Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - North Twin Sister/West Ridge

Fun,fun scrambling on super sticky dunite rock. Mostly solid with lots and lots of handholds. Steep snow descent on the north side. Beautiful views, esp the close up view of Baker and S Twin Sister.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • We were super lucky to have a key to the gated forest service road which saved us about 10 miles of R/T bike riding.

Our original plan was a 4 day climb of Dark Peak in the N Cascades, but we ended up here due to bad weather there.   The weather was excellent, clear skies most of the day and moderate temperatures.

As we drove up the FS road to the trailhead, we passed a man riding his bike hard up the road,  I was so glad I didn't have to push my bike up that road for the 3rd time!  IMG_9988.JPGWe parked the cars at the TH at around 3280'  The cairn marking the trailhead is in good shape and easy to find. IMG_9993.JPG

The trail for the first 1.5 miles is really an overgrown road and is in good shape.  Many probably chose to ride this trail to its end where there is a large fire pit.  Once the trail starts, there is a bit of bushwacking, but not too bad and the trail is easy to follow. IMG_9998.JPGWe hit snow once out of the brush and trees and get a great view of the west ridge which we will follow for a while before traversing.
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The snow comes and goes as we follow the boothpath along the ridge.60897096_2217924818296517_5871733039712698368_o.jpg

At about 5200', we start traversing to the right of the ridge where the fun scrambling starts.  When I was here before, there were lots of cairns to guide the way, but this time they were very intermittent.  We traversed steadily following below the ridge finding the path of least resistance.  Sometimes a little exploring had to be done, but nothing time consuming  

We were looking for 2 way points.  The first is the obelisk as seen in the photo below.20190518_113923.jpg

Once we sighted the obelisk, we moved fairly level below it when possible.  When in doubt or blocked, we traversed upwards.  Looking back at the obelisk.20190518_120115.jpg

Following are photos of the fun scrambling on this sticky, sticky dunite rock in no special order.  Although some of the photos can make it look a little scary, there were always lots of good, solid handholds.  

20190518_120421.jpg60628774_2217935288295470_8642395238108758016_o.jpg60549559_2217936574962008_15256024483102720_o.jpg60548910_2217935261628806_2521493965685915648_o.jpg20190518_122558.jpgGreat view of S Twin Sister.60620418_2217928738296125_4306474977969831936_o.jpgWe finally see our 2nd way marker, a formation of rocks that look like a cockscomb.  We knew to stop traversing laterally when we saw this and to start heading to the summit.  This is where our party split up for a short while.  The photo below shows the route I took before and this time too.InkedInked60585788_2217935718295427_2200270191932211200_o_LI.jpgTwo other members decided to go climber's left and took a more sporty route and traversed the summit ridge for a little longer.   You can barely see them high up getting close to the ridge.60496826_2217934271628905_1960231968771670016_o.jpgWe are all soon on the ridge.  The first 2 are on the false summit (as seen in the photo below) waiting for the rest of us.60800754_2217929134962752_7074914955991973888_o.jpgOnce together, we head to the real summit together.Inked60425994_2217929334962732_5860474160903356416_o_LI.jpgObligatory summit photo after enjoying some stunning views.20190518_203719.jpgThe glissade path down was steep near the ridge and pocked with large, protruding rocks so we resorted to down climbing past them before glissading.60689518_2217930174962648_7696658214217056256_o.jpgThe snow was soft so we could kick bucket steps.60713927_2217930051629327_5198983029053194240_o.jpgLooking  back up. 60459613_2217930384962627_83732376005378048_o.jpgThe glissade was sweet, ending at about 5600'. Nice to lose over 1000' so quickly.20190518_160442.jpgWe made a group decision to try to intersect the trail lower down, at about 4400' rather than try to reclaim the ridge at about 5200'.    Probably not the best decision due to some postholing and bushwacking.   If repeated, I would stay higher unless you were doing it earlier season.  Once we regained the ridge, it was easy sailing back and we were all so glad to not have to get on a bike.

A last look back at N Twin Sister.60360044_2217933428295656_3383838555938750464_o.jpg

Delicious dinner at Skagit River Brewery in Mt Vernon made for a great ending on our fun, chill day.

Carried, but not needed.  2 -30m alpine ropes, 2 pickets, crampons, harness and few pieces of rock pro.

8 hrs R/T total at leisurely pace.

Many thanks to Julianne Flowers for her help writing this report and Xiulan Hu and Julia Syi for the use of many of their beautiful photos.