as of this morning conditions up high were not real great. an inch or two of snow over mud. We went to high on the ridge instead of cutting over to the traverse, so we ended up doing a bunch of sketchy crazy scrambling. Great times, but the mountain is not in real good shape right now
Turns out we were to low! Couldn't believe it either. James and I along with another friend finally climbed it early Aug.
Once we got up on the SE ridge we were able to follow a climbers trail fairly well. After joining the S ridge the going was fine. We stayed L of the 1st gendarme, followed a trail R of the 2nd, and passed L of the next. It didn't get too interesting until the dinner-plate loose shale. We started to get too high, and did better a little lower. The bowling alley was trickier than I remembered, and my daughter required a belay up the lower portion of it. Then the last bit up to between the horns didn't go nearly as high as I remembered, and I got stimied on the pitch back to the left and up- huge exposure and definitely not 4th class. About this point I realized that inspite of being warned, there being footprints of others going that way, there being a couple belay stations, and having been up this once before, I had gotten us into the false bowling alley. All-in-all this wasted almost an hour. We back tracked down then up the true bowling alley and to the top. The weather was great. There was practically no snow. Bottom line- if it seems too hard, you're likely in the wrong place.
The 1st time up this I took 2 days. This time with 2 very fit people, traveling very light, jogging when we could we took a little over 5 hrs- 11:15am to 4:45pm. We bagged Middle, then descended the glacier. Even with the warm weather, the bottem end of that was steep and hard engough that I wished I hadn't left the ice axes in the car.
Climbed North Sister via SE ridge route as first part of Three Sister's marathon. Began at Pole Creek trailhead, finished at Devil's Lake trailhead. First time on North or Middle. Great conditions, snow and ice free on Terrible Traverse and Bowling Alley.
First 30 feet of terrible traverse proved to be the worst with very loose dinner-plate rock, but after that it was easily crossed. My partner and I met two other climbers as we crossed the traverse and then all 4 of us made the common mistake of taking the "false" bowling alley and wasting valuable time. Eventually we realized we were in the wrong chute and down-climbed, then back up the real bowling alley.
Stupid mistake, especially since we had read reports of many climbers doing this. Won't do that again. Two of us proceeded to summit after free-climbing the alley, and then down-climbing, without ropes. There were rap slings in place near the top of the bowling alley. Lots of rockfall as usually described.
Summiting North was by far the most satisfying of the three peaks climbed, and definitely worth the trip.
I had attempted North Sister only once before, back in July of 05' I had missed opportunity in 06'and 07' I was about to lose my opportunity again when I came to the conclusion that I would have to lead it myself. When my Mt Adams via Mazama glacier climb cancelled due to forest fire I siezed the opportunity.
I had one guy left that was still willing to do an adventure and we headed over to tackle The Black Beast of the Cascades. I had not climbed with Ivan before but he had more than enough experiance to be a solid second on the Terrible Traverse and Bowling Alley. The only thing we needed to do was brush up on glacier travel and rescue skills. WE spent a couple of hours the first day in camp working on the those skills.
We woke up at and departed camp at 3:00am and passed through the Hayden glacier without a blink, The melt out at the saddle made the crossing to the Collier glacier a bit more difficult. We were on the south ridge by a little after 6:00am The highlites were chopping and kicking steps across and back on the traverse on fifty degree snow. Belaying Ivan up the bowling alley and finally finding the only solid rock on the mountain in the summit block. The low was breaking down camp and packing out with what seemed like an 80 pound pack uhgg!
We had a great weekend at North Sister! Having been turned back in 2005 (at 8,600'), I really wanted this summit so I could finish my Three Sisters bid. I climbed with two friends, and we met up with two more en route. Between the five of us we had plenty of experience, gear, and sense of humor to make it a great climb!
The weather was perfect for this climb - we couldn't have asked for better conditions. We left our campsite at Soap Creek at 5:30 am and summited at 11:30 am. After spending some time hanging out at the summit, we descended back to camp - arriving at 5:00 pm. Freeze dried Beef Stroganoff never tasted so good!
North Sister is known by many names: The Third Sister, The Ugly Sister, The Wicked Sister, The Deadly Sister, Charity (yeah, right - no love on this one). When I came home today and told my six-year-old son about my climb, he came up with a new one...Darth Sister!
See you out there!
Mazama climb. I was lucky enough to summit with a great group on a good day. I feel that this is the best view in the Sisters area, but the rock is horribly loose. It was a good thing that no one else was on the mountain because we sent tons of rock flying. We used a fixed line for the top of the Bowling Alley and the last summit scramble, but I can see how some may not protect the route. On the ridge descent, one of the climbers in the group lost his balance and broke his wrist. We decided to short rope him and go down the scree instead of the ridge. We made it back to the cars at midnight. Jim, you're a soldier. Good luck with the recovery.
A very fun climb. We decided not to take a rope and were glad. We ended up taking a ridge to the right of the bowling alley that provided very fun climbing on solid rock. Can't wait to go back.
With fellow V Islanders Tony and Graham.
From a glorious camp at the foot of the Collier at ~2,400 metres.
Vile scree and, thanks to us, there are now several more tons of debris at the bottom of the west face than before we started. But we finally made it after some scary moments.
TT wasn't too bad and the Bowling Alley a pleasure after what preceded it. Soloed all the way up and rapped just the Class 4 section of the Alley coming down.
About 10 hours camp to camp. What took so long to climb and reverse 650 metres !?
TR now posted (August 15 2007) at this link.
I went on the south ridge route expecting the "Hinterstoisser Traverse" of Oregon. I was happily disappointed. With soft snow and bit of melt out, the West Face traverse wasn't that intimidating. With ice or hard snow and much earlier in the year, I think the story might be a bit different. For what it's worth, I found North Sister's west face traverse a bit easier than the west face traverse on Mt. Jefferson.
A couple of observations:
1. Helmets seem mandatory on this climb
2. A second axe or ice tool would probably be a good thing to bring along. I ended up using my ice tool on the traverse.
3. Best if you are small party and there are no other parties on the standard route. The inevitable rockfall people will kick down (not to mention what the mountain herself could let loose on you) in the lower Bowling Alley definitely would add
adrenaline to your climb.
4. If you have the time and motivation, doing both North (first) and Middle Sister in a day seems pretty reasonable. We were a fast-moving party that left base camp at the foot of the Hayden Glacier at 2:45 am. The plan was to do both North and Middle Sister in a day. I think we should have read the guidebooks a bit more carefully, because we only summited the South Horn of Prouty Pinnacle (9:15 am). In hindsight, the North Horn did seem about 10-15 feet higher, but we were both distracted by what we thought would be long and exhausting day by going for both North and Middle Sisters. So we called the South Horn our "summit." Back off the west face traverse by 10:00 am, we set our sights on Middle Sister. The plan was to have my partner's girlfriend meet us at the saddle and then all go up Middle Sister's north ridge together. Well we arrived at the saddle at 11:00 and waited an hour and 15 minutes. No show. We then started to worry and decided to abort the second climb. After making it back almost to our camp, our third partner was seen coming up towards us. After a 30-minute pow wow, we decided to go for Middle Sister anyway (what the hell! it was a beautiful day in the mountains!). We left our meeting spot at 1:45 pm and made it to the top of the Hayden Glacier by 3:00 pm. The north ridge was pretty much a scree slog/trail so we made it to the top of Middle Sister by 4:00 pm. Back at the saddle at 5:00 pm. We strolled into of our camp at 6:00 pm feeling very accomplished (and surprisingly not too tired). Not bad for a 16-hour day. :)
met a guy from a climbing website and we snowshoed from the highway all the way to BC at N sister. Did the E ridge and climbed the heaveily rimed west face. coming down we were hit with white-out and high winds. no shovel, so stomped a tomb next to a rock that was 1 1/2 wide x 3' deep x 3' long, just below the summit. he didn't have an emergency blanket and mine would not open up into a bag (it had melded itself into a single sheet-probably from being packed too long). We put it over us to keep out the wind and snow. our water frozen, no food left, we waited out the storm all night. the hand warmers didn't work because they had gotten damp from the snow I guess. he was continuously shivering as we sat up, on top of the packs with me between his knees. what a first date! I peeked out and could see the lights of the nearby towns, only to have the storm once again cover the view. I kept my feet off the snow by setting them in my helmet, my toes were going numb, and my fingers too, due to holding the blanket above my head all night since there was no other way to hold it down. all I wanted to do was sleep through the epic , I didn't want to think about what-ifs all night...what if the storm doesn't subside tomorrow, what if my friend gets worse with his hyperthermia, what if we are lost? good thing the bivy was so stinking uncomfortable, as it kept us squirming all night and this kept us awake and aware of our bodies and surroundings. the next day we were greeted with sun and calm. we descended the ridge. as we got close to camp, I knew something hadn't been right with my hands and feet, just didn't want to deal with it during the descent. we removed my gloves and boots at camp to find I had 2nd degree frostbite, mostly on the fingers. I always wondered if a person can tell the difference between just cold numbness and numbness caused by frostbite. Yes you can...it's a different feeling unlike any I've had from just getting seriously cold fingers. you'll know it when you're getting it, at least if you're in a situation as I where you can notice it. exercising my toes all night had not been enough to keep them from freezing and holding the hands above my head was no help, even though I took turns using my head to hold the blanket so I could warm a hand at a time. I now change out my emergency blanket every 2 years and take a shovel to the summit (even with no avy danger)for emergencies. I won't open a hand warmer until I'm sure I'm settled in and done with handling wet objects. I do still climb with strangers, but not if they won't bring their OWN e-bag.
After 2 failed attempts: Once for lack of a rope to cross the last snowfield when the ice was too hard to kick steps, and the second attempt abandoned at the same spot due to avalanche conditions when the last snowfield was under a huge cornice attached to the south portion of the final summit ridge. We'd slept in at camp 'cause a late spring snow had added about 2 miles of snowshoeing on the road to get to the trailhead and exended our approach day. At least on THAT unsuccessful trip we had georgous central Oregon Cascades views. On the descent the whole south side of the SE ridge and east side of the Northy was sliding like mad in the heat of the day on the recent spring snow.
Our summit on the third attempt was a great experience -- we fully protected the final snowfield, which is just about exactly a rope length across, and found the scramble up the bowling alley not nearly as loose as everyone complains about. The downer was that visability was about 50 yards!
One big crumbling piece of S*&%. It was fun though, just loose and sketchy in spots.
Conditions varied greatly, with everything from snow & whiteouts to biting wind and short periods of warm sun. Most of the routes on the mountain were in surprisingly good shape with a nice cover of snow and ice.
We ascended the northwest ridge and traversed to the pinnacle with little difficulty--plenty of firm snow despite some fresh topping. The pinnacle was interesting--lots of rime which was difficult to protect, but we successfully placed a couple ice screws on the most difficult portions. 2nd tool was helpful if not essential on the lead. Rapped off to avoid the previous difficulties...
Found the traverse to the south stable as well and saw only a few minor sloughs. Amazingly few rocks falling due to the ice--certainly a first for me on this mountain. Some loose snow on the Camels Hump could've used a belay, but things were getting late at that point and we opted out. The descent of the southeast ridge was rough--definetly worth the effort to stay on the climbers trail.
I placed a register in an ammo box on Prouty Pinnacle for future summiteers.
Edit: I believe this register has disappeared. Let me know if you find it!
Warmer than usual temps(50 degrees at 4:00 am. I believe a low camp and some route finding hang ups doomed are climb. We reached the traverse at 8:30 the sun approaching the snowfield to close for comfort with a party of eight. A party of four were ahead of us going with a running belay across the traverse. they reached the summit. It was still a great adventure as we experienced some gnarly exposure when we went to the right or east side of the camels hump on the ascent. We were able to identify are route finding errors we will come back next year a smaller party with a camp high on the glacier .
A beautiful climb, although the route done w/o snow leaves something to be desired - I pray to god I never get on rock that loose ever again! It was interesting watching breezes set off rockfall on the Terrible Traverse. The Bowling Alley was actually really fun, with relatively solid rock (which got more solid as the scrambling got more difficult).
I think I'd really enjoy this climb w/ snow - I'll have to come back!
Nate Cooney and I started at pole creek at 5:00am and finished at devils lake at 7:00 pm having summited all three sisters(our first attempt at traverse). Beer and pizza please. We're gonna up the anty and summit sisters plus brokentop and bachy in 24 hours w/out the use of a car. Stay tuned for deatlis.
Lots of rock fall and a little bit of route finding.
I was there with Brian, David, Steve, Craig and Justin. What took so long to climb 1,500ft and walk 2.0 miles round trip from camp? Great experience.