Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sisters - North and South

On Sunday, June 22nd, six of us hiked South and North Sisters. This is one of the best hikes in Mt. Charleston. We followed the standard route that starts from Old Mills Campground. Once we gained the ridge that leads to South Sister, the views are fantastic. The slog up the scree to South Sister seemed much better than previous years. It was not as loose. After taking a short break on South Sister, we started the traverse to North Sister. I cairn the point where the route drops off the ridge to the east. It's not obvious. The route soon gains the ridge again and continues until the extremely hard to find class 2 chute that descends to the base of the ridge. Here's the trick: When you think you are at the end of the ridge, keep going. The ridge drops down to another level. This is where the class 2 chute is located. We placed several cairns to mark this spot. They should help hikers this summer, but might not survive next winter's snow.
Once off the ridge we followed the route over to the base of the North Sister. I have been doing a shortcut for several years now, but have not written it up. I did not find the correct chute, instead we ascended one of the loosest chutes in Mt. Charleston! That was fun, NOT. There was an exposed traverse at the top of the chute that got the blood pressure to rise. The summit stood just above the traverse.
The descent off of North Sister was loose as always, but it is short lived. We then headed south down a slope and into a drainage that lead to the road. In the past I have hopped out of that drainage and into another more westerly drainage. I found out that is a waste of time.