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South Sister Report - 18 Jun 15
Completed this summit on 18 Jun -- definitely one of the tougher mountains my wife and I have climbed (we've done several 14ers in Colorado). We were pleasantly surprised by the snow (or lack thereof) conditions on the mountain. Having read several reviews & trip reports prior to going, it seemed that most people do this hike in late July/early Aug. I was hoping that b/c that area had less snow this year, that it'd be doable mid-June. Fortunately it was -- we didn't encounter snow until about a mile after passing the Morraine Lake split. Even then, depending on the time of day you could trudge through the slushy snow or make a route through the rocks w/o having to even step in the snow. We started the hike a little before 7 so the snow was still a bit icy, but were were able to avoid walking in it w/ a couple exceptions. However, those areas were well travelled w/ footprints to follow. We had brought our snowshoes to OR w/ us just in case, but opted not to bring them on the trail--that was a good decision b/c we wouldn't have needed them. Several folks we saw had ice axes and crampons -- we just used hiking poles and they were sufficient; though you might consider bringing an ice ax if you intend on glissading down the mountain to help w/ doing a self-arrest (we just used our poles). The loose gravel as you reach the "red rocks" is tough -- definitely recommend wearing solid footwear w/ good traction. After the "false summit" you have the option of walking across a slightly uphill snowfield/glacier to the true summit or walking along a ridge to the right (don't follow the ridge to the left). We opted for the ridge on the way out and snowfield on the way back (much easier to travel down in snow than up). The entire trek took us 9 hours which included several glissades on the way down (tons of fun!).
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