At the end of March, we went up from the White Water Conserve and camped at the confluence of the North Fork and Middle Forks. Day two, we went up to the Middle Fork Jump Off – were unable to reach the top. On Day three we tried to get around the corner on the North Fork near the confluence that contains at least one totally impassable falls. We made it up to the west ridge and down to the river, taking it down to the top of the falls and then up for about a half of a mile. But we ran out of time to go any further as we had to make it all the way back out to the car.
On this past Sunday, our best guess (serious guess) is that we were about a half a mile to mile above where we left off two months ago. So the only thing unexplored is that short section (however) long. But we also know that it just doesn’t matter how long that section is since it doesn’t take much to totally block the way.
In general I’m inclined to agree with you that going up is preferable. In fact, it took us significantly less time to go back up to camp than it took to get down to where we turned around. But . . . as I said, our turn around point was marked by the highest waterfall we encountered to that point. And while we seemed pretty sure (without dwelling on it too much) that we could get down (looked like a place to do a sort of friction slide and lower packs down), we couldn’t really see a way back up. Because we had to go back at that point, we certainly didn’t want to tempt it.
I’ll try to post some pics tomorrow. And let us know if you are going, I can give you some specifics, (including that easiest way in might be to ascend from Fish Creek Saddle and then drop in from the Ten Thousand Foot Ridge). Given our experience, your bottom up idea might be the one, since the turnaround point if you get denied makes for a closer retreat. Also, we just might be interested in another shot at completing it if you’re game for company.