A great summit at the top with a great four person group, enjoyed the views from the top, and a fun camp the prior evening.
Did this one with Dan, David, and Steve Levine!!! great climb.
A variation on the Southeast Ridge. From the Chambers Lakes area, climb on the edge of the glacier until the ridge is your only option. Much more fun than the rocks. Watch out for head pecking, food stealing ravens.
Kyle and I started from Pole Creek TH. Used crampons and rope for the Hayden Glacier. The ridge on the glacier looked tight although there are crevasses on the sides that obviously go under the route, but the snow was firm on top. The hike was 6.75 hours up and 5 hours down.
From a glorious camp just below the Collier from which we climbed North Sis the previous day.
Slots opening up on the upper Collier and we had to do two end runs to avoid them where we trended right (SE) to the foot of the north ridge of Middle Sis. Crampons VERY useful for early morning approach.
About 3.5h up from camp of which 1h was the N ridge proper. No snow on the ridge. Some loose scree but a paved highway compared to North. Under 2h back to camp.
Have now bagged all the "girls".
This was my first attempt at Middle Sister, Oregon, and I was climbing with my friend Ed from Newberg, who is an experienced mountaineer in the Cascades. That was lucky, because there are many confusing routes up the mountain, on the snow fields and glaciers. But he had a lot of experience and could help us find the way, with a map and compass and GPS at our side.
We started from the Obsidian Trailhead, and hiked in to Sunshine meadows campground. You need a special wilderness permit to hike in this area, but they are available free from the McKenzie River Park Ranger's office, and they can FAX the permit to you in advance. You also need a Northwest Forest Parking pass to park at the Obsidian Trailhead parking lot, but I parked just down the road at the Scott Lake turnout and walked the extra half mile to the trailhead.
Just over the Jerry Lava Flow, bear left onto the trail marked for Minne Scott Springs, and follow that about a mile until it ends at the Pacific Crest Trail. At the intersection, head straight forward, toward the mountain across the meadow for the climbers trail up. As you reach the scree, head for the only line of scraggly trees on a ridge ahead, at this altitude, and the trail that skirts them on the right (South) and up the mountain. After about a thousand feet, the trail ends and it is necessary to walk up on the glaciers and snow. Keep the Black Finn, a giant twisted fin of lava, on your left as you climb. Once on top of the first rise, the mountain will come into view. Keep heading east and you will get to the Collier glacier, which spans the two mountains, North Sister on the left and Middle Sister to the right. Walking up Collier Glacier on this hot sunny (eighty degree) summer day was a bit dicey, as the snow would give way in parts, and once I broke through the crust to an alarming fall, which I caught myself with my other bent leg. No actual crevasse was showing but there were probably some forming on the snow fields. Some crampons would have been great, as walking across the middle of the glacier was a frightening experience. Also some technical rock climbing was necessary in parts, to shimmy around some sheer outcroppings near the top. Coming down was a simple glacade slide back down on the snow.
All in all a wonderful day up in the high country, and well worth the effort. But bring some extra sunscreen and lip balm, as I got a nasty sunburn on my lower lip, probably from the reflection off the ice. Well recommended, but with crampons and ice axe, as it would have been a much easier climb with them in hand.
I had already climbed Middle Sister from the east side (South Ridge) so I wanted to try it from the other side. I am pleased to say that I think the Obsidian Trail approach is even more beautiful. The mix of forest, lava field, meadow, moraine, glacier and rocky ridge makes this one of the best routes I have done. It didn't hurt that I didn't see a single person from the car to my camp, from my camp to the summit and from the summit back to my camp. I was the only person on the mountain! Amazing... there weren't even any campers at Sisters Spring or hikers on the PCT.
I do have to add that the mountain isn't as close as it seems from below. I climbed quickly to the col between North and Middle but was surprised that I still had over 1000 feet of climbing to the summit. Somehow I thought the col was "almost there" and in the end it took another hour.
Another note, the snow field on the north ridge was not melted out and because it is not mentioned in any of my books, I was caught off guard by how steep it was. I had to sweat to cross it without my crampons. See the route description for more details.
I, along with a couple of good friends left the Obsidian TH Saturday mid morning. Camped at Arrowhead Lake (Still frozen over) under a full moon and calm sky’s. Headed for the summit at dawn. Started out on the standard Renfrew Glacier route, then headed south around a rock buttress then straight up the northwest face. It was stair stepping large boulders instead of fighting the small loose scree like you'll find on the North Ridge. Good views and a long walk out..
Made this an independent day trip after too lazy to do from S Sis day before. Left Pole Creek TH @ 9.46.
Scree slogging along with intermittent snow crossings & occasional enjoyable scrambling took me to the summit (which I had all to myself) at 14.49. Enjoyed a Deschutes Twilight ale & herbal supplement. Relished doing my last Sister while somewhat sad that I was done with them. Very cool that I saw no-one else on mountain! While a bit hazy, views phenomenal- saw next volcano past Hood (Adams?!). Hundreds of butterflies flying over summit again- very cool!
Hurried down at 15.49 after discerning what appeared to be a storm cloud forming over S Sister (& moving my way; it later dispersed). Lengthy descent after took dfft route down, ending up too far (skier's) R & needing to traverse back over. Some fun glissading (& one short self arrest where slipped on ice beneath snow) & a few short but nervous (smaller) glacier crossings (where they were narrow & slopes appeared concave) & I was back to the trail. Back at TH/car at 19.54. Great day to be alive.
As a side note, Sisters' glaciers had a lot more snow covering them than those on Shasta's N side.
We got snowed/rained out on our summit day so we couldn't do it.
Perfect weather and snow conditions made for a speedy and fun climb, we only saw one other party on the mountain.
nice weather and just us, we and my dog made our way to the top via south side. interesting route finding to the lake with all the snow on the ground and no tracks.
Dad, brother Jon, and I did the day hike from Frog Camp in the summer of 1963. After looking at this from Mt Bachelor since the days of just a rope tow and a pomalift at the ski area, we finally came over and climbed one of the most beautiful volcanic mountain groupings in the world -- 3 Sisters + Broken Top
Went with a Mazamas group. Nice weather, enjoyable company. The hike back out from where we camped was very long, many false sightings of the trailhead.
I was summitpost surfing and came across your summit log. It is so true the walk out on the Obsidian trail is long. It's the last miles of featureless forest after lava flow that lulls one into hullucination. I reminised and had to laugh,
Beautiful weather up there for my 4th summit of Middle. The snow pack was super high this year and we ran into almost continuous snow from 5500' on up. The snow was perfect and held up all day so that there was no postholing. The snowfield up at the base of the North Ridge was very steep this year. Fortuatley the snow was perfect for kicking steps that did not blow out. Had probably the best glisade coming down ever.
Took the easy way and spent the night at 7000' (tree line). Easy non tech slog to the saddle. Saw the crevasses on both sides of the snow ridge. The crampons came off at the saddle due to the exposed scree slope on the north side until we hit the most difficult part of the climb. A 50 deg. snow patch about 150' high. Not too bad though. It was tougher down climbing than going up. 74 deg warm at the summit. Awesome views as far north as Adams, pretty dirty looking west, and South Sister w/ Broken Top looked beautiful as ever. The 5 miles back from camp in the heat was the least enjoyable part of the trip. The bugs were hungry....
On August 15, 2003 a friend of mine was hiking to the top of this mountain when he fell to his death. One year later, a small group of us finished the climb in his memory. With us we carried an orange ribbon in his honor (orange was his favorite color). The climb was beautiful and the view amazing. God is good.
Great climb up with the BSA! No snow, more of a strenuous hike.