Easy 5th Mod. Snow
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Matt prepares to begin the N-S traverse. Photo co...
This is a great route that tests a lot of alpine skills. I believe the route changes drastically depending on snow coverage. The traverse can obviously be done from the North Brother to the South, or vice versa. There is a lot of information out there on the south-north route, I did the north-south and am pretty convinced it's the way to go.
From the terraces at around 5500 feet (bivy possible here) head roughly north over occasionally fourth class terrain. Your goal is the notch in the South Brother's southeast ridge, right at 6100' on the map.
Cross through the notch and into the Great Basin on the other side. Descend steep snow and then contour northward until you reach the couloir leading to directly below the summit of the North Brother.
From here the traverse begins. We started by scrambling down easy rock to a flat spot where we roped up. We did two pitches of moderate snow on the east side of the ridge, using pickets and rock gear for pro, before transitioning over to the west side for a sparsely protected rock traverse. From there another pitch of rock traversing brought us to another notch.
At this point we went down and westward to gain some snow and a belay in a moat. Another mixed rock and snow pitch to another moat found us at the bottom of a steep, beautiful couloir that we then ascended. From there, we made an easy unroped scramble leftward and into the gulley right next to the summit of the South Brother, and to the summit.
From here the route back down is just the descent from the standard South Brother route, and if you spent the night at 5500' you will hike right past your bivy site.
For us it was 7 pitches, all statically belayed. It would be quite possible to simulclimb much or all of this. We climbed at the beginning of June, 2009, and the snow was thin. I think the more snow on this route, the easier it will be.
Either way you are traversing, the approach is identical to that for the South Brother. Hike on the very friendly trail past Lena Lake, and continue on toward the Brothers. Where the trail reaches some flat campsites around 6 miles in, cross the creek and head west. Here several trails split and then rejoin back together. Navigate a slide meadow and a burn scar as you head north and uphill. Continue up the wide gulley until about 5500 feet, then decide which direction you're going.
Light alpine rock rack
BETA PHOTO: Looking from near the summit of the North Brother,...
Daniel negotiating a rock traverse. Photo courtes...
Beginning the South to North Traverse. June 2012