Although I had climbed South Sister several times before, this was the first ascent for my wife, Alisa. She had wanted to climb after hearing our stories about previous escapades and seeing the pictures of other friends on top of the mountain.
So after work on the Friday of Labor Day Weekend, we packed up, left the (grown) kids to fend for themselves and headed for Devil's Lake Campground at about 6PM from Eugene. We stopped at the quaint Cultus Lake Resort to buy our NW Forest Pass, and found the Devil's Lake parking lot next to the South Sister Climbing trail sign just before dark. The last rays of light lit the summit as it loomed in a crack between the hills while we had a quick dinner by the campstove before bed.
Leaving at about 7AM amidst a number of laughing and joking groups heading up, we made the plateau by 8:30 AM, and found the mountain draped in a curtain of fast moving clouds. But from time to time, the summit appeared ahead of us, which gave us hope for a clear summit attempt. Unusually cold (40's) and very windy weather for August, made us glad we had packed parkas in our day packs. By the time we reached the cinder cone on the mountain side, the wind had died down, and the sun greeted us although below the valleys were draped in a blanket of white. Slogging up the skree, we made the summit rim by 12:30 and the summit by about 1PM. Luckily, the clouds had thinned and we found a wonderful view of the Middle and North Sisters on the summit as well as clear views of Mt. Washington, Mt. Jefferson and even Mt. St. Helen's (?) in the distance to the north.
Although the skree sliding down was long and dusty, all and all it was a very fun day up on the mountain and a great first ascent for Alisa. By the time we made it back to the plateau, the mountain had cleared and was in beautiful sunshine, showing off it's red and green lava sections. Some Advil and time will hopefully help Alisa to forget the long trudge back to the car, and I can convince her to join me again for another climbing adventure this Fall.
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