North Peak, Southeast face

5 Sep 1999 - by Pat Callery

I took a friend up North Peak on Sunday, and thought it worthy of a route description. Secor's book lists just one non-technical route up the peak (but I haven't seen the 2nd ed.), and I fear those of you who like to hike your peaks "by the book" may pass by some terrific 3rd class climbing for the menial, dusty scree slog up the SW slope.

We hiked in the day before from Saddlebag Lake and camped above Cascade Lake, under the looming NE face of North. From there (or elsewhere) gain the small ridge that separates the Conness Lakes from the 20-lakes basin. There are both outstanding slabs and moderate-angle snowfields ascending the N side of this ridge. Follow the ridge until you are alongside the vertical east face, and proceed directly up the SE face. Low on the face are a number of large sandy chutes, but terrific 3rd class slabs & blocks can and should be climbed along the edges of those chutes. We stayed immediately to the left of a small arete protruding directly S of the summit. Directly beneath vertical cliffs on the summit ridge, another gully branches straight to the right and leads to the ridge. The last 500' of this climb is almost entirely on solid class 3 rock, if you know where to find it.

We took the SW slope down for some great scree-skiing, and thanked goodness we didn't choose this miserable and less-scenic toil for the hike up. We got back to camp fairly early so I ran up the Shepard's Crest to the north. There was some fun scrambling getting to the ridgeline, but the final 800 ft or so up the crest was a talus stairmaster event. Nothing to recommend about this particular route. There were several parties camped in the basin this weekend, but solitude was easy to find. Over the weekend we saw a number of parties ascending the snowfield towards some of those great looking NE face routes.

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