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#1156127 - 08/04/17 12:58 PM [TR] South Sister - Hodge Crest Cliff & Scree Fest (east) 7/17/2017
nonbasketless Offline

Registered: 11/26/12
Posts: 3
TRs: 1 Photos: 0
Loc: Portland, OR
Trip: South Sister - Hodge Crest Cliff & Scree Fest (east)

Date: 7/17/2017

Trip Report:
Hello! I'm excited to post! Lurked this great site for years.

So, I climbed South Sister a couple weeks back and figured it was interesting enough for me to want to share with ya'll kind strangers.

One fine, calm, cool Sunday I left Portland for Green Lakes. When I got there, there were only two other camping parties (?) and I got a pristine spot. Unfortunately I was afflicted with a severe headache which made enjoying things hard, but that passed overnight.

My plan was to ascend the east face directly up to Hodge Crest, which is the peak of a former, older South Sister. I pieced together a plan using Google Maps and some inspiration from Jeff Thomas' Oregon High, which says:

"The top of the ridge is fairly broken up. Try to avoid treeing yourself by skirting low on the south side."

(labelled 18) Sounds/looks easy, though "skirting low" contradicts the picture. Whatever. I spent some time on Google Maps and was mainly worried about gaining the crest, which seemed guarded by cliffs. After identifying from my campsite a delightful route up which exploited snow covering the aforementioned cliffs (a bit more north than what's in the picture above), I was walking at a leisurely 9:00.

Getting to the crest was uneventful. The snow was just starting to form a deep moat against the crest, so I guess my timing was lucky. I gained the ridge, sighted the summit proper, and began my leisurely walk to it, until I was stopped by a little cliff not visible from my campsite and not visible from Google Maps. Though totally visible in a photo taken by an awesome pilot I once flew with, which I should've consulted.

It was big enough that a fall would, umm, hurt, but otherwise pretty small, and someone had left a rappel sling. If I had no kid and less respect for life, I might've attempted to go over it, but opted instead to lose about 500 ft and go through a slot in what turned out to be an almost continuous cliff band to the glacier below. It was really demoralizing.

Then it sucked worse. The slopes across the mountain here are of a firmer, heavier version of awful scree, right at the repose angle, crowned at the top with alternating bands of heavy (grey) boulders supported by, what's the technical term? Loose lava foam (red)? Boulders were coming down once every few minutes. I ran across it nervously, and hated the experience, occasionally yelling things like "moommmmmy!" and "my daughter needs me!".

Getting to the summit was uneventful. Getting off... ideally I'd avoid the crest and its approach entirely for mellower slopes down, but I'd brilliantly ditched my crampons and additions to my rock collection right near it, which means (assuming I value my things more than my life) I need to get back up there. Bleh.

I made things initially nicer by descending the standard south route, then crossing the Lewis glacier, avoiding the scree field but now needing to ascend a different slot on the cliffs, which look to be made of firmer rhyolite. Maybe? Should be better, right?

No. No no no. So much loose rock. Tastelessly long. My right hand is hurting too, and climbing occasional easy/breaky 5th class like that... at least it was type 2 fun, unlike the scree field gamble.

I got my crampons/rocks, and enjoyed the longest/best glissade ever. Got home in the middle of the night.

No regrets.

Gear Notes:
One teensy little rope for the cliff would've made this trip sooooo much nice.

Approach Notes:
No, you're not bleeding all over, those are just remnants of mosquitoes which are so abundant you can't not accidentally smoosh them.

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#1156130 - 08/04/17 09:07 PM Re: [TR] South Sister - Hodge Crest Cliff & Scree Fest (east) 7/17/2017 [Re: nonbasketless]
ivan Offline
Sick Spray Bird

Registered: 03/12/02
Posts: 17478
TRs: 118 Photos: 1803
Loc: Oceania
it kiiiiiiinda sounds fun... smile
Ignorance is Strength
War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery

#1156133 - 08/05/17 09:10 AM Re: [TR] South Sister - Hodge Crest Cliff & Scree Fest (east) 7/17/2017 [Re: nonbasketless]
bellows Offline

Registered: 08/11/08
Posts: 152
TRs: 29 Photos: 315
Loc: Seattle
Nice pics and entertaining dialogue, thanks for posting! What's peering out at you in the dark?

#1156140 - 08/05/17 10:11 PM Re: [TR] South Sister - Hodge Crest Cliff & Scree Fest (east) 7/17/2017 [Re: nonbasketless]
nonbasketless Offline

Registered: 11/26/12
Posts: 3
TRs: 1 Photos: 0
Loc: Portland, OR
Thank you! I aspire to someday write as well as mitochondria. That's a deer that kept clumsily wandering near my tent and then thundering off. Annoying. Oh well, I was sleeping in its home, uninvited.


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