With my thumb still recovering from UCL surgery in late July and Kelsey's finger tendon on the mend as well, we searched around for fun, easy alpine trad routes for what promised to be a great fall weekend. Mount Triumph's NE Ridge quickly jumped to the lead and we set up the plan to drive up Saturday morning, approach, bivy, and then climb/descend on Sunday.
We started hiking at noon on Saturday and made good time, so we stopped at upper Thornton Lake for a brisk dip and some sunbathing on flat rocks before finishing the approach. It was a perfect, warm fall day for it. We made it to the col by 4:15pm or so and dropped down to the rocky ridge below the col where we experienced one of the better bivy sites I've ever encountered. We were cozy and falling asleep in the open air (we didn't bring a tent) by sunset, just shy of 7pm, with a great view of The Pickets.
Knowing that we'd be hiking out Sunday evening and having read widely varying trip report times on the ridge, we got started early, waking at 4:30am and moving by 5am. It was a pretty easy 1.5 hours to the notch at the start of the climb despite the darkness and a little wandering high and low to stay on the snow. Approach shoes with lightweight crampons and a stubby axe were more than sufficient for the glacier travel. The timing was perfect—we reached the small bivy spot a couple of pitches up right as The Pickets were starting to pink up with the sunrise, but didn't need headlamps for the climbing.
We simul-climbed the whole ridge with a single 70m rope doubled in half and a single rack to 3", which was overkill but helped with lengthening the simul- blocks. Memorable spots were the knife-edge ridge (reminiscent of the North Ridge on Stuart) and the steeper section around the crux. We didn't experience much loose rock and it felt like Type I fun the whole way—a bit of a rarity for me after doing lots of colder, snowier, icier climbs this year. Apparently I haven't been rock climbing enough recently!
We topped out at 9:30am, so about 3 hours up, with an amazingly clear view South to Rainier, West to Baker and Shuksan, North to the Pickets and East to Eldorado and Forbidden. It was truly breathtaking.
After leaving the summit at 10am, we spent the next 3 hours getting down to the notch, which really wasn't bad with a single 70m rope. Don't bring doubles. Only a couple of places required taking some unprotected steps after rapping off the ends of the rope on easy terrain. Simul-climbing back across the knife edge was pretty quick. We ran across another party on their way up just below the crux. I hope they had an awesome day as well—we were worried to see them left of the crux OW as we continued down...
From the notch, it was another 1.5 hours back to the col, so about 9 hours camp to camp and getting to that point at 2pm, so we decided to have a leisurely hike out with another swim in the upper lake. What an awesome weekend in a beautiful area with an exceptionally high Type I : Type II fun ratio.