North Peak, Right Couloir

26 Sep 1999 - by Ron Karpel

I drove up early Sunday morning and met Arun and Karon in the Saddlebag Lake parking lot at 7 AM startup. While packing, I noticed that the taxi boat was getting ready to pull out, so we jumped on it. Ours was the last taxi run for the season. The driver pulled out all the docking stuff on the far side of the lake before returning. We left the docking area and started up the trail towards Cascade Lake and the Northeast slops of North Peak. The Ridge which the couloirs cut through come quickly into view. The left couloir is the steeper one, but I climbed it last year with John Zazzara. This time we were headed to the right couloir. The middle couloir is often thin and seldom climbed if at all.

On the edge of the permanent snow field we put on crampons, and ice axes in hand we started up the ever steepening snow towards the right couloir. About 100 ft. below the bergschrund we stopped and setup the first belay. At first, I thought it may be fun to climb straight up the bergschrund. It looked as if it is only 10 ft. tall. But once I got to the edge, I discover it was 20-30 ft. deep, and looked very difficult. So I opted for the bridge on the right. The only problem with the bridge was that there were 2 other parties climbing that day, so we had to wait our turn.

Once past the bergschrund, I pulled to the right side of the couloir, trying to find a good place for a belay station. But there was none. We ended up hanging off a stake making the best of it. For the next 2 pitches, I pulled to the left and found reasonable belay stations part on rocks and part on the snow. By the forth pitch the angle of the couloir slaked off and We started simulclimbing. That didn't last very long as we quickly reached the top of the couloir and dry land.

It was too late to go for the summit, so we headed down following the use trail.

Conditions: The snow was extremely firm. It took extreme effort to drive pickets in, and was harder to get them out. At many places ice screws were just as useful. I ended climbing most of the way front pointing, but Arun showed that it is possible to side step the whole thing.

Participants: Arun Mahajan, Karon MacLean, and scribe - Ron Karpel

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