North Twin- North Face G.Lowe & C.Jones Ascent 75-76

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 27, 2009 - 03:06pm PT
In the annals of North American climbing history few, if any, adventures rival this one! One look at this huge wall defines big, bold and badass, Canadian Rockies style. Truly a cut above anything else done at the time in terms of commitment and style.
Beyond inspiring, this is pure alpinism. The real deal anywhere, any time.

















Walleye

climber
Duluth Bucko, you can get Tierra Del Fuego
Jun 27, 2009 - 03:22pm PT
Agreed with a mighty HARUMPH!
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Jun 27, 2009 - 03:55pm PT
Back in the early 60s in the Valley, Ed Cooper (FA Dihedral Wall) mentioned the North Face of North Twin. Ambitious as he was, he wanted no part of it. He said that if anyone was going to try it, he would do the (long) hike in just to watch. He said "It could kill 50 people before it was ever climbed".
hobo_dan

Social climber
Minnesota
Jun 27, 2009 - 03:58pm PT
when I reached the shoulder I glanced over at our face.................I was impressed


That is the best
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Jun 27, 2009 - 04:03pm PT
I truly envied Chris and George their amazing experience on this great face.

-JelloInTheRockies
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 27, 2009 - 04:23pm PT
Jeff- do you recall what George had to say about the experience after it was done? Not very many climbers could relate to that particular adventure as peers outside the Lowe clan, I wouldn't imagine.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jun 27, 2009 - 04:36pm PT
George is now 65 and still as eager as ever. We are going to the Sierra's on 7/24 and will likely be the only 131 year old rope team in the area. It will be my first extended climbing with George since Latok1, hopefully we will eat better. If any of you are going to the Incredible Hulk or the Whitney area we may run into you. Jeff, see you on the 23rd.
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Jun 27, 2009 - 04:48pm PT
Steve, I just remember George being heavily - almost at a spiritual level - moved by the experience of the climb. They really passed the point of no return. They only carried about 9 pins, a small rack of nuts, and an ice screw or two. They had underestimated the technical difficulty, but proceeded, anyway, until they were so high they couldn't retreat. Then George took a big fall. They spent that night huddled in their limp tent fabric, absolutely doubting their ability to go up, down or sideways in the morning. The amazing traverse and rappell into the upper ice gully the next morning was their miraculous path to salvation.

-Jello

edit- yes, see you on the 23rd, Jim.
rick d

climber
tucson, az
Jun 27, 2009 - 07:18pm PT
bad ass are the two words to describe that ascent.

what, 3 ascents of the wall thusfar and no one wanting to completely follow the route of the others?
Captain...or Skully

Social climber
North of the Owyhees
Jun 27, 2009 - 07:25pm PT
Some Serious Shiz, there.....Like someone told me once, Up there, it's Real.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 27, 2009 - 07:47pm PT
Jim- ask George if he would care to join in the discussion here. I would love to hear what thirty years of reflection on this route would amount to.

Chris Jones' thoughts would be pretty amazing too!
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Jun 27, 2009 - 07:52pm PT
One of the great alpine adventures of all time.
Jim or Jeff, you guys should talk to George about joining the campfire here.
Rick
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Jun 27, 2009 - 09:44pm PT
That climb is one of the handful so out there as to defy understanding.
yo

climber
a tied-off Tomahawk™
Jun 27, 2009 - 09:50pm PT
Those closeups, George looking up, Chris looking down, man, that says it all, don't it.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Jun 27, 2009 - 10:41pm PT
What's the history of that terrible wall in terms of ascents??

JL
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Jun 27, 2009 - 10:55pm PT
What's the history of that terrible wall in terms of ascents??

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I know it's only see two more ascents. Blanchard & Cheesemond in 1985, and more recently Steve House and Marko Pezelj. I think that's it. Barry and Cheese did a new route, and I think so did House and Prezelj.

It's about 4,500 vertical feet of climbing, remote, and kinda serious.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Jun 27, 2009 - 11:09pm PT
Looking at those pics it makes the wall look like a breaking wave of grey shale, hellish to set anchors, and probably raining debris day and night. Take a ripper on that shite and it's lucky if anything hold at all - and that's only judging on the pics. Perhaps it was even worse.

JL
Reilly

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Jun 27, 2009 - 11:17pm PT
Greatest alpine climb done since the Eiger.
Lambone

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Jun 27, 2009 - 11:36pm PT
cool, hail to canadian choss walls!
smith curry

climber
nashville,TN
Jun 28, 2009 - 09:09am PT
Yep, and the House route is more of a variation...
Tami

Social climber
Vancouver, Canada
Jun 28, 2009 - 09:20am PT
I'd go on a limb here to suggest the North Face North Twin is more heinous ( but less storied ) then the Mordwand. Having climbed neither but only ogled the Eiger and never seen NT, I'm guessing........but given the paucity of ascents and that , as already said, none have followed the exact same route.........the FA of the North Twin was , and is, sick sick sick in terms of it's out-thereishness.

I wonder if we could encourage Bubba to get on this silly forum to speak to his ascent with the Cheese ? Hmmm........
TwistedCrank

climber
Ideeho-dee-do-dah-day
Jun 28, 2009 - 09:51am PT
George Lowe's account in AAJ:

http://www.americanalpineclub.org/documents/pdf/aaj/1975/01_lowe_twin_aaj1975.pdf

well beyond badass
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Jun 28, 2009 - 10:09am PT
Thanks to Steve for bringing back another gem from the vaults. That was surely the most intimidating Ascent cover ever, with an epic story to match.

There's a fine and well-illustrated story about North Twin written by Steve House in Alpinist 8, as well.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 28, 2009 - 11:05am PT
The Cheesmond photo of the routes under discussion from Sean Dougherty's Selected Alpine Climbs, 1991.



The North Pillar route is all the more impressive for its predominantly free FA at 5.10d! Nothing but proud efforts here!

How many repeats on the original North Face route?!?
Pappy

Trad climber
Atlanta
Jun 28, 2009 - 12:47pm PT
Neither of the pictured routes have been repeated, although I think the Lowe/Jones has seen several attempts. The House route goes up the ice to the right and then traverses in to the '74 route. NFNT is still on my wish list, along with another, more reasonable, Lowe route--NF Alberta.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 28, 2009 - 02:14pm PT
Formidable climbs, by formidable climbers.

The 1974 route doesn't seem to have been reported in the 1975 Canadian Alpine Journal, except perhaps as a note that escaped the indexer. (North Twin is indexed as "Twin, North".)

There' a report in the CAJ for 1983 (page 92) of a partial repeat of the Lowe-Jones. (Jones-Lowe? Should it be alphabetical?) "In the first week of July 1982, Urs Kallen, Tim Friesen and David Cheesmond repeated the first two-thirds of the Jones/Lowe route. Except for two aid points we free climbed both the first two rock bands (5.10) and the intermediate ice slopes. The top rock band was streaming with water from the ice plastered on top and we were forced to by-pass this by traversing to the ridge on the left. Thus a new variation was climbed - Traverse of the Chickens."

There doesn't seem to be an account of the 1985 Cheesmond-Blanchard route on North Twin in the CAJ. It takes an entirely separate line from the Jones-Lowe.

The summers of 1974 and 1985 were notable for exceptionally long dry warm spells, especially 1985.

The CAJ for 2005 (page 8) contains a long account by Marco Prezelj of his and Steve House's ascent, and other adventures, such as the approach and descent. Also, House dropped the outer shell of one of his boots on the third day (of five). Their route joins the Jones-Lowe at about 2/3 height. I believe the climb was done in spring of 2004 or 2005 - March or April. It appears that spring is becoming a common season for major routes in the Rubblies, given reasonably decent and not too cold weather, longer days, and reasonably stable snow to hold the 'rock' in place.
Pappy

Trad climber
Atlanta
Jun 28, 2009 - 05:26pm PT
There is an account of the Cheese/Bubba climb in Climbing #94.
east side underground

Trad climber
Hilton crk,ca
Jun 28, 2009 - 08:10pm PT
after reading that account,I realize that I'm really a wanker, Lowe and jones are real climbers. Bad ASS
Cloudraker

Big Wall climber
BC
Jun 28, 2009 - 09:27pm PT
Ian Welsted and Chris Brazeau did an attempt on the North Face of North Twin in 2005, reaching a point directly below the upper ice fields but had to retreat and rappel the entire route when falling rock shattered Welsted's elbow. He wrote about the experience titled 'Dead' in the 2005 Canadian Alpine Journal. If I'm not mistaken they were going for a variation on one of the existing routes.
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Jun 28, 2009 - 09:42pm PT
Always thought it would be cool to eliminate the small amount of aid on the Cheesemond/Blanchard route. An exciting marriage of free climbing and alpinism. Also, I think it's probably the safest route on the wall.

-JelloIsStillJealous
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Jun 29, 2009 - 12:35am PT
Bump! These guys hung it way, way, way out there providing themselves and us, who read the accounts, a huge adventure in the true spirit of climbing.

Bruce
GDavis

Trad climber
Jun 29, 2009 - 01:25am PT
What an amazing thing...
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Jun 29, 2009 - 07:36am PT
I recently saw a video of Tommy Caldwell climbing on El Cap and thought to myself, in terms of ability, I'm probably closer to the late John Candy than Tommy. With exploits such as George and Chris's on the North Face of North Twin, it's quite different. George always keeps himself in impeccable shape, but he's not at the far reaches of the climbing ability normal distribution curve. It's the mental toughness and balls factor that got 'em through this one. One of the great adventure exploits of all time.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Jun 29, 2009 - 08:28am PT
It's no wonder they didn't take much gear.

They had to make allowance for the giant ballsacks they would be dragging along......
hobo_dan

Social climber
Minnesota
Jun 29, 2009 - 04:15pm PT
How does this compare for Balls to the East ridge of Deborah-Crux 100 feet of overhanging snow. i think only one ascent
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 29, 2009 - 05:58pm PT
Both are real mountains done by real alpinists.


From Ascent 73, Canadian Faces in Winter- Jim Stuart photos.
taylor

Social climber
the local crag
Jun 30, 2009 - 02:15am PT
climbs like this set the standard. even 30 years later with modern gear that level of climbing is only for the truly brave. good to know that there are places where adventure will never be completely lost.
Hurtin Albertan

Mountain climber
Canmore, Alberta
Jun 30, 2009 - 06:05am PT
For me the North Face of North Twin all revolves around George. I first saw the face in September of 1982 when Albi Sole and I made the pilgrimage to Wooley Shoulder for an attempt on George and Jock Glidden's route on the North Face of Mt Alberta, which at the time had become the grail for me largely because there was post card sized picture of it in the old, old guidebook (a picture is worth a 1000 ...). There was no picture of North Twin and that is appropriate as a picture can't capture it. It is breath taking to see, dark, brooding, convex. I think that it was Henry Abrons who said it acts like a drug on the mind. It is like the Eiger in that respect, but without the cows with bells and chalets with flowers below it, you get grizzly bears and glaciers instead.

The first winter snows came and Albi and I never left the glacier, but I'd been beneath the North Face of Mt Alberta! The next summer (a far more appropriate time to be there than Sept, but that was before the latest push into winter climbing) Gregg Cronn and I went in and made the 3rd ascent of the NF of Alberta and on the way out, a day late and nearly a rescue short, I saw the NF of North Twin during the one hour of early morning light when the sun illuminates the North Pillar like a brandished sword. I felt like Gregory Peck in MacKinna's Gold, the sun had shown me the treasure. As Marko Prezlj said, "The pillar, that's the route". I was obsessed, along with a dozen other alpinists who had seen it, one of whom was, of course, George, and another was David Cheesmond who had climbed with George on the East Face of Mt Everest in 1983 (the Lowe Buttress).

It all revolves around George. I got to climb with him and Carl Tobin in the winter of 1984 (the crux of the East Ridge of Mt Deborah was led by Carl who climbed a lot with George). We made an attempt on the East Face of Mt Chephren and when I swayed the vote of our team the morning of day two in the snowcave, sitting out a storm, so I could be at an Everest meeting for our 1986 siege expedition because I naively thought that that was important, George wanted to stay and lie out the storm and continue. And he set me straight, although I couldn't hear it at the time, when he said, "this is were its at". And herein lies one of the tenants of George's climbing, and I'd love to know where he got it from, I assume that it was Cassin and Bonatti: George knows that adventure lies in approaching an unclimbed steep mountain wall that is draped in glaciation, brazed with ice, and buttressed with soaring rock walls; and, and this is THE most important part: a rack, a rope, and the pack on your back ... no bolts.

Dave Cheesmond and I planned and schemed and got it together to try the North Pillar in late July 1985, and George tried to scoop us! He came up the week before, and he bought Alex Lowe! (contrary to popular assumption, not related) a mercurial magician on a mountain wall. Thank the lord it rained. Great quote when Dave protested over the phone to George, "George, I've been looking at the Pillar for ten years", "well ya Cheese, I've been looking at it for twenty".

Alex and I went on to become good friends and we got to climb together. We had a discussion about George's commitment at one point trying to understand where George drew the line. It was much farther out there than either Alex and I did, but it is there. George wouldn't be here if it wasn't. For Cassin it seems like Alpinism was the theatre for proving life itself and storms were just part of that, you climbed up through them. It seems like he had to take casualties before he would retreat. Alex and I were good at retreating. George is to the Cassin side somewhere, not all the way there but further than Alex and I. We concluded that George is just tougher and that spending time in that place has allowed him to glean more from the mountain. He knows more than Alex or I knew and this is incredible because, as a professional mountain guide, I undoubtably have more days in the mountains than George ... something to be said for commitment.

Dave and I climbed the North Pillar and it, like George and Chris's route, has yet to see a second ascent. There are some good reasons for that. We had the best chance of success given good rock climbing conditions. To get good rock climbing conditions you need good weather and heat, that combination brings the wall to life. A waterfall forms from the summit rim and it falls free into space, the rockfall on the lower catchment ledges is breathtaking, and it can take your life away. Dave and I felt like we were making a WW II beach landing and we sprinted up sliding plates of shale to get to the next rock band and plaster ourselves against it for protection. No small feat given heavy packs.

Half of the rock on North Twin is good, some of it is even splitter. When you get to the steep rock the rockfall that bombards the lower face screams by a hundred feet out in the air, and it calms down when the sun leaves the face an hour after rising, and an hour before setting. Some of the bad stone is about as bad as it gets for frost shattered rock. Anchoring is often a challenge, some anchors may take 45 minutes for an experienced Rockies trad dad to build, but the security is there. I broke a hold on day two, sprained a tendon in my ring finger, and took a twenty footer onto good gear. Part of Dave's anchor failed on day four while I jumared up his A2 pitch, to quote Dave, "thank god the back up nuts held" (note that we had a number of pieces still in between us). Given my injured finger, Dave took the lion's share and he climbed brilliantly, masterfully, he came up with 'grace under pressure', we got fully committed.

Both Dave and I had been mentored by George. I like to think that I've had some influence on Steve House during all our climbing together and isn't that an interesting connection? The North Face of North Twin revolves around George.

Marko and Steve's ascent was in early April and is a winter ascent despite the rule book on the season. It commonly gets down to -25 celcius on the Columbia Icefield at night in early April. What blew my mind was looking at the pictures of Steve and Marko drytooling 3000 feet up the snow plastered rock of North Twin ... modern alpinism. I'd never seen pictures like that anywhere before. And consider this, no rockfall.

All three routes will be repeated in time. As Steve pointed out you have to go. Even if you never step foot on the face to see that cirque is worth the walk. It is one of the great mountainscapes of North America.

As George knows, you have to commit.

Happy trails,
Barry Blanchard
rick d

climber
tucson, az
Jun 30, 2009 - 06:51am PT
welcome Barry!

you sir, are as bad ass as the best of them.
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Jun 30, 2009 - 07:15am PT
Hey Barry

You in NZ yet? Thought I heard you were packing up and leaving AB for good?

Anyway, good to hear from you, if only via this stupid forum.

David Harris
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Jun 30, 2009 - 07:21am PT
A new generation of forum spambots working hard ^^^
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Jun 30, 2009 - 07:39am PT
Wow Barry,

That is quite a post. Very beautiful and powerful.
Thanks so much for adding to the thread, and for having the sack to get up there!
rick d

climber
tucson, az
Jun 30, 2009 - 07:57am PT
This thread is real climbing. Alpine climbing is the sum of all other forms done in environments with objective hazards to spice things up. Two men and a rope. Comparing "Climbing" mag's 'hot flashes' of the latest 5.15a test piece is really irrelevant vs. alpinism. I once thought rock climbing on sound rock, in the sun, daytime temps 75+/- degrees was all that was important. Others were silly to venture out in cold weather, climb poor rock, walk for days to get there, etc. I have realized in the last 20 years that it is in those 'remote' places where sh#t happens.

Less than 10 ascents makes a route worth repeating. Less than 5 makes it o so desirable. The second can be coveted. A first, is well... breaking new ground.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 30, 2009 - 08:09am PT
"The absolute technical limit of difficulty was reached long ago."
O. W. Steiner, Vienna 1962 as quoted by Messner in The Seventh Grade.

Difficulty is as much a function of style as it is overcoming the "hardest" section on a given route. The raw demands placed on spirit, courage and fortitude are what make this route shine.
RDB

Social climber
way out there
Jun 30, 2009 - 08:39am PT
Great recap Barry.

"Even if you never step foot on the face to see that cirque is worth the walk. It is one of the great mountainscapes of North America."

Most everyone here has been to the base of El Cap. Remember the first time you saw it? The awe?

The cirque on the other side of Wooley Shoulder is truely amazing. The north faces of Alberta, Twins, Columbia are all there. And for me more inspiring and scary every visit than my first view of El Cap. Which is saying a lot.

Back in the day...no hut.. at the end of a full days walk, after first fording the river in the middle of nowhere. One day back to the road if you don't climb a thing. But the committment level to actually get on any of the faces back there might well be trying.

Deborah or N. Twin? Between the two it felt more isolated at N. Twin in the late '70s. Eiger can't hold a candle to either.

philo

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Jun 30, 2009 - 09:18am PT
"It's no wonder they didn't take much gear.

They had to make allowance for the giant ballsacks they would be dragging along......"

Survival that was a HOOT!
Conrad

climber
Jun 30, 2009 - 09:53am PT
Nice & sweet climbing thread.



George on the Salathe above the ear '06.



On the headwall.

Thanks Steve for the "history channel" feature and hello Barry.

We'll get George by the fire, by George.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 30, 2009 - 09:58am PT
Marvellous stuff! Perhaps someone could recruit Chris, to round things out. He certainly has a talent for history, stories, and writing - not to mention climbing.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 30, 2009 - 10:39am PT
A big welcome to Barry!!! You have chased after more big, frosty Canadian dragons than just about anyone. Thanks for pulling up a chair!

Say hi to Jenny for me, if you would, Conrad.

I'll see what I can do about Chris.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jun 30, 2009 - 12:10pm PT
Barry: Thank you so much for your very interesting post on the connections between George Lowe, yourself, Dave Cheesmond, Carl Tobin, and other legends.

Prior to your post I had been intrigued by Hobo Dan’s question comparing the amount of balls needed for North Face of North Twin vs The East Ridge of Deborah.

I dug out my issue of Mountain 96, which has an article on the first ascent of East Ridge of Deborah.

So------a quick comparison of balls needed results in a tie. Both teams had giant brass cojones that normal mortals would be hard pressed to carry, let alone climb with.

North Face of North Twin brass-ball points: A new route on a face that had not been explored, done in true alpine style by a two-man team that barely pulled it off. Minimal equipment and bad weather on a 7 day epic. Oh-and Grizzlies and untrod wilderness for much of the approach.

Points subtracted: They were required to register for the climb by the Park Service ----thus when they were overdue: a helicopter came looking for them. It was unlikely that they could have been rescued off the N. Face.

E. Ridge of Deborah brass-ball points: A remote route in a remote area with a big reputation from previous failures. The route featured horrible rock and heavy snowfall, with that crux-pitch of over-hanging snow-ice. “Protection” for the pitch were pickets: that were shoved in by hand and removed the same way. In case of accident: outside rescue was very unlikely to occur.

Points subtracted: They flew into the base of the mountain and had some prior knowledge of the route. There were two parties totaling 5 climbers that came together on the route, and the first 1/3 of it was fixed.

After Barry’s post-----what wraps this all together is: one of the two parties on Deborah was his friends Carl Tobin, and Dave Cheesmond. Carl lead the crux pitch.

It was a “small world” of alpine hardmen in the 1970’s and 80’s in North America.


My photo of North Face of Deborah with East Ridge on the left. I recall vertical rise from base of mountain to top is about 8,000 feet.
RDB

Social climber
way out there
Jun 30, 2009 - 01:08pm PT
"It was a “small world” of alpine hardmen in the 1970’s and 80’s in North America.

For things like N Twin, Alberta, Deborah it still is.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jun 30, 2009 - 02:02pm PT
Thank you Barry, for breathing life into the Forum.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jun 30, 2009 - 02:41pm PT
Barry,

Thank you very much. This is a masterful piece of writing, something I have come to expect out of you, and I so appreciate your showing up and giving this your full focus of measured attention.

The seriousness of this face and what it draws from the very few who will commit to even just the approach, is reflected deeply in the tone of this thread. In that sense it echoes the other beyond-serious thread here currently, the one on the Bachar-Yerian.

Tami has to be right: this is way beyond the Mordwand.
Reilly

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Jun 30, 2009 - 03:36pm PT
"this is way beyond the Mordwand"

Put on your hobnails, front-pointless crampons, straight-picked axes, cotton anoraks, and contemplate the 'Mordwand' in context.
Clearly North Twin is a quantum leap technically and psychologically but the 'Mordwand' was an equally grand step at its time, n'est-ce pas?
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jun 30, 2009 - 03:55pm PT
You're right Reilly, which is why it's hard to compare eras. Each generation builds on the preceding one. The guiding lights of each age had different equipment, training and information but they all the same visionary mindset.
hobo_dan

Social climber
Minnesota
Jun 30, 2009 - 04:16pm PT
Dang Barry!
That was a wonderful piece of writing. The old Hobo balls shriveled right up.
The hike in to Wooley shoulder sounds beautiful.
You have inspired me to grab a beer, throw something on the grill and plop my soft fat ass in a chair and read something adventurous
Thanks again for sharing
murf
Ezra

Social climber
WA, NC, Idaho Falls
Jun 30, 2009 - 07:15pm PT
Thank you all for a great climbing thread!
Bump for the real deal!
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jun 30, 2009 - 09:30pm PT
Only alpine epics gossip here. Bump for this real climbing thread!
Tami

Social climber
Vancouver, Canada
Jun 30, 2009 - 11:12pm PT
Dammmit Bubba, with you here now this forum really has gone to the dogs. Next thing ya know Dornian will be postin :-D
Love to you as always.
Say, aren't you fifty now ?
I"m NOT

BIG FEKKIN GRIN

BUMP FOR A REALLY COOOOOOOOLIO THREAD ABOUT A REEEEEUL MTN and REAAAAAL PEOPLE WHOOVE CLIMBED IT !!!

YEY

YEY

YEY
RDB

Social climber
way out there
Jul 1, 2009 - 06:50am PT
While I haven't climbed any of them, I have climbed on them :)
No question, different generations build on those that came before them. Then there are a few guys in every generation who just go out and take a big step forward all on their own. Not that they would ever see it that way. Pretty obvious to us who they are.

When you make comparisons between Deborah, N Twin and the Eiger I see them in my own memory.

In '76 Fritz and I and two others went to the the north side of Deborah for a month or so. We were flown in and out. And had a radio.

In '78/'79 two of us I went over Wooley shoulder thinking we would climb the north face of Alberta. In '80 three of us went back in again.

In '78 two of us got part way up the N. face of the Eiger.

I did less climbing over Wooley shoulder than on any of the other two trips and way, way more walking.

Of the three locations the isolation and seriousness of that cirque on the other side of the Columbia ice fields is stark in comparison. A black hole. Anyone that gets up a climb, any climb, in there has my respect.

And to think for most of us that adventure is a lot closer than getting to Deborah or the Eiger.
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Jul 1, 2009 - 09:25am PT
Unbelievable--and I've got a copy of that
Ascent. Inspiring, AWESOME.


My hat's off to Jones & Lowe, and the rest of the posters here.
And of course to our resident historian, Mr. Grossman!!!
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Jul 1, 2009 - 09:27am PT
The North Pillar of North Twin is a fitting memorial for Dave. I miss him. Great post Barry.
Every era has featured only a small group of people putting up the hard alpine climbs in the Rockies. You can't appreciate how committing these climbs are (for small peaks generally close to the road) unless you have done a technical route up here. As the Big Cheese said "If you can climb here you can climb anywhere"
huh

climber
anchorage
Jul 1, 2009 - 12:29pm PT
Respecting Cheesemond's legacy, he and I touched the Brit party's fixed ropes only to flick them out of our way for a couple of days of climbing. After merging our efforts, all of us moved up in alpine style. As for the "crux", I thought some of the mixed pitches were hard as hell and Cheese was the definite star there. His comment: "If this was in the Rockies, it would have been climbed 10 years ago!"

At the time, I was one of 3 people in the world whose main title was "technical snow expert". Not only that, but all 3 lived in Fairbanks and of those 3, I was never far from the top! So, the "crux", for me, was casual and I was surprised someone even mentioned in a set of postings dealing with "sacred" topics. Those Brits, they can get a person worked up with their writing, "demented spiders", and such.

After Deborah, Dave and I skied over to MT. Hayes and did a new route on the west face, and then we skied and floated to the Denali highway. Cheese had been there before, walking in the year before with some of his SA friends, and then walking out just before starvation set in a month later, since their air drop never occurred.

NT in 74 was the sh#t really. Bubba's and Cheese's ascent was great. As for Deb E. Ridge, it was my 2nd ascent of mountain. I reckon there could be another in me sometime.

As for George, he is a good man.

As for quotes by a person who is involved in this series of postings, who said, "Why get married, find a woman you hate and buy her a house?". Hint: not Tami.
Tami

Social climber
Vancouver, Canada
Jul 1, 2009 - 10:55pm PT
BUMP



and


to answer ^^^

DONINI


HAHAHA
RDB

Social climber
way out there
Jul 1, 2009 - 11:16pm PT
Hey Carl, welcome to the Taco.
Long time since Quartz Hill :)

For those that missed it, over the years Carl has done two new routes on Deborah among his other wanderings.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 2, 2009 - 08:19am PT
Another big welcome to Carl!
I posted this shot of Deborah from Climbing ih North America on the Tony Qamar thread in hopes of a tale or two. This pool has some big fish in it! East ridge on the right side of the summit pyramid.



And a Galen Rowell shot from the southwest from Fred Beckey's Mountains of North America, 1982.

Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Jul 2, 2009 - 08:38am PT
Fantastic!

-Brian in SLC
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 2, 2009 - 07:00pm PT
George's account from the 75 AAJ.

















The "oh, god" is certainly in the details...
east side underground

Trad climber
Hilton crk,ca
Jul 2, 2009 - 09:07pm PT
The Lowes are a core group.I'm curious which are related ? Ok you got George Lowe from the first asscent of Everst from NZ, George Lowe III from North Twin, Jeff Lowe (jello- love that handle), Greg Lowe, and Alex Lowe-????
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jul 3, 2009 - 07:52am PT
All you need to know about all things LOWE, by YO.
Post #20...

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=170191&tn=0
east side underground

Trad climber
Hilton crk,ca
Jul 3, 2009 - 08:02am PT
thanks tarbuster for the "LOWE" down.:)
Tami

Social climber
Vancouver, Canada
Jul 3, 2009 - 09:11am PT
Bump for the thread but a big smack to esu for the lowe blow.
stich

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Jul 5, 2009 - 03:05pm PT
Twin bump
Farmboy

climber
Oregon
Jul 6, 2009 - 05:58am PT
Barry sent me this way and it is interesting to see-read how much people have thought about the NF of NT. After Marko and I made the third ascent of the wall (by a variation of the 74 route), Marko, overwhelmed by the maelstrom of response, editors wanting photos and words, people writing him notes, he told me: What is this North Twin? I just want my life back! Something about that face, people just respond to it.

I have said this before, and I will say it again. The Lowe-Jones route was, in my opinion, the hardest alpine route anywhere in the world at the time it was established. Never mind the storm, the dropped gear, the fact that it was an unexplored wall. Just stick to the technical difficulty, and was the biggest, baddest thing that had been done. I have repeated another route that I once considered contender for that title, the SE (July 74) Buttress (Rowell-Roberts-Ed?) on Mt. Dickey and it was not nearly as difficult as the climbing on the NFNT.

Regarding my own experience on the NFNT I will say this, it ranks among the most rewarding of my life. The atmosphere of the place, the quality of the climbing, the way the route was climbable, barely. 99% of the rock was splitter-good as we found it in winter. The loose stuff Barry talks of must have been buried or frozen when we were there. The steeper it was, the better the rock, just how you would like to find it. As Marko kept exclaiming as we were climbing, the rock is virtually made for drytooling. The cracks are thin (pick-size), and there are many tiny flat edges to front point on. I had the same experience last year climbing another variation to another Lowe route on the North Face of Alberta. The rock back there is great for this kind of climbing. Probably better than in summer, as Barry points out, in summer it is extremely dangerous but in four days on the wall in early april Marko and I never saw a natural rock fall event.

Another aspect of our climb in April 04 that added to the experience was that because of the size and remoteness the NFNT demanded that we go really light. We had one bag, one 5x8 ft. guide tarp, 5 fuel cannisters and not nearly enough food. We each wore exactly the same clothing: a capilene shirt, insulated soft-shell jacket and pants plus a synthetic belay jacket each. That was it. We often led in the parkas and at the belays we shivered a lot. The leader lead with a near-empty pack and the second carried about 25 lbs to start with.

I know that the CAJ ran an article that Marko wrote and I wrote a piece that appeared in Alpinist. I do not remember the numbers or issues, and as I am currently poaching internet downvalley of Chamonix I am unable to look that up. I also dedicated an entire chapter to this climb in my book that is out in a month or so.

As an aside I just came off guiding the Croz Spur on the Grande Jorasses yesterday. This is a more serious wall than the Eiger Nordwand in my humble opinion. And one thing that struck me was that at least 20 helicopters flew by us each day. I could get weather updates by text on my cell phone. The Alps are great, but the Canadian Rockies they are not.

As I was writing this some one just told me John Bachar died yesterday. That is a fist to the heart. I guess I will post anyway.
Steve House
rufus

climber
Jul 6, 2009 - 10:47pm PT
steve, could you say more about your book -- is it climbing narrative or how-to? who's the publisher and when does it hit the shelves?

great thread.
426

Sport climber
Buzzard Point, TN
Jul 17, 2009 - 10:13am PT
bump, save us from these guys as per donini.

marty(r)

climber
beneath the valley of ultravegans
Jul 17, 2009 - 12:48pm PT
Farmboy--I loved that line that Marko's pack was lighter because it wasn't burdened by the weight of history. You guys who've climbed North Twin sure have pushed the boat into the deep water!
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Jul 17, 2009 - 01:55pm PT
link for Steve's new book:

Beyond the Mountain (Hardcover)
by Steve House (Author)
Publisher: Patagonia Inc (September 1, 2009)
http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Mountain-Steve-House/dp/097906595X/

not released yet, but avail. for pre-order...

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 8, 2009 - 06:10pm PT
Big Twin bump!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 22, 2009 - 10:18am PT
Not far away is the other half of George's Top Hat Trick, the North Face of Alberta. Another amazing big route pulled off in fine style. The stuff of alpine dreams.....From Ascent 73.







Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Aug 22, 2009 - 10:32am PT
I picked up Steve House's book, "Beyond the Mountain" and just finished reading it a couple of weeks ago.

I highly recommend it as it has all the makings of a modern classic. The writing is engrossing and remarkably frank and revealing about many of Steve's well-known ascents, partnerships in the mountains and life on the cutting edge.
A great read!!

Great Job Steve!!! Thanks for publishing this.

Regards,
Jack
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 22, 2009 - 12:20pm PT
Any memorable passages about North Twin?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 26, 2009 - 08:01am PT
Bump for Wee Jock and Lucas!

How are these two climbs regarded in European circles?
Pate

Trad climber
The High And Lonely
Sep 18, 2009 - 05:39pm PT
bump. sweet thread.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 19, 2009 - 11:18am PT
A good friend of mine, Scott Ayers, sent me an e-mail quite awhile back that relates to this thread. About time that I post it...

There is a book I've been reading since I've been here in Calgary, called "Pushing the Limits; The Story of Canadian Mountaineering" by Chic Scott. So much excellent content; it really puts into perspective how amazing the alpine routes are here in this part of the Rockies. I highly recommend you get a copy, as it will simultaneously give you dreams and nightmares if you read it before going to bed...


Anyway, in the book the author talks about the Lowe/Jones route on North Twin, and there was a quote from Chris Jones that is so perfectly suited for your thread, that I thought I would share it with you.


Chic Scott writes, "It was the two finest American alpinists of the era who had the temerity to take up the challenge. On August 5, 1974, Chris Jones and George Lowe forded the Sunawapta River and began the hike over the shoulder of Mt. Woolley. Jones described how he felt. " 'In a few minutes we would be at Woolley Shoulder, and I would have my first view of the fabled north face of North Twin. I became strangely detached. I saw George Lowe and myself as figures in the past. I saw our attempt as something that happened long ago. There was a clear sense that it had some meaning for future generations, but what it was I could not say. More important, I knew this would be a very personal moment. I was intrigued to know my limits; wanted to push myself as never before. I had a feeling that North Twin might provide the answer.' "

They knew the job was dangerous when they took it...great stuff!


Pate

Trad climber
Dec 19, 2009 - 11:48am PT
This is by far the best reading material yet during this 3 hour delay at DIA.

David Wilson

climber
CA
Jan 13, 2010 - 01:32pm PT
this image is taken form the japanese route on alberta. north twin is on the left looking big, dark and somber. it was scary just looking over there..

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 13, 2010 - 06:56pm PT
Excellent photo, Dave! It really shows how enormous an undertaking that route is. Plenty of climbing to the summit from the end of the steepness and then the descent! Way impressive...
John_Box

Ice climber
Bellingham
Jan 13, 2010 - 07:34pm PT
Ahh it doesn't look that bad... till you convert the inches into thousands of feet. One of my favorite threads, thanks a ton for posting.
David Wilson

climber
CA
Jan 13, 2010 - 07:34pm PT
it was 81 when we were there on alberta and the lowe/jones had obviously been done. yet, looking over at north twin was like looking into mordor. the sounds of rockfall echoed strong warnings around that cirque. that face has some serious gravity...
BASE104

climber
An Oil Field
Jan 13, 2010 - 09:07pm PT
I always preach this to people who only rock climb. When you take it to the mountains, you are in a whole new world of peril. BASE jumping back in the old and dirty days of crappy gear, broken bones, and death, was nowhere near as bad as climbing stuff in the mountains. And I ain't talking the Sierra here. In the summer, anyway.

I read "Climbing in North America" by Chris Jones when I was a young and impressionable boy. It talked about the NFNT route and it sounded pretty horrendous. The kind of stuff that only a 15 year old can aspire to. Good god did that thing ever look beautiful from a distance and ugly up close (from the pictures).

White Spider is the book that changed my life. I never did the Eiger, although I went over there to do it once. I spent almost a week at the base and never saw above the second icefield. Is that little 5 foot by 5 foot shephard's hut dug into the hillside still there? I gave up and hitched back to Cham.

You can hike back to Grindelwald for beer from the Eiger. It is pretty ugly up close, as well. I would like to hear Jello's stories on that face some day.

My opinion is that the guys who do this stuff are animals, and I have always thought that. If you just climb rock in the sun in a good climate, you have no idea of the misery...And rockfall coming by just missing you. It is like tossing softballs at one of those dunk the jerk rigs at the circus. Sooner or later one will have your name on it. Minimizing exposure to that stuff is one of the most important things, and you have to climb fast with almost no pro.

That is my interpretation of alpinism in general. Kind of backseat driving to this crowd.
prunes

climber
Jan 13, 2010 - 09:50pm PT
stormy weather and the north face of twin
stormy weather and the north face of twin
Credit: prunes
prunes

climber
Jan 13, 2010 - 09:53pm PT
Mt Alberta
Mt Alberta
Credit: prunes
prunes

climber
Jan 13, 2010 - 09:57pm PT
Japanese route on Mt Alberta some of the ledges where covered in Trylo...
Japanese route on Mt Alberta some of the ledges where covered in Trylobites
Credit: prunes
BASE104

climber
An Oil Field
Jan 13, 2010 - 10:02pm PT
Credit: BASE104
Trilobites? They were placed by the great flood!

Eiger N Face: The most of it I ever saw.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 14, 2010 - 08:53am PT
Hopefully Chris Jones will weigh in here at some point! I talked to him about joining in a while back so with any luck...Somebody prompt Greg to pull up a chair!!! I sure would love to see some more images from either of these big routes.
Hurtin Albertan

Mountain climber
Canmore, Alberta
Jan 21, 2010 - 11:21am PT
Hi All

I've posted bunch of seldom seen pictures from Dave Cheesmond and my ascent of the North Pillar:

http://www.barryblanchard.ca/northtwin

Hope you enjoy them.

Barry

David Wilson

climber
CA
Jan 21, 2010 - 11:48am PT
barry, thanks for those incredible photos! what an amazing journey that was.
rick d

climber
ol pueblo, az
Jan 21, 2010 - 01:17pm PT
barry-

wow!
Cloudraker

Big Wall climber
BC
Jan 21, 2010 - 01:49pm PT
Barry those photos are killer!
Tami

Social climber
Canada
Jan 21, 2010 - 03:21pm PT
Bubba thanks for those pix. SICK !!!!

Glad yer still around. Sorry the Cheese isn't. He was cuter then you :-D
Reilly

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Jan 22, 2010 - 12:09am PT
Nah, we ain't lettin' this gem slip backwards quite yet.

Barry, while those vintage slides do have a certain charm I would
love to see them properly scanned and 'shopped'. There's
some real beauts there!
bmacd

Trad climber
Beautiful British Columbia
Jan 22, 2010 - 12:42pm PT
I'm feeling ill after looking at those pictures ...
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Mar 13, 2010 - 08:09pm PT
Good time to bump this.
Also, check out Barry's pictures: well worth a look.
MH2

climber
Mar 13, 2010 - 09:53pm PT
check out Barry's pictures

What a story they tell.
MMCC

climber
New Zealand
May 6, 2010 - 05:49pm PT
off the scale for badassness. Let's flash this one quickly across the front page, a futile exercise in kook-displacement.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
May 6, 2010 - 08:54pm PT
The bump is worth it even for those of us who have read this one from the start, just to make sure people click back a page and find the link to Barry's trip report.

Way cool.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 27, 2010 - 09:19am PT
Barry's TR is available here.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1066321&tn=0#msg1204165
myterious

Trad climber
Joshua Tree
Jun 27, 2010 - 09:31am PT

Cool, good to see some CA rockies action, doesn't seem like anyone goes up there anymore, haven't been there in a while myself.

MM
bmacd

climber
Relic Hominid
Sep 12, 2010 - 08:51pm PT
ended up here again from a link on Steve House.net
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 13, 2010 - 08:03am PT
The mountains wait patiently for us...
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Sep 13, 2010 - 08:19am PT
Can't even imagine, that place is seriously badass! Great pics Barry!
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Sep 13, 2010 - 11:31am PT
I was just getting into climbing in '75. I'll never forget that article. To my beginning mind it was nearly unbelievable. Would have been unbelievable without the photos and my knowing George previously.
It's still one of the great achievements, simply to have survived. The story has extra impact by the brevity of its telling. George and Chris together and separately are two of the most daring and accomplished mountaineers of the time. Several climbs come immediately to mind.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 25, 2010 - 03:50pm PT
George Lowe enter and sign in please!!!
marv

Mountain climber
Bay Area
Jan 5, 2011 - 07:31pm PT
grand cours bump!!!!
east side underground

Trad climber
Hilton crk,ca
Jan 5, 2011 - 08:07pm PT
what a cool thread, very humbling, north twin is such a gnarly mountain, can't imagine even thinking of attempting something on that scale, makes El Cap seem reasonable
marv

Mountain climber
Bay Area
Jan 15, 2011 - 06:41pm PT
I second the motion for George to ...

...

Enter the Taco
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
Jan 15, 2011 - 07:42pm PT
bump for climbing
marv

Mountain climber
Bay Area
Jan 15, 2011 - 07:44pm PT
just to clarify, by "Enter the Taco" I mean






Enter the Taco
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Jan 15, 2011 - 09:12pm PT
Great Thread bump!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jan 15, 2011 - 10:25pm PT
It looks impossibly difficult and dangerous -

A superhuman effort.

I climbed the Central Pillar of Frenzy with George around that year - man he must've been bored!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 16, 2011 - 09:49am PT
Bump for Mr. Jones...
east side underground

Trad climber
Hilton crk,ca
Feb 11, 2011 - 07:56am PT
bump for one of the best threads ever, c'mon Murry come on back with some of your 'ol skool gansta stories. cheers, murry :)
bmacd

Social climber
100% Canadian
Feb 17, 2011 - 06:46pm PT
No disrespect to anyone whom has climbed the North Face of North Twin - but theNE Face of Mt Slesse in British Columbia and was not climbed till 1997, is 3000 feet high and has repulsed all repeat attempts since then including a Colin Halely Team and a free climbing foray by Stanhope & Co.

http://colinhaley.blogspot.com/2009/08/slesse-east-face-attempt-or-why-sean.html

There is another 3000 foot north face on Mt MacDonald which has been climbed by Bruce Kay recently that you never hear much about, even though its a one hour hike to the base from the Trans-Canada Highway. Quartzite rock.

Canadian North Faces are still presenting lots of challenges for modern climbers
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 17, 2011 - 07:23pm PT
Bmacd, thanks for the tip of the hat but i must say (and I'm sure Sean and Dave would agree) that neither Macdonald or slesse quite stacks up against North twin for sheer burly- maybe winter could equalize things a bit!

but while we're on the subject... A number of americans over the years ( G Lowe and C Jones included) have put up some stelar routes in the Ramparts on splitter quartzite. Macdonald is also quartzite but its really just a rubble pile and it's so road side that its covered in graffiti, used condoms and busted bottles. No comparison. In 3 thousand feet of climbing we encountered only a body length of good stone. or maybe it was the other way around? well no matter, i wouldn't recommend it. just keep driving.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 28, 2011 - 08:49am PT
This classic climb just missed being included in Chris' stellar Climbing in North America and so slipped under the radar for a lot of people...

Tell us a story Mr. Jones...
Will clapp

Mountain climber
los angeles, CA
Jun 14, 2011 - 09:17pm PT
amazing thread for an amazing wall. I've really enjoyed reading everything I can about the north face of north twin. I'm going to be un in the canadian rockies this summer and I really want to make the hike up to wooley shoulder to see the views. Can someone tell me how long the hike is to the shoulder in miles or km? just curious. can it be done as a day hike?
marv

Mountain climber
Bay Area
Jun 14, 2011 - 09:30pm PT
sadly, even the approach has repelled North America's finest approachers. "Approaching" is a harsh mistress.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Jun 14, 2011 - 09:42pm PT
The approach to Wooley shoulder isn't so bad if you're not carrying much. Most of it is pleasant strolling past Cromwell and through some forest (you also have to cross the Sunwapta river -go early and take a towel and spare shoes). 2 or 3 hours to the col ought to do it. A very cool spot with north twin down in the hole and Alberta right there like some huge battle ship.

I assume most have seen the latest thread of J Kruk and H Kennedy doing battle on the N face?
Will clapp

Mountain climber
los angeles, CA
Aug 1, 2011 - 02:11am PT
hiked up to the shoulder last week and saw the famous view. I don't really know what to say about it. Being all alone up there and seeing that grim wall made me feel a bunch of different things. I'd say the quote about it acting like a drug on the mind is very accurate! I can't stop thinking about the hour i spent up there just staring at the face in absolute awe. i will say it was the most awe inspiring mountain view i've ever seen and the 4 hour walk up was completely worth it. I was SO miserable hiking up the scree pile of sh#t that is the woolley shoulder, but the view all of a sudden in your face made me completely forget about how much my legs were screaming at me from the exertion. what an amazing wilderness. It was my first time in the canadian rockies that week and the hike up to woolley shoulder was on my last day there. What a great way to say goodbye to the range. I can't wait to go back. such an
Credit: Will clapp
amazingly beautiful place. Its been really hard re-adjusting to the smog-scape of los angeles.
Riley Wyna

Trad climber
A crack near you
Aug 1, 2011 - 03:25am PT
Wow- amazing pics Barry
That rock quality looks way better than expected.
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Aug 11, 2011 - 11:06pm PT
incredible face: intimidating, grim, austere, remote, big.

wow.



thanks to SG for posting content. highlight of my week
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 12, 2011 - 08:36am PT
Thanks for saying so!
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Nov 28, 2011 - 06:02pm PT
Gotta like this one.
DRiggs

climber
Truckee, CA
Nov 28, 2011 - 07:44pm PT
If you like this thread, come out Sunday evening, December 4, to hear the story from the first ascentionists. George is the featured speaker and Chris will introduce him at the AAC Sierra Nevada Section's Annual Holiday Dinner in Berkeley. Details here:

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1654057&msg=1673094#msg1673094

$10 for the show. Doors open at 7:15. Bring your friends.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Nov 28, 2011 - 09:57pm PT
wow what a thread...why fill up the front page with political garbage when threads like this exist! I read a bit about this face in Steve House's book. Although I do not think I will ever be such a quality climber like these guys, at some point I will at least go over there and see this awesome face with own eyes.
RDB

Social climber
wa
Jan 10, 2012 - 05:37pm PT
Pays to remember that the "stroll" when this climb was first done didn't includes hut half way in.

There is a reason the hole where N twin sits is still considered the "black hole".

It would seem that with all the attempts and even the few successes..the "black hole" retains its reputation.

laughingman

Mountain climber
Seattle WA
Jan 10, 2012 - 05:45pm PT
Agree with RDB on this one. Possibly one of the hardest alpine wall in North America. The number of ascents is a testament to just how hard it is to climb.


The other peak I think is a "black hole" is the north face of the Jannu.
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
May 15, 2012 - 10:18pm PT
radness bump
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 10, 2013 - 12:19pm PT
Bump for Chris and George...
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Feb 10, 2013 - 12:54pm PT
One of these days I hope to find the topo George made for me. I'm sure it's around here, probably tucked in a book.
Trust me, it isn't in the appropriate guide book.
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Feb 10, 2013 - 01:07pm PT
I'm not much into collecting climbing memorabilia, but that topo is something I'd make an exception for.

N. Face N Twin is a strong contender for the finest climb ever done in North America.
Synchronicity

Trad climber
British Columbia, Canada
Feb 10, 2013 - 01:25pm PT
Best thread ever? You've got stellar firsthand accounts from several different FA parties, incredible photos, an absolutely badass mountain face, does it get any better? This is what Supertopo SHOULD be about!
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Feb 10, 2013 - 01:25pm PT
is it possible to romp around there alone shooting photos of the faces, or do the glaciers and terrain make solo travel inadvisable? haven't been up there, so I don't really know what to expect

edit: happy to "Norman Clyde fourth class" it, just don't want to fall into a crevasse or walk off a cornice
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 10, 2013 - 02:04pm PT
Dig Reilly, Dig!!!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 16, 2013 - 04:29pm PT
Chris recently informed me that I had left out the fourth and fifth pages now posted from the OP.

I wonder if George ever recovered this singular and classic helmet which famously went missing for a while.

Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 16, 2013 - 04:46pm PT
N. Face N Twin is a strong contender for the finest climb ever done in North America.

Agreed. But....... what is the competition? Stump / Logan on the Emperor face?
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Feb 16, 2013 - 05:24pm PT
Just climbed with George this afternoon. Among other things, we did Handcracker on the West Ridge at Eldorado. Now even though BOTH of us had done it about a year ago, between the two of us we missed the middle two pitches, ascending crappy gullies instead. In our defense, the wind was fierce and it was hard to hear (and, in retrospect I'm thinking, hard to think). Got me to "thinking" what if it was hard to hear AND we had been up there for 4 days AND we were on a route that had never been done before and that we might be lost on AND it was cold and snowy AND we were running out of food AND it was way harder AND it was frigging the North Face Of North Twin or something. But then I remembered, I only do rock climbing and I still need to get some shopping done before dinner with the wife.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 16, 2013 - 05:46pm PT
Ask George if he ever got his helmet back! I never heard the ending of that story.

And while you are at it, get him to chime in.
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Feb 16, 2013 - 06:03pm PT
Moonflower (to the summit) wasn't a shabby climb, but I'd agree that Loew-Jones is probably the highwater mark of North American alpinsm

edit: maybe Waterman in Alaska. Crazy-super-fukkd-up-gonzo. Wow.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Feb 16, 2013 - 06:16pm PT
George is certainly aware of Supertopo but is not inclined to spray in any way (unlike me). I think that anything he could say would sound like spraying to him, so he's not likely to do it.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 16, 2013 - 06:24pm PT
Can't keep a fella from trying...and I have been with George.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Feb 16, 2013 - 06:32pm PT
Not in the biblical sense I hope.
nah000

Mountain climber
canuckistan
Feb 16, 2013 - 07:28pm PT
while there are other contenders, [based on my reading and mental speculation, the moose's tooth, dance of the woo li masters, stump/bridwell, 1981, would be the one i'd make a case for], the reason why it's hard to not see the north face of north twin as a pinnacle of north american alpinism, is the point in history that it was climbed.

1974.

here we are almost 40 years later and the face, as a whole, has still only been climbed to completion three times. and so in 2013 these discussions are still based on first hand accounts that, to my knowledge, number in the single digits. [that's including the published partial attempts.]

and so while there is a list of late 70's / early 80's alaskan climbs that are likely of comparable difficulty/commitment/duration, like conrad kain's climbs of the 1910's, george lowe's climbs of the 70's in general [and the nf of nt in particular] were definitely way out there relative to the time that he climbed in.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 16, 2013 - 10:33pm PT
eeyonkee - ask him if he made his plane in Anchorage in '88! Him and his buddy passed us on the Cassin in a storm while we were holed up in a snow cave. We asked him what the hurry was and he said he had a plane to catch in a couple of days and apparently no amount of storm was going to stop him!

I figure to qualify for being in the running for best climb of North America there has to be a clause of no chance of getting the grocery shopping done for at least a few days so Dance of the Woo li Masters is likely in there... maybe a few others but I think those guys on North Twin probably thought a few times they may never grocery shop ever again!
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Feb 16, 2013 - 10:40pm PT
Most people head up After Six with a bigger rack than what those guys started with.
What did they finish with, a dozen pieces?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 17, 2013 - 10:34am PT
Talking trying not plying with respect to George. Besides what DIDN'T folks do in the Old Testament? LOL

Over a glass of wine, Greg Lowe told me that George was in the habit of paring down the rack to the minimum only to bitch about the shortage once climbing. Doing the adventure dance to an old school tune.
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Feb 18, 2013 - 04:54pm PT
I was thinking today of how George Lowe, whom I have not met, has influenced my climbing, and three things came immediately to mind: first, his uncanny ability to spot "the line" (e.g., in addition to North Twin, the Infinite Spur, the Kennedy-Lowe on Hunter, the Black Ice/West Face, etc.); second, his single-minded commitment to the climb (obviously); third and perhaps most personally relevant, as far as I can tell, he wasn't/isn't a guy who climbed/climbs 300 days per year -- maybe not even 50 days in any given year. It's one thing to hike the Cassin when you've been guiding the West Butt all season long and are 25 years old, but quite another if you're a thirty-something cube monkey using all 3 weeks of his vacation.

So GL has been a big influence on me, for sure. I hope I get a chance to see him at an AAC or other event.
Brandon P

Mountain climber
Canmore
Feb 19, 2013 - 01:02am PT
Cool Forum.
Lots of rad facts and cool opinions.

This summer Ian Welsted and I made the fastest ascent car to car out of the Black Hole via the Abron Route (North Ridge) of the Twin. Under 30 hours car to car. 2nd ascent of the route.
Here is the write up:
http://brandopullan.blogspot.ca/2012/08/north-twin-via-black-hole.html

Try writing some local Rockies climbers for further info instead of relying on apparent armchair mountaineers (coast climbers are not Rockies climbers fyi)
All Canadian ascent. Welsted tried the face a few years ago but after rock fall shattered his arm they made a 2 day descent from near the top of the North Pillar, bad ass! Ian is the stoke factor that drove the first all Canadian ascent of Twins Tower this year out of the black hole. Rockies climbers... well... we are kinda the real meal deal(in terms of we drink Canadian beer and eat Canadian Beef). No we did not do the North Face proper we climbed just to the right because during that time of year it is suicide.
O Canada eh!

Peace,
Brandon Pullan

PS: Pick up the next issue of the Canadian Alpine Journal for further details.

Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 19, 2013 - 08:58am PT
Brandon - thanks for the post! Good job on ticking the old Abbrons route. Sorry to hear that it is a choss pile though. No surprise I guess. How does the son of norht twin look - same?

I'd love to hear a bit more about Cheese/freisen Traverse of the chickens. Any idea if Tim freisen is still kicking around? Was that the only attempted repeat of the Jones Lowe route right up to recent activity?
If GL could ever be persuaded to chime in I'm sure he would have much to say about his friend Dave Cheesemond, one of the very few who could rival GL for going for the big prizes - wouldn't you say?

edit: Now that I think of it, I seem to recall some tale of Ward Robinson giving it a go. I'm sure there must have been others, all worthy of a campfire yarn or two
RDB

Social climber
wa
Feb 19, 2013 - 09:15am PT
"Try writing some local Rockies climbers for further info instead of relying on apparent armchair mountaineers (coast climbers are not Rockies climbers fyi)"

Nice :) I like it!
nah000

Mountain climber
canuckistan
Feb 19, 2013 - 10:41am PT
here's cheesmond's very short writeup about his, kallen and friesen's summer 82 attempt of the lowe/jones.

there's a note in gadd/scott/dornian's The Yam: 50 Years of Climbing on Yamnuska mentioning steve demaio and ward robinson's late 80's attempt of the nt [p. 106]. all it really says is "we didn't get very far".

ian welsted wrote up his attempt with chris brazeau in summer 04. the article is in the 2005 canadian alpine journal and is titled dead. if i understand correctly, over two days, welsted/brazeau made about 30 raps on a single 50 m line to get off the face after rockfall broke welsted's arm. crazy intense story.

jason kruk has made a couple of attempts recently. one with hayden kennedy in spring 11 and another with jon walsh in summer 11.

as far as writeups regarding other partial attempts i don't remember seeing any. but if there are more out there, i too would be interested in knowing where i can find them.

with the likes of blanchard and house chiming in, this thread has been an awesome one. it'd be cool to see more first hand accounts continue to come out of the woodwork. i'm sure there is still a lot of oral history floating about.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 19, 2013 - 12:25pm PT
on apparent armchair mountaineers (coast climbers are not Rockies climbers fyi)"


haha! I didn't see that little dig first time around! Who you calling arm chair you little slagg baggin' pud knocker? Real Beer? in Al-fukin -butthurtin' -burta? not likely. Anyway anytime you want to escape that gravel quarry you guys call climbing come on out and we'll show you both quality beer and quality rock and we won't even have the gall to call ourselves Moontaine Geede and invoice you for our time!
Brandon P

Mountain climber
Canmore
Feb 21, 2013 - 12:11am PT
Tim F is still around. I climb with him, Urs Kallen, Andy G, Trevor Jones once a month at the indoor cave in Calgary.
The boys are keen! Led by Urs Kallen!
These guys are retired, experienced and searching keen dudes on the regular, it is hard to keep up.

If you want to know more I have aimed to know much about Rockies history.
Email away: bmpullan@gmail.com

Cheers,
Brandon
10b4me

Boulder climber
Somewhere on 395
Feb 21, 2013 - 08:50am PT
I think the fa of the Wall of Shadows(Kennedy/Childs) ranks pretty high as well

It's pretty amazing that so many outstanding alpine first ascents have a Lowe associated with them.
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Jun 3, 2013 - 07:24pm PT
this thread always gets my mojo flowing
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Sep 9, 2013 - 04:08pm PT
tired of seeing inferior threads rise (if that's the word) to the top
Brandon P

Mountain climber
Canmore
Sep 13, 2013 - 05:01pm PT
Jon Walsh and Josh Wharton just repeated the North Pillar, the Blanchard/Cheesmond route!
http://gripped.com/2013/09/sections/news/history-is-made-walsh-and-wharton-climb-north-pillar-on-north-twins-north-face/
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Sep 14, 2013 - 12:43pm PT
well done! I certainly hope JR took plenty of pictures
nah000

climber
canuckistan
Sep 15, 2013 - 06:47am PT
sweet stuff.

Brandon P [or anyone else who knows]:

in your [at least i'm guessing you're brandon pullan] gripped write up you say this is the fifth ascent of the face.

who nabbed the fourth?
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Sep 15, 2013 - 08:06am PT
I think BP himself did, if the NW ridge is considered part of the face

I get 7 ascents with the ridge included:



1). Fa nw ridge, h Abrons et al.

2). Fa. N face, Lowe/ jones

3) fa Traverse of the Chickens, cheese / freisen / kallen

4) Fa n pillar bubba / cheese

5) house / pretzel route

6)) Repeat nw ridge. BP and partner

7). Repeat n pillar, jr / jw



I have a hard time thinking of a more magnificent, challenging and aesthetic alpine rock climb in the whole of North America than the North pillar of north Twin. Best on the continent with few rivals when you stack up all the attributes. It is remarkable how little mention this recent 2 nd ascent gets here while the squabbles about how many bolts go into a 100 foot slab goes on add infinitum! I guess this stuff isn't,t for everyone but anyone concerned about running out of sack terrain always has the north pillar of north twin in their back pocket.

I eagerly look forward to the tale and photos. The final head wall must be out of this world!

Next repeat that has gone on for too long..... dickey wine bottle buttress. The Cali granite boys shouldn't,t have too much of a problem with this one
BlackSpider

Ice climber
Sep 15, 2013 - 10:20am PT
Question for those in the know: is there any chance the obvious diretissima (basically straight down from the summit, splitting the space between the Lowe-Jones and North Pillar routes) could go, or is there just no line there?
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Sep 15, 2013 - 10:42am PT
Great bump
Spectacular ascent
Brandon P

Mountain climber
Canmore
Sep 15, 2013 - 10:44am PT
I was not including the ridge climb.
Of the North Face:
74 FA Jones/Lowe
83? FA Traverse of the Chickens Freisen/Cheesmond
85 FA Bubba/Cheesmond
04 FA House/Prez (April, winter conditions)
13 Walsh/Wharton repeat Bubba route

North Ridge
65 Abrons
12 Myself/Welsted

I think the direct line has not been done because of a number of reasons, one being the lack of a consistent line. Walsh and Kruk had climbed all new ground on their last attempt on the headwall, I am not sure where they were, before Jon had his foot bashed by rock fall.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 15, 2013 - 11:55am PT
Did you guys have as dry a summer as we did in Seattle?

Dry rock is crucial for the Blanchard-Cheesmond at 5.10d mandatory free climbing.
johnkelley

climber
Anchorage Alaska
Sep 15, 2013 - 02:16pm PT
Bruce Kay why someone would head to the Ruth is beyond my. Don't get me wrong it's a cool spot but there's bigger and better stuff up here. I can think of a dozen peaks with the relief of Dickey that have virgin summits and twice that many that have only one or two routes. Are you still active in the alpine climbing game? I need some more partners. Here a shot of a 3000' virgin spire in front of a 7500' virgin face on a 14,000' peak that has been summited only twice. Kevin took this photo while we were rapping off of another virgin peak after getting spanked.

.
Photo Kevin Ditzler
Photo Kevin Ditzler
Credit: johnkelley
Brandon P

Mountain climber
Canmore
Sep 15, 2013 - 02:54pm PT
Driest September in years in the Rockies.
Here is an update after beers with Jon, Josh, Barry: http://gripped.com/2013/09/sections/news/history-is-made-walsh-and-wharton-climb-north-pillar-on-north-twins-north-face/

Jon Walsh, Josh Wharton and Bubba hangin at the Georgetown Pub in Canm...
Jon Walsh, Josh Wharton and Bubba hangin at the Georgetown Pub in Canmore the night of their return.
Credit: Brandon P
FortMentäl

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Sep 15, 2013 - 03:29pm PT


Holy crap! Look at the ice climb just to GET to that thing!
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Sep 15, 2013 - 05:02pm PT
Mental you beat me to it. Johnkelly that thing looks sick. Could you tell me where it is please?
johnkelley

climber
Anchorage Alaska
Sep 15, 2013 - 08:15pm PT
I'll tell you if I'm lucky enough to get up it
nah000

climber
canuckistan
Sep 15, 2013 - 10:19pm PT
this is from the 1983 aaj and is written by cheesmond:

"In July 1982, Urs Kallen, Tim Friesen and I attempted to repeat the Lowe-Jones route on North Twin's north face. We were four days on the face but were unable to do the final wall as it was streaming with water caused by unusually warm conditions. Instead we traversed left to the ridge and followed this to the summit. We then crossed the icefield to the highway. We believe this is the most difficult face yet climbed in the Canadian Rockies. It still awaits a second ascent eight years after the first."

considering the above statement, cheesmond himself didn't consider his, friesen and kallen's 1982 climb to have been a successful ascent of the face. combining this and that any other public record considers house/prezelj to have made the third ascent of the face proper, i'd say it's a strange bit of historical revisionism to suddenly consider the walsh/wharton ascent the fifth.

pedantry aside, sweet shIt. always inspiring to hear about big stuff going down in your backyard.
Brandon P

Mountain climber
Canmore
Sep 16, 2013 - 07:41am PT
Very true.
But, House himself considers this the fifth ascent of the face, as he tweeted after they sent.
Originally I had it as the fourth, but after House said it was the fifth, well... he is Steve House.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Sep 16, 2013 - 08:35am PT
I wonder if Cheese didn't just mean The Jones / Lowe route remained unrepeated? Regardless, I don't see how their route can be discounted seeing as a huge amount of their climbing was on the real goods, then it followed its nose to more expedient terrain which led to the summit all the same.

Its like claiming Bugs Mckeiths route on the eiger wasn't a real eigerwand route because it never went through the white spider or something. Sort of true, but if its on the north face I'd say its an ascent of the north face.

I'd love to hear a bit more than the usual sentence or two about the traverse of the chickens route.
I'll have to ask Ward about his and Demaio's attempt. I think they were gunning for the pillar.

John kelly - thanks for the offer.... do I detect a hint of desperation? I feel for you. all those toys and no one up there into it? Are you saying that there are still gems like the Wine bottle kicking around?
Anyway, I'm out. I tend to go south to climb these days, not north. Good luck - the routes you have been doing look world class!
nah000

climber
canuckistan
Sep 16, 2013 - 08:58am PT
interesting.

i still find that position and logic strange and strained, even if it is coming from house.

i'd find it less strange if all the press that house/prezelj received had touted their ascent as the fourth.

i.e. was there a change of heart on house's part in the intervening years, or has he always held this position and just doesn't read/contribute to the press he receives? it'd be great if he chimed in again as i'm sure he has strong reasons for stating what he has.

either way i'm definitely spearheading a discussion that trends towards determining the number of angels on pin heads ... so, another congrats to walsh/wharton to keep this somewhat balanced. and definitely a big kudos to anyone who's climbed out of that hole via whatever means. having been to the woolley shoulder, i know how little justice the pictures of that side of the north twin serve.

Brandon P, you previously mentioned you climb regularly with kallen.

you should see if he'd be willing to pull up a chair to this campfire. i'm sure there is a more interesting story to be told about his/friesen/cheesmond's climb than the five lines that exist in the caj and aaj.
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Sep 16, 2013 - 10:55am PT
Jon Walsh just keeps on going. He has an impressive list of big climbs done very quickly in good style.
BlackSpider

Ice climber
Sep 16, 2013 - 12:43pm PT
Jon Walsh's trip report:

http://www.alpinestyle.ca/2013/09/16/the_north_pillar

The most significant North American alpine ascent in years, and he's still so modest and understated.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Sep 20, 2013 - 09:37pm PT
It would be best if I knew before then.
Johnny K.

climber
Jan 10, 2014 - 06:55am PT
up..
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 10, 2014 - 09:51am PT
BlackSpider, that link ain't werkin'. Maybe it's temporary?
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