May 31, 2014

North Twin Sister (6640’)

——————– Trip Report Summary ——————–

Region: Northwestern Cascades

Starting & Ending Point: Middle Fork Nooksack River Bridge/Gate (Dailey Quarry Road)

Way Points: Dailey Prairie (bike ride); North Sister Spur Road & West Ridge Notch (hike & snow hike)

Summit: North Twin Sister (climb via West Ridge; descent via North Couloir)

Approximate Total Stats: 10 miles traveled; 5500 feet gained and lost.

——————– Full Trip Report ——————–

Eileen and I took advantage of mostly good weather on the last day of May to climb the ultra-classic West Ridge of North Twin Sister.  It had been 10 years or so since I’d been up this way, and I was surprised to see how much logging has been done throughout the flanking forest. Both the quarry road and the old overgrown Dailey Prairie spur road have been re-graded, widened, and graveled, making them hardly recognizable as being the original alignment.

Riding Toward Dailey Prairie

Although navigation is a bit easier now, we did not appreciate the 1-inch crushed rock under our bike tires—either uphill or downhill.

The climber’s trail leading up from the prairie is in excellent shape, but the extension path above 4100 feet was still buried in spring snow.

Ascending Lower West Ridge

We worked up to the lower west ridge and followed it to the rocky transition. The grippy, orange, weathered dunite made for enjoyable Class 2-3 scrambling as we stayed on or south of the crest.

Climbing On Middle Ridge

We roped up at the 5800-foot hogback, and continued up a combination of snow and rock using running belays.

Eileen Belaying On Hogback

Protection was gained primarily by weaving our rope back and forth across the horny crest; chocks and slings were necessary only at a few exposed Class 3 and 4 headwalls. We topped out in swirling fog at 4:30pm (7.8 hours from car).

Southeast Ridge From Summit

Rather than retracing our route back down the long ridge, we descended steep snow on the north face. Conditions turned out to be perfect here; the snow was soft but well bonded.

Descending North Face

Once below the steep face, we picked up a boot track that had been beaten in by a large group from the Skagit Alpine Club. (They had established camp on a nearby snow bench.) Their tracks led us back to the climber’s trail, and it was then just a quick hike and ride back to our car (3.4 hours from summit) with a little daylight to spare.

Evening Sun On Mount Baker


——————– Photo Gallery (click to enlarge) ——————–