North Twin Sister, Elevation 6,570ft
March 10-11, 2001
Jason, Ben, and Josh
Author: Jason Hummel
Josh traversing from the west ridge towards the north ridge.
Josh, Ben, and I wanted to ski. We simply missed skiing. It seems kayaking had become a newfangled winter sport for us and was consuming much of our time. Josh and I packed our gear Friday night. We wrote Ben and told him about the North Twin, which Josh and I had gone to the week before. We told him that the hike in was a pain. The climb starts at a gate and you climb a series of logging roads for the first several miles. The only landscape you see is flattened forest until you get your first glimpse of the Twins. Josh and I didnít make it our first time because there was a few feet of new snow but we saw enough to capture our interest. To us, the North Face of the North Twin looked like a classic line and our skis were itching to carve it. We knew we would return and as it turned out, we returned one week later.
The weather didnít look as well as we wanted. In fact it was going to most likely rain with a chance of sunshine. Our fingers were crossed.
We started off with tennis shoes and headed up the road. We didnít hit snow for a few miles. Just up the road I fetched some sweet tarts out of my ski pocket and when I looked up Josh and Ben were gone. I figured they had just sped up. I continued hiking for two or three miles before I noticed there were no tracks ahead of me. It turns out Josh had made a wrong turn. All the logging roads and jack firs make the way difficult at best. They soon realized their mistake and caught up with me a short while later.
Soon we were out of the trees, but no sight of the Twin Sisters. They were indistinguishable behind the clouds. We could wait.
Josh meandering his way through the jack firs.
We needed a camp, but where? Ben thought up and across the bowl looked promising. Josh and I agreed and so we set out. After pitching our tent Ben had found a better site and so Josh and I humped our packs on again and carried the tent along. The improvement was substantial, as is often the case.
Josh thought we could make a fire, I thought we could, and Ben wanted to make it a reality. He began digging snow. That night we cooked our food on the fire and ate in fine style.
The culmination of our determination.
We climbed up one thousand vertical feet or so and laid down some late night turns. The snow had a few inches of soft powder and an ice crust beneath. We enjoyed each turn nonetheless and returned to camp and the fire (our beacon through the clouds).
We woke-up early the next morning, but we were in no hurry to get out of bed. Outside the weather hadnít changed, in fact it looked even worse, with big snowflakes falling. Soon we all crawled out of our bags and began packing. Today the North face was going to be ours.
Hiking up was quite eerie. Everything was white. All we knew was that the face was above us and to the left. As long as we stayed on snow we figured we were still on the face. At least that's what we hoped. A few times we began to wonder.
We were beginning to wonder if this was the way.
Soon we reached a cliff that offered some purchase and there Ben put on his skis to traverse a very steep face. He planned to cross over to the ridge. He did. Josh and I decided to walk it. Bad idea! The snow was deep and the traverse was nearly vertical, maybe sixty-five or seventy degrees. Ben sunk his ski just above Josh and he was able to grab it and pull himself the rest of the way. I followed in like fashion. The summit was to the left and it only offered a short but steep scramble.
Nearing the summit.
We were there if you could call the couple square feet hanging in limbo amongst the clouds, a place. To us, this was another summit and the best part was yet to come -- the ski.
We rested just below the summit. I didnít have a place to sit and so I stood and looked down the South Face. After a minute or so I wanted to go, but Ben wanted a bite to eat and drink before we left.
Ben dropped in first and then Josh. I was going to film, but instead I also dropped in. We followed our tracks, which hugged the rock. The first several hundred feet were steep. I thought the face was flatter to the skierís left, but we werenít going to venture to where we couldnít see. Ben stopped and readied for a photo. Josh set up and carved some nice turns.
Josh making some nice turns.
The snow was fun even more so than the day before during our night ski. It turns out we had a few more inches to enjoy. The ski down went fast especially when the face flattened out enough so we could open up a bit. Along the way we searched for anything to entertain us.
Before long we were back at camp and loading our stuff up for the hike out. Someone started the fire again so we took our time. No one was in a hurry to hike out.
Back at camp.
Soon we did leave. The weather wasnít as good as we would have liked, but the mission was accomplished nonetheless. Josh and I were happy to have bagged the line and Ben was glad that the weekend was well spent.
Some of the good turns.