Twin Sisters Traverse - WR North Twin & NER South Twin, July 2006
Jeff, Paul and I climbed the North and South Twin Sisters on a mostly cloudy July day. Actually, I think we found the only cloudy spot in the state that weekend, and we were thus deprived of all views of Mt. Baker and most of the surrounding scenery. The views (or the lack thereof) aside, some fun climbing was had, particularly on the North Twin.
As expected, the West Ridge of the North Twin fully lives up to its reputation of being a thoroughly enjoyable scramble on solid olivine (peroditite)...the kind of climbing that can be made as easy or interesting as one desires. While the Northeast Ridge of the South Twin has little of the aesthetic value the North Twin's West Ridge possesses, it is arguably the most "solid" line on the peak. The descent of South Twin's West Ridge, on the other hand was a loose and exposed affair and we were more than happy to be back down in the basin between the peaks.
Here's the rundown (It was more involved than this, but...):
16.5 miles round trip river to river. 14 hours. 7,500' net gain.
We parked at gate across bridge (unlocked) and rode uphill 3.4 miles to a gravel berm at the edge of a spur road at right (40 exhausting minutes on bikes). 6.0 miles of biking total to intersection with trail/overgrown road leading up to base of WR of NT. Stashed bikes here and started hiking. By about 12 we were on top of NT, approx. 5 hours from car. Great scrambling!
Descended the prominent gully (no snow at all) on south side of NT. Ugly. Not recommended. One double-30 rap. Better traverse route is down NW Ridge of NT to a short rappel onto glacier. Once in basin between peaks, climbed 600 ft back up on Class 3/4 slabs to left of lowest notch. From notch, got onto glacier (no crevasses) to get to NE Ridge of ST. Easy Class 3 to summit. Register is at SE end but NW end looks higher. But when you go over to NW end, SE end looks higher. Register could be bigger with new notebook. Old tattered junk in there now.
Descended WR of ST for a while (doing one single-30 rap). It's harder than the Class 2/3 Beckey describes. Having enough of that, we bailed to the basin between the peaks, down-climbing lots of crap rock and sloping slabs with debris to the high steep snow. One more 30m rap got us to the moat where Jeff took a much easier/safer line than Paul and me.
Took the basin trail out (past the cabin ruins) to the logging road on south flank of lower WR of NT. Retrieved bikes and hung on for a white-knuckled descent back to the car! Gate was still unlocked...dang!
All-in-all a worthy outing, despite the grief on South Twin's West Ridge. My advice to anyone looking to repeat this traverse - descend the South Twin's Northwest Ridge instead and retrace your steps across the glacier and back to the low saddle between the peaks. From what we could gather, a single rope rappel (60m) will reach back into the basin. If all else fails, down-climbing the class 3/4 slabs just beyond the saddle would work as well. Also, as mentioned previously, descending the North Twin's NW Ridge to get on the glacier would be better (and more aesthetic) than downclimbing the South Face gully.
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