridge as everything you touch moves and it is very hard to make forward progression. We gain the ridge, but a little lower than we should have. We pay for it by having to belay each other around two gendarmes. We now have a clear route layed befor us, we must move up the south ridge on shallow scree which is pretty slick. We slog up the ridge and come to the base of a long series of gendarmes. We traverse the west side of the gendarmes and proceed up a loose talus gulley to a gap. We pass through the gap and traverse below a noted gendarme called the Camels Hump. We pass here easily ascend another loose talus gulley and re emerge back on the ridge.
A little while later after a couple of moderately exposed traverses we arrive at the Dinnerplate or also known as the Terrible Traverse. It is now were the climbing becomes technical. Ivan sets up a belay anchor with one picket and His ice axe. I put my crampons on and tie in to the rope. I proceed out onto the snowfield that covers about 70% of the traverse. I find the snow is hard and I have to chop steps to continue this climb. I admit this had me feeling relunctant. I sucked it up though and just started chopping and kicking steps with a purpose. Five pickets later, a sketchy dismount on to the rock on the opposite side, I set up a belay and brought Ivan across.
Ivan then resumed his belay position and I worked my way up to the base of the Bowling Alley ( a fourth class gulley). I belayed Ivan Up to me and then he proceeded on to lead the Bowling alley and then promptly belayed me up to him. We scrambled up to the summit from here and were treated to a great view of the cascades and beyond to Mary's Peak in the Coast Range. The view of the North Sister was awsome and sobering. This is a rugged, ragged, dangerous mountain which deserves lots of respect. We did not linger long knowing we had to repeat the technical stuff in reverse.
I am Happy to report that are descent was smooth learning from are miscues on the way up. We were weary, but satisfied with are Summit of the Black beast of the Oregon Cascades.