North Sister Climber's Log

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Nick Turtura

Nick Turtura - Aug 12, 2012 3:11 am Date Climbed: Aug 11, 2012

Never again  Sucess!

This is one big pile of stuff! Reading all the stuff on it we brought an extra 50 pounds of rock gear just to be safe. Turns out there was snow and ice on the traverse. Our rock gear did very little without any pickets and screws. We had axes and crampons so we lead out a good 50 meter line. (obviously only to retrieve a dead body after a swing of 50m) Once through the travers we thought we'd use all that pro we brought. Nope. The bowling alley and above was a cinch. Even if we wanted to use pro, the rock up there is GARBAGE. We did rap down bowling alley. Than back at the travers, instead of being stupid twice we down climbed under the drift, crossed over and up the other side to the start. Much safer. All and all, if there wasn't a drift right in the travers this mountain would not need any gear. However be ready for loose stuff everywhere.


bc44caesar - Aug 3, 2011 8:47 pm Date Climbed: Aug 2, 2011

Southeast Ridge  Sucess!

Started at Pole Ck TH at 4:45 am, left the trail after Soap Ck and hiked easily cross-country to the Southwest Ridge. Terrible Traverse was steep snow, Bowling Alley was solid scrambling with almost no rockfall. Summitted after somewhat less than 5 hrs and with lots of wind. Went on to climb Middle and South Sister in a 12hr 40min Sisters Marathon.


iquest4it - Dec 25, 2010 6:34 am Date Climbed: Aug 13, 2010

The Marathon - Part B  Sucess!

We ran out of time and conditions earlier in the year just 200 feet from the summit, but this time I did it on my solo Marathon trip. There's no secret why they call this the "Ugly" Sister. I could tell you about the many false chutes, the horribly rotten rock,the "Terrible" traverse, the 70 degree ice face over a 2,500 foot garbage chute, or the crushed fingers I sustained, but the bottom line is I did three sisters all by myself in just two days, and I did one of the twice. What more can a I say, other than a rope to rap down would have been really nice.


millsb40 - Aug 24, 2010 5:54 pm Date Climbed: Aug 23, 2010

South Ridge  Sucess!

This is a pretty straight forward climb (surprisingly). Around the first couple gendarmes on the left, around one on the right and then the traverse. It was rock and debris for the first 1/2 of the traverse and then very hard snow for the second half. Used a rope and 2 pickets (crampons and ice ax also) for that portion. The bowling alley wasn't obvious at first. You can look up the bowling alley and see the rappel slings on the upper right, if you don’t see those, you're not in the alley. Didn't use a rope on the way up, it was pretty easy. Rappelled down since we packed the rope, but I down climbing would have been do-able. Camped in the saddle Southwest of Collier Glacier, did Middle Sister later that morning and went back to the vehicle at Obsidian trailhead.


RetroGear - Aug 2, 2010 12:58 am Date Climbed: Jul 10, 2010

NE Arete  Sucess!

Approach from Pole Creek to Soap Creek meadows. Our original plan was to climb the east face (left edge of Villard Glacier) route. Due to concerns about rock fall we went up the slopes along the NE Arete.
We climbed to the saddle between Glisan and Prouty. Unfortunately time was running late so we tagged the top of Glisan and went out the way we came. Nice glissading on lower slopes.


kraymes - Jul 12, 2010 11:54 pm Date Climbed: Jul 10, 1990

Ridge N of Bowling Alley  Sucess!

Walked past (heading north) the Bowling Alley chute and then turned up some divet and climbed some arete-like volcanic choss and summitted. Rappleyea was so freaked at the summit he refused to stand up. Sure felt like an idiot going down the bowling alley cuz we sure did get off route.


mandrake - Jan 8, 2010 4:34 pm Date Climbed: Aug 26, 2007

SE Ridge  Sucess!

Amazingly sucky rock.


Snowslogger - Dec 28, 2009 12:54 am Date Climbed: Sep 1, 1995

2/3 Marathon, Epic #4  Sucess!

Climbed this and Middle Sis as part of a 3 Sisters marathon attempt, ended up bailing off S. Sis and doing a very very long circumnavigation around S. Sis in the dark. Went up the North (Ugly) Sister a 2nd time, from Pole Creek.


alpinedon - Nov 22, 2009 10:06 pm

Black Beast Of The Cascades  Sucess!

Did this climb with some new friends and some Obsidian members, good size group, but made good time. I chose to climb the summit rocks unroped, though some chose to use a fixed line. Really enjoyable day, the couple that went on the climb ended up engaged before we returned to camp.


rmick25 - Sep 4, 2009 3:36 pm Date Climbed: Aug 11, 2009

Finally Northy  Sucess!

Third time was a charm! Conditions finally permitted. Route wasn't nearly as difficult or exposed as previously thought. Damn fun and rock in upper bowling alley was surprisingly solid all things considered. Took sweet route (5.3?)up left side of Bowling alley to summit


rmick25 - Sep 4, 2009 3:31 pm

Re: First Cascades climb

Turns out we were to low! Couldn't believe it either. James and I along with another friend finally climbed it early Aug.


JGHarrison - Jun 22, 2009 12:20 am Date Climbed: Jun 21, 2009

First Cascades climb

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


olsenn - Sep 17, 2008 1:20 pm Date Climbed: Sep 13, 2008

If it doesn't seem right, it probably isn't  Sucess!

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.


oregonrpa - Sep 9, 2008 1:13 pm Date Climbed: Sep 6, 2008

North Sister/Three Sisters marathon  Sucess!

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.


cascadetraveler - Aug 6, 2008 10:02 am Date Climbed: Aug 3, 2008

South ridge climb/Traverse.  Sucess!

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!

Steve Rydin

Steve Rydin - Jul 6, 2008 1:37 pm Date Climbed: Aug 18, 2007

North Sister - SE Ridge  Sucess!

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!


YEM - Aug 28, 2007 4:57 pm Date Climbed: Aug 26, 2007

SE Spur  Sucess!

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.

Mr. Clam

Mr. Clam - Aug 26, 2007 4:01 pm Date Climbed: Aug 24, 2007

SE Ridge  Sucess!

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.

vancouver islander

vancouver islander - Aug 5, 2007 6:56 pm Date Climbed: Jul 31, 2007

SW Ridge  Sucess!

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.

Jesus Malverde

Jesus Malverde - Jul 21, 2007 6:21 pm Date Climbed: Jul 14, 2007

South Ridge/Prouty Pinnacle South Horn

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. :)

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