A few friends and I took off from the Narada Falls parking lot Saturday morning at 9:40am. The Rangers opened the gate at 9:00am sharp. We took the trail up to the Steven's canyon road and followed the road until it veered off towards Reflections Lake. After leaving the road we took the path of least resistance as we descended 300' in the direction of Lane. After an easy stream crossing we were at the base of the North Face.
The plan was to climb the Fly since we had heard it was the closest to being in shape. When we reached the base of the Zipper it proved to alluring for Shane and Stuart and we agreed that we would meet them back at the trailhead. Rod, John, and I continued around to the Fly. This was John's first climb and we thought the Fly would be plenty sporty.
The first 2/3rds of the route were mild due to 2-4 feet of powder. At 2/3rds height (with snowshoes still on) the chute narrowed to less than 8 feet and the angle went up to 50 degrees or so. The snow was thin at this point and we had loose rock and a bit of ice underneath. There was no chance of a picket holding a fall and a useless belay didn't seem worth roping up for. John managed to work his way up over the rock with much effort. While this was going on Rod slipped about 5 feet and slid into me. Deciding to take off his snowshoes Rod moved up and to the left. A minute later John (who was out of my sight) came sliding over the rock and also slid into me! He slid about 30 feet but was no worse for it. After untangling ourselves we ditched the snowshoes and dawned crampons. From that point getting to the top of the Fly was uneventful.
From the notch below the West ridge we down climbed a couple hundred feet on snow and began traversing east. Referring to a picture I had of the South side of the mountain we passed the standard gulley to the summit and continued towards the Col between Denman and Lane. We could now see the way out so a quick debate on weather or not to go for the summit ensued. It was nearly 4pm but the weather looked good so we figured getting out after dark wouldn't be too bad. Instead of back tracking to the gulley we saw we headed up on the far SE side and scrambled up. Class 4 for a good part of it on sometimes wet or snow covered rock was plenty sporty for me. We were just a few minutes into the descent when the sunset. John got his first NW summit and earned every bit of it!
On our way back to the Col we ran into Shane and Stuart, they had just topped out on the Zipper. The 5 of us hiked out in perfect calm conditions and got back to the parking lot around 6:45pm.
Go get either one of these routes while the path we beat is still there! Lovers Lane looked like it still needed a lot of snow. If you go up the Zipper be on the look out for a MRS Snowshoe that Shane lost down the crux of the route. If you pick it up PM me :-)
"After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, which is the most horrible thing in the world."
--Oscar Wilde on Absinthe