Amazing alpine ice route with a relatively short approach. Generally steep snow and 50-55 degree ice for 6 continuous pitches. Generally stay on the right side of the couloir (though both sides can be climbed) because the slope of the chute funnels rock and ice to the left side. I have seen this climb in various conditions from steep neve mixed with ice to bullet-proof steep blue ice from top to bottom. I have never seen it as a snow couloir as is shown in S.P. Parker's guidebook.
The North Couloir is the farthest right couloir on the north face. It should be obvious because it is the largest chute. When you arrive at the top of the ice at the notch, either ascend low 5th class rock to the summit (climbers right from the notch) or descend south and down to Conness Lake.
The route is on the north face of North Peak.
Approach: Start hiking from the Saddlebag Lake trailhead by dropping down below the dam and crossing the stream. Next hike along the west bank of Saddlebag Lake. Eventually pass Greenstone Lake on the right (north) side of the lake and continue up through a shallow slot valley past Wasco Lake. At this point you have been following a major trail. Leave the trial (to the left) and hike around the east and north shore of Cascade Lake and look for a climbers trail that heads up the rocky/grassy hillside from the north side of Cascade Lake. Once you reach the shelf and talus field that is almost even in elevation to the base of the North Peak snowfield, turn 180 degrees left and hike directly south to the base of the snowfield for the north face of North Peak. Climb the obvious snowfield to the base of the couloir.
Ice screws for protection and belays in late summer and fall. In early season you may want a small rock rack and/or a couple pickets, though I am not sure about this because I have not done it when it was snow.
Photos of North Face North Couloir (right couloir) Slideshow
This is a video of an unknown climber ascending the north face of North Peak. We were climbing in a threesome and the third took the footage of another party. If this is you or someone you know and they want a copy of this video, just let me know.
I have some other photos of the route and I will try and post them when I get a chance to scan them in. Otherwise, Summit Post has some useful photos.
I have only done this route during various times in August. During winter I would think this thing is all snow. As far as going up to the Meadows in winter though, I would love to do that someday....it has got to be amazing.
on august 27, 2010 my partner and I bailed off of this route- there's 4 BD ice screws, 4 wiregates, 2 lockers, and 2 slings on the right side of the Right Couloir. If you grab the booty, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'll paypal a reward in return for the shipped gear
Sorry to hear that you had to bail. Just out of curiosity, if the ice was good enough to set screws, why didn't you just set v-threads to get down? Also, what condition was the route in? ....just trying to get an idea of what things are looking like.
By rhyang From: San Jose, CA Sep 26, 2010 rating: AI2 Steep Snow
The scramble to the summit can be as easy as third class if you go a bit left on obvious ledges. You will pop out onto the SW face a bit below the true summit -- from there it's class 2 to the top.
When I followed this route in late 2005, the top 50 feet or so was warmed by the sun into a slush, and would not hold screws for the end of the ice climbing. The scramble to the summit was well worth it. Just be careful about pulling blocks loose.