I have always thought of South Sister as one of the most beautiful mountains in the entire Cascade Range. I try to climb the volcano at least once every summer. The six-mile hike up from Devils Lake is a great conditioner for both the body and the mind during the summer months. I am hoping to get away from the "tourist route" and maybe try for a less-traveled route on the west side of the volcano in summer 2004. This is no Mt. Rainier climb, but
South Sister will always be a special climbing destination for me for as long as I have the ability to do it.
The day was hot and we didn't get started until late, so the climb up was a little painful...
The views from above are amazing and a few vistas on the way up are worth the walk. At the top went right around the rim of the crater which was fun cause I got to walk in the snow.
Going down was so easy, I love going down volcanoes, it's so quick!
I think it would be great to do it when there is snow.
This is a fine easy climb --- perfect to convince beginners that they should like mountaineering.
Don't bother to climb this in the late summer or fall, when it is nothing but a miserable cinder slog.
Spring/Winter climbs are fine though -- if the snow is consolidated, you can cruise right in on foot.
Despite the low technical challenge, the views from the top of South Sister are, in my opinion, some of the best in all of the Cascades.
South Side (November 1, 2003)
After a bitter cold and short night at Devil's Lake trailhead ascended the standard south side route. I was hoping for snow to avoid the usual scree slog but most of the trail is still snow free. The cold forecast must have scared away everybody, saw only a party of 4 the entire day, so remarkably was the only one on the summit enjoying the views in every direction. Will need to come back in spring to ski it.
South Side (July 2001)
Long scree slog and many people on the trail. It was definitely not a wilderness experience. Broke my altitude record and was impressed by the flat crater on top.
Had a great climb with the family.
After a day of climbing at Smith, we hiked in to Morraine Lake in a fabulous thunderstorm Sat night. Met the rest of our party there, two of them were coming up and over North, Middle and South Sisters. Woke to blue skies and sunshine on Sun, left the lake 8:45a, summit 11:30a (all 8 of us and 4 dogs!) Actually had the summit mostly to ourselves, relatively calm and sunny on top. Much less snow then last year on the glaciers, boot skied down scree a good part of the way down. Stopped at the lake for food and to pack up, back to the car around 4:30. Giovanni's in Mill City was still open on the way home!
Have climbed this now from both routes and fill the Green lakes route is the way to go. Nice views of Glaciers, Waterfalls and the Lakes. Only saw one other person on the climbing trail until it meet up with the south route.
Fantastic 360 deg views from the crater rim made this trip wonderful despite the wide trail from heavy usage and tons of people. Saw faint dark colored smoke/steam rising from the SE ,outside of crater rim . Climbed with my 13 yo daughter , we summited in 5 hours from Devils Lake TH, spent 2 hours sightseeing around the crater .
Very dry this time of year. Great camping at Morraine lake. Left early to beat the heat and the crowds.
Was a very long, steep, dusty 5 hour climb from Devil's Lake Trailhead. Non-Technical this time of year, as they say, but would definitely want crampons and an ice axe in winter as the last 1300-foot pitch is fairly steep and loose. The trail itself I didn't find all that spectacular, as the overall terrain is very barren and dusty, add to that at least 100 people on a Sunday, it didn't make for the most pleasant climb. However, it was satisfying to summit, as this is definitely a lung-burner! It is a fairly "easy" climb as far as big mountains go. After a lot of determination and endurance, you will be rewarded at the top with a beautiful snow-filled crater and the Teardrop Pool, and incredible views of every peak in the Southern Cascades. I would recommend avoiding summer weekends, as I spent a lot of time waiting for the crowds to clear the trail (more like a playground than a wilderness); and ski poles would have been beneficial on the glissade back down. There are much prettier climbs in Oregon, but I feel a great satisfaction from the accomplishment. -Erik Zadow, Portland, OR
Took 4 1/2 hours to summit from Devils Lake trailhead. Temperature was perfect, come and go clouds, not many hikers for a Saturday, mostly clear on the summit. A couple of runners dressed only in short shorts and low top running shoes were impressing the hell out of all us walkers. They said they took an hour and 50 minutes to reach the south summit from Devils Lake. Hmmmmmm. Met a couple above Lewis Glacier who said they were 75 and 76 years old. Now that's impressive! Of course they made it to the top. Nobody quits above Lewis Glacier! Was accosted by a forest ranger working on the trail who wanted to see my Northwest Forest Pass. Why did he pick on me?! Did I look like I sneaked on to the mountain through some illegal back door? When I threatened to show it to him he backed off and the confrontation ended. (I had a pass but it was not visible). The incident kind of put me off a little bit as there were other people present whose passes were not showing and I was the only one he spoke to. Despite that it was a good experience overall, one I'd do again. Let's see, the hike is listed as 5 1/2 miles up so if I averaged 18 minute miles I could reach the summit in one hour 39 minutes thus beating the hotshots by 11 minutes. Scuse me. Gotta go train.
Perfect day for this most picturesque route. Very clear views - we could even make out Mt. Adams on the horizon more than 140 miles distant. Mosquitos were bad as usual on the lower 1.5 miles (from Devils Lake trailhead). I've climbed this one about 6 or 7 times over the years and it's one of the best for views.
Great climb. Still a lot of snow this time of year, which made following trail difficult from Devil's Lake trailhead to the timberline. GPS and compass were useful when we descended and wanted to find the right spot to re-enter the treeline.
Wanted to start at 2 a.m., but couldn't see well enough on moonless night to actually begin the trail to timberline. Actual start: 5 am. Amazing views on the way up. Only six other climbers that day. We practically had the mountain to ourselves. Beautiful opalescent lake forming at base of Lewis Glacier. Several large crevasses on the glacier made the pumice ridge to the summit a more appealing (and safe) option.
The face of the mountain leading up to the ridge at the base of Lewis glacier was a real slog up...slow going, but not difficult, just tedious.
Plan to do this mountain again in summer to see the change in landscape.
Cheeseburgers and beer at Deschutes Brewing in Bend made any slogging that day worth it all!
I slept in the back of my 4Runner at Devils Lake with the intent of soloing. Gorgeous day except for the fires both north and south of the peak. It was my first solo of a volcano. 26th and 27th Oregon county highpoints (Lane and Deschutes).
Camped at Devils Lake. Started off under sunny skys and a clear view of the summit, but as we came out of the forest onto Wickiup Plain a full view of the now cloud capped Sister greeted us. Snow level was at 6,000 ft. very low for early September, but this is Oregon, gotta love it! Continued across the moonscape like rolling plain watching the mountain hoping the clouds would lift, but they never did. They just clung to the upper portions of the mountain teasing us with very brief periods of partial clearing. The temperature dropped quickly as we climbed and just above the Lewis Glacier moraine at about 9,000 ft. we entered the clouds and left the view behind for the remander of the climb. I thought I was climbing to heaven, nothing but white and silence, other than my own breathing. When I reached the false summit there was a brisk wind and a temperature in the mid twenties. Walked around the rim to the summit, which wasn't visible from the false summit on this day, to complete my climb. Came back two weeks later to climb under cloudless skys to get the views that we missed. Beautiful place to be!
At about 3:30 a.m. I set out on snowshoes from the Devils Lake trailhead. I cached my snowshoes at the top of the plateau and followed an established boottrack up to the base of the Lewis Glacier. There it became very windy and I put on crampons.
Crossing the summit crater the wind picked up dramatically. I crawled on hands and knees to peek my head over the summit cornice, where the winds were 70+ mi/hr, gusting higher. At this point I watched as one of my expensive overmitts flew out of my grasp and over the precipice.
I hadn't seen anyone else for this solo ascent, but since it was Memorial Day I met dozens of people on the way down. Once I got back to the base of the Lewis Glacier I could see the giant lenticular cloud hovering to the east. After a few glissades and a long, tedious slog across the very wet snow of the plateau, I finally made it back to the trailhead by early afternoon.
On that day massive lenticular clouds were hanging over most of the Cascade volcanoes, most notably Mt. Jefferson.
The loose, unmaintained, and very dusty use trail up South Sister isn't really a pleasant hike. Incredible up-close views of the volcanic landscape around the Three Sisters make it worth it though. It's also worthwhile to take a tour around the summit crater. When I went down to take a closer look at Teardrop Pool, I noticed bubbles rising to the surface and a sulfurous odor. It's evidence of volcanic activity on South Sister that I haven't read about anywhere else.
Climbed this solo under a full moon and Summited at 6:30 am, had the summit to myself. Views from jefferson to thielsen, with especially nice views to the south. I counted 37 people going up as i was descending.
Started about 7 am from Devils Lake with our group of five and were immediately passed by serious trekkers with important mountain equipment. Telescoping poles are really an asset going up, and even more handy coming back down. The trek up was really tough on my poor hip joints (having the oldest joints in the group) but the summit and points in between were worth the pain. No bugs/rain/snow. The summit clouded up as soon as we arrived and it got kind of windy, but just before starting to descend we got the wonderful 360 view to take back in memory. Carry clothing for weather that can quickly sneak up on the mountain and can probably be very nasty. The best part of the experience was being able to make that journey with my two sons. Makes me smile.
Left Corvallis in the morning and departed from Devil’s Lake Trail head. Took a few hours up. Sorta crummy, weather was nice but the mountain is covered in scree. Beautiful day but not able to see anything because of the forest fires.