July 15, 2013

North Twin Sister with Sister

Last Sunday, Molly and I went on a fun little adventure on North Twin Sister.  This bike/hike/scramble came highly recommend by Ava, several of our friends, and the climbing community in general.  The approach involves about 6 miles of logging roads, which gain about 3,500 feet.  Provided you make all the right turns, the logging roads dump you out at the base of the west ridge of North Twin Sister.  I ended up riding/pushing  my bike up the hill while Molly ran and walked to the base of the ridge, where we arrived about 2 hours after leaving the car.

I ditched my bike at the base of the west ridge and we continued up a trail that frequently morphed into a series of trails.  Once out of the forest, this route offers about 1,500 feet of 3rd class scrambling on surprisingly good rock.  We wandered off route a bit on the way up but ended up finding a great new route as pretty much any where you go on this rock makes for great climbing.  We ended up descending the ridge we meant to come up and decided that our up-route was at least as good as the standard west ridge.

Molly scramblin' up the ridge

On the way down with the funky balanced rock in the background

Mt. Baker in the background (Molly's in there somewhere, too)
With only about 2.5 miles left to go and the mountain we just climbed in the background

Once back at the bike, I took both of our packs and Molly started running down.  We leapfrogged most of the way as I coasted down and acted as a support crew every mile or so.  With about 1/2 mile left, I flatted my rear tire.  I replaced the tube in good time and promptly flatted my only spare tube about 200 yards later (note that I was using road tires and it's kind of amazing I didn't flat much sooner).  I proceeded to run back to the car with one hand on my bike saddle as I chased it down the road.

I arrived at the car to find Molly running around in circles acting crazy about fish (we had parked next to the Nooksack River).  She soon saw a trout rise and rigged up her fly rod, which she pretty much always carries in her car.  One or two casts later she was reeling in a trout!  A great finish to a great day out in the mountains.

July 08, 2013


Explanation of Title
Our two good friends, Kiwi Josh and Melinda, are getting married a couple of weeks before Ava and I.  Since we all love hanging out together and have a very overlapping friend group, we decided to have a joint bachelor/bachelorette gathering in Mazama, Washington for a few days over the extended 4th of July weekend.  Josh+Josh+Ava+Melinda+Mazama=JJAMazama.

Many friends pulled together and pitched in to make this a very successful camp out.  We stayed at a Forest Service campground near the town of Mazama, with about 20 friends showing up to camp, climb, and generally act like idiots from July 3rd through 7th.  With two kegs of homebrew, excellent weather, and amazing alpine rock climbing nearby, it was difficult not to have a good time.

Day 1: Concord Tower
We spent our first day of climbing in a relatively large group, consisting of Maiya, Shaun, Molly, Ian, Ava, and me.  After finding the Beckey Route on Liberty Bell quite crowded, the six of us climbed three different routes on the adjacent Concord tower in three rope teams of two.  Ava led Maiya on Patriot Cracks, Ian led Molly on Tunnel Route, and I led Shaun on North Face with an unintentional new route for the second pitch.  It was great to spend another day high in the Liberty Bell group with wonderful friends, rocks, and views.

The Liberty Bell Group
(Liberty Bell on the far right and Concord Tower immediately to its left)

Day 2: Cutthroat Peak
On the second day, Ava and I teamed up with Dane to climb the South Buttress of Cutthroat Peak.  This was a substantially longer day with about 16 pitches of climbing and almost as many rappels to get back down.  We moved efficiently, completing the route in about 10 hours car-to-car.  With simul-climbing, hip belays, and a few pitched out parts, this route definitely had more of a mountaineering feel than a straight up rock climb.  We were supposed to meet up with three other friends who would be climbing the same route that day, but they reportedly zigged where they should have zagged on the way up and botched the approach.

Ava belaying Dane on the final pitch of the South Buttress

Cutthroat Peak from the approach basin

Happy to be back on terra firma

Day 3: Fun Rock / River Time
After a long-ish day on Cutthroat the previous day, we were ready to relax.  After a very lazy hour or two at the local sport crag of Fun Rock, we all admitted to ourselves that we were more interested in spending time by the river than climbing.  We grabbed some picnic/lunch stuff and proceeded to spend the rest of the day in and adjacent to the icy waters of the Methow River.

Day 4: Le Petit Cheval
With everyone else heading home on Sunday, Ava and I got an early start on the Spontaneity Arete of Le Petit Cheval (the little goat, as I'm told).  Simply put, this a very fun moderate route with frequent steps of great climbing intermixed with a fair bit of 3rd and 4th class scrambling.  We encountered no other parties on the route and were able to climb and descend the route in about 6 hours.  We heard thunder on our way back to the car and had rain drops hitting the windshield within about 1 minute of beginning our drive down the east side of Washington Pass.

Ava leading up one of the many great pitches of Spontaneity Arete

Me on top of the Little Goat

We climbed a total of about 28 pitches in 4 days of climbing, all but one of which were on alpine routes.  While moderately ambitious, this left plenty of time for regular visits to the always-wonderful Mazama General Store and hanging with friends around the campfire.  While no traditional explosives were involved, this may still go down as my favorite 4th of July to date.

Riding the summit of Cutthroat Peak