North Peak

1 Aug 2003 - by Marcin Porwit

We caught the 7:30 am water taxi across Saddlebag lake, and two hours later found ourselves at the base of the North Peak glacer, staring at the couloirs. It had rained the last three or four days, but it hadn't been very cold at night, so we were looking forward to some very consolidated, not too icy snow.

After prepping the gear, we started up the glacier around 10:30. I carried a rack of passive rock pro and some ice screws, and Leszek carried 30m of rope. We quickly got to the bergschrund, which is starting to open up on the right side of the couloir, but the left side is quite passable.

Since it had been easy going so far, we decided to continue unroped and see if we could simulclimb the whole thing. Conditions in the couloir weren't nearly as good as we had hoped. There was a surprising amount of solid ice in the couloir, even down the middle of it. Many parts that weren't ice were styrofoam. We topped out at around 2pm, having spent the previous couple of hours wishing we'd roped up and belayed each other while placing pro instead of simulclimbing. My crampons popped off a coule of times, which made me very glad I had the ice screws so I could anchor myself while I reattached them. 22cm crews held really well. Pickets would probably have been useless. We ascended pretty much straight up the middle of the couloir, so the rock pro was also unnecessary.

Near the top it started to drizzle, and by 2pm it was raining solidly, so we skipped the summit itself and headed down toward Conness Lakes and the taxi ride home. It rained pretty much the whole way down.

Participants: Leszek Szalek, Marcin Porwit

Michael Gordon adds:

> surprising amount of solid ice in the couloir, even down the middle of it.
> Many parts that weren't ice were styrofoam.

Perhaps not what you had hoped for, but that sounds like great cruising conditions to me! :)


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