As you will plainly see in the pictures below, the views are spectacular and the north ridge is very rugged. The ridge alternated from a barren expanse to a hard, icy snow crust. Half-way along the ridge, John and I soldiered ahead of the group, choosing to traverse below the ridge, around the first of two mammoth camel humps, then back up to the ridge at a saddle.
Better than describing this "interesting" traverse, see one of the pictures below - John is the tiny figure, almost imperceptible, near the small snow patch halfway down the rock. Needless to say, after climbing back up to the saddle, we shouted our recommendation to the approaching party that they avoid this traverse since it was at best iffy. Our recommendation to traverse a less steep snow ramp, avoiding the camel hump, was heeded.
This left John and I with one decision; continue over the second rocky camel hump, or join the team at the snow ramp below. John proceeded over the rocky pinnacle; I chose to climb down the steep, icy slope to join the party below - this was a decision I would soon regret.
As others had already proceeded ahead along the safer route, I became entrenched in the effort to lower myself down the hard, thin ice to their route. The run out was, well...I don't want to re-visit my memory of it. Using my ice axe to carefully cut steps on this steep slope, I proceeded slowly and cautiously, belaying with the pick-end of my ice axe. After about thirty minutes I finally gained the safer snow ramp below. To say this was exhausting (and exhilarating) is to understate the effort.
Safe and sound, we all joined up at the North summit and relaxed in the sunshine.
Please see the pictures. If you have a relatively fast internet connection, I highly recommend clicking on each picture for a full screen view.
View From North Ridge
North Ridge Route To Mt Townsend Summit
North Ridge Camel Humps Close Up
Iffy Traverse Below Ridge (See John Near Small Snow Patch)