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#721334 - 09/07/07 10:40 AM Three Sisters Marathon
Couloir Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 1694
TRs: 1 Photos: 14
Loc: Portland
I'm commited to doing this...one of these days. But the bar has definitely been raised by these guys.

A five-peak marathon
Three Bend endurance athletes climb the Three Sisters, Broken Top and Bachelor in 15 hours, 30 minutes
By Mark Morical / The Bulletin
Published: September 07. 2007 5:00AM PST


Three endurance athletes from Central Oregon got together one day last month to run about 37 miles.

An impressive feat — but much more so considering the terrain they covered across those 37 miles. To get an idea of their route, find a viewpoint in Bend and look west toward the mountain-filled horizon.

Mitch Thompson, Max King and Dave Clark, all of Bend, ran up and down North Sister, Middle Sister, South Sister, Broken Top and Mount Bachelor — all in in 15 hours and 30 minutes.

By their calculations, they gained and lost about 18,000 feet of elevation, using no climbing gear, and taking only short breaks to purify water.

The three athletes used their superb fitness and climbing skills to break the only known record of the nonsupported, continuous five-peak hike by more than 10 hours. Pat Creedican of Bend accomplished the feat in 26:55 in 2001.

King, 27, is an accomplished distance runner; Clark, 47, is the cross-country and distance track coach at Bend’s Summit High School; and Thompson, 38, is an experienced climber with intricate knowledge of backcountry trails and climbs.

The trio gathered before sunrise on Aug. 22 at the Pole Creek Trailhead near Sisters, where they began their epic trek at 5:30 a.m. They were on top of Mount Bachelor by 8 p.m. to watch the sunset.

In an interview last week to discuss their journey, all three climbers agreed that the most difficult — and frightening — parts of the adventure were the climbs up 10,085-foot North Sister and the north side of 10,358-foot South Sister. (South Sister is a relatively easy climb up the south side, but extremely precipitous up the north side.)

“I just had an extraordinary amount of fear on the north side of South Sister, much more than I anticipated,” Clark recalled. “There were many places where I felt like if I fell, I would die. It’s not a happy feeling. And I COULD NOT have done it, if I wasn’t with these guys.”

Typically, on North Sister and Broken Top, climbers use ropes and harnesses to ascend the steep, technical portions of the climbs. Because they were going for the fastest time possible, Clark, King and Thompson did not bring any such gear, making for some adrenaline-powered ascents.

“Most people do (need climbing gear),” King said. “I wouldn’t take anybody else up there, unless they were real comfortable with their climbing abilities. Broken Top is a pretty vertical climb, North is a vertical climb; you can’t fall — or you’re gone.”

Said Thompson: “If I went up there with somebody inexperienced, I would have ropes and a harness. If you fall … it’s certainly not like the (more forgiving) climbers’ trail on South Sister.”

Thompson, Clark and King all had climbed each of the five peaks before. And they all knew each other as members of the vibrant outdoor adventure community in Central Oregon. Thompson approached Clark and King with the idea to make the five-peak run, and just two days later they were making tracks in the Central Oregon Cascades.

To travel light and fast, they took with them on their adventure only the bare minimum: small packs with food (energy bars, gels, sandwiches), water, a first-aid kit, and a small water purifier so they could drink water from streams and lakes.

Clark, King and Thompson started with the ascent of North Sister, by far the most technically challenging of the five peaks, according to Clark.

“You have to go through the ‘Bowling Alley,’” Clark said. “On the very top part of North (Sister), you’re squeezed into this little chute, and if anything falls, it’s coming at you. We wore bike helmets.”

From the top of North Sister, it took the three just about one hour to reach the summit of 10,047-foot Middle Sister.

Descending Middle Sister was not easy, Thompson recalled.

“It’s nasty,” he said. “Just a massive field of baby-head rocks … very precarious footing. You could twist an ankle or knee really easily.”

The route from Middle Sister to South Sister was long and arduous, the runners said. They made their way up the treacherous north side of South Sister in clouds that shrouded the top of the mountain. But they enjoyed clear weather the rest of the way.

Navigation was easy for the three climbers during their trek. They used a topographical map and relied on their knowledge of the area.

“It’s easy when you can see the next mountain,” King said. “We didn’t even use the map, really, because we knew where we were going. You pick your own route a lot of the time.”

They continued on, up and down 9,175-foot Broken Top, and finally, up and down 9,065-foot Bachelor, by far the easiest of the five peaks to ascend and descend. Once they reached the bottom of Bachelor, finally finished, King and Thompson were tired but otherwise OK. Clark, however, was severely dehydrated.

“Physically, going up Bachelor was the hardest part for me,” Clark recalled. “I was just dehydrated. My muscles were cramping, and it was hard. Sometimes, it just hits you.”

King had little time to recover from the five-peak climb: Just two days later, he was running in the Hood to Coast Relay, helping Team XO finish fifth overall in the team relay race from Mount Hood to Seaside. King said his average mile time in the event was 5 minutes, 10 seconds.

“All my friends on my Hood to Coast team thought I was nuts,” King said.

King, Clark, and Thompson said they never doubted they could accomplish the five-peak feat.

“It was just a matter of how fast are we going to do it,” Thompson said.

Thompson is wary of other endurance athletes who may try to beat the 15:30 mark up the Three Sisters, Broken Top and Bachelor.

“You need to be in great shape, you need to have some climbing skills, and you need to know what you’re doing and where you’re going,” Thompson advised. “And there is a small group of people in this town, some of these XC Oregon (elite cross-country ski team) guys, who would be guys that would be eyeing this up and try to beat our time.”

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#721337 - 09/07/07 10:58 AM Re: Three Sisters Marathon [Re: Couloir]
dan_forester Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 11/13/03
Posts: 577
TRs: 1 Photos: 21
Loc: Portland, OR
that's pretty cool.

Ok, now who's going to make the first uncage the soul/human-dog-speed-ascent/third-party-timer joke? dru?

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#721521 - 09/08/07 07:55 AM Re: Three Sisters Marathon [Re: dan_forester]
gapertimmy Offline
spray'prentice

Registered: 10/28/00
Posts: 4485
TRs: 42 Photos: 252
Loc: YARRRR
Crazy.
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#721533 - 09/08/07 08:48 AM Re: Three Sisters Marathon [Re: gapertimmy]
Couloir Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 1694
TRs: 1 Photos: 14
Loc: Portland
Quote:
“I just had an extraordinary amount of fear on the north side of South Sister, much more than I anticipated,” Clark recalled. “There were many places where I felt like if I fell, I would die. It’s not a happy feeling. And I COULD NOT have done it, if I wasn’t with these guys.”


I wonder if these guys ended up going up the North Face Couloir instead of the easier NW Ridge. Without snow that would be a sketchy section for sure.

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#724029 - 09/17/07 12:19 PM Re: Three Sisters Marathon [Re: Couloir]
Gidget Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 208
TRs: 0 Photos: 2
Loc: Massapooshits
Very Nice!!!
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It's like Russian Roulette, more fun to watch than to play.

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#726003 - 09/23/07 06:43 AM Re: Three Sisters Marathon [Re: Gidget]
Mountain_Shots Offline
n00b

Registered: 06/05/07
Posts: 41
TRs: 2 Photos: 133
Loc: The foot of the Sisters in Sis...
A few years back Kendall Cook set out to solo climb eight mountains back to back. He summited Thielsen, Bailey, Scott Mountain, and McLoughlin. The next day he was car shuttled North and climbed the Three Sisters. Opting out on Broken Top, he settled for Seven peaks in two days. Not bad. But Kendall wasn't finnished. He wanted to throw some bigger mountains in the mix. I met Kendall Cook and Mitch Thompson on the summit of Mt. Jefferson on their first summit of an eight mountain marathon heading South. Due to some high winds on Washington, they had some trouble rapelling which put them behind their agreed food pick up on Mckenzie Pass. I was more than happy to run them up two grocrey sacks of grub from Sisters to keep them going. Their goal was to climb Jefferson, Three Finger, Washington, North Sister, Middle Sister, South Sister, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor. They met their goal in four and a half days. Impressive to say the least.

The first attempt to climb all Three Sisters in a day took place in 1926 according to Oregon High. The climbers didn't make it. Slowly, the challenge became more popular and more locals steped up to the feat. Bob Sandburg likely holds the record for the most climbs, he stopped counting at eight. If he hadn't been slowed down by the car that knocked him off his bike and broke him up pretty good, he would have many more climbs to his name. After several marathon trips, Bob thought about adding Broken Top and Bachelor to the list. by the time he climbed the Three Sisters and Broken Top, he ran out of gas. He talked Pat Creedican into trying for five. In his early fifties, Pat set out solo and the race was on. He ran into Kendall Cook on the North side of South Sister. Kendall was scouting his route for the Three Sister's section of his 8 mountain goal. Pat went on to complete the five mountains in 26 hours, just barely over the 24 hour goal.

A few years back, I managed to solo the Three Sisters just under half a day. I was set on trying the five under 24. I felt I could do that even being past my prime in my early fifties. Sandberg swore there was a short cut off South Sister dropping down to the Old Crater Route, linking into Broken Top. The day I was scouting this route out was the last day of the season before the snows hit. I missed my chance for the year.

Bend Living Magazine, October, 2007, has an article by Kevin Grove about his Marathon venture with Max King. Kevin works at Rebound in Bend and has been putting on workshops at Smith with Steve House on fitness training and mountain skills. Kevin and Max finished the Three Sisters Traverse in 8 hours, 59 minutes.

The days for the average mountaineer to set a ball busting record are gone. My congrats to Mitch, Max and Dave. 5 mountains, 8 1/2 hours faster than what I had hoped to do. Where the numbers will go I don't know but the game is now calling out to the best of the best.






A group of Three Sisters Marathoners.
This photo was taken at one of Bob Sandberg's slideshows.
Third from left is Pat Creedican. Bob Sandberg is wearing the green shirt with his summit dog Reggie.



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#726004 - 09/23/07 06:54 AM Re: Three Sisters Marathon [Re: Mountain_Shots]
Couloir Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 1694
TRs: 1 Photos: 14
Loc: Portland
Interesting.

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#747572 - 11/28/07 06:05 PM Re: Three Sisters Marathon [Re: Couloir]
beaconben Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/04
Posts: 112
TRs: 1 Photos: 12
Loc: Portland, OR
simon weaver and 2 other guys did the 3 sisters, broken top and bachelor in less than 24 hrs a few years back

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#836614 - 09/15/08 04:25 PM Re: Three Sisters Marathon [Re: Mountain_Shots]
wimsey Offline
member

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 100
TRs: 0 Photos: 0
Loc: bend
 Originally Posted By: Mountain_Shots

Bend Living Magazine, October, 2007, has an article by Kevin Grove about his Marathon venture with Max King... Kevin and Max finished the Three Sisters Traverse in 8 hours, 59 minutes.

The days for the average mountaineer to set a ball busting record are gone. My congrats to Mitch, Max and Dave.


What is the fastest known time for the marathon, Pole Creek to Devil's Lake? I bet it would go under 7 hours, if it hasn't already.

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#836770 - 09/16/08 12:10 AM Re: Three Sisters Marathon [Re: wimsey]
Couloir Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 1694
TRs: 1 Photos: 14
Loc: Portland
Not sure who keeps records of this stuff, but I say go for it. 7 hours is probably doable if jogging the entire route is doable for you. The crux is the bowling alley. If you can get through that quickly and unscathed, then you're really only faced with a lot of energy-sucking scree to contend with everywhere else. Make sure you have the correct ridge picked out on the north side SS before you head up. It's pretty straight forward, but just find your route well in advance. Good luck!

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#838132 - 09/19/08 06:40 PM Re: Three Sisters Marathon [Re: Couloir]
rocky_joe Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 02/25/08
Posts: 507
TRs: 16 Photos: 72
Loc: High Horse Mountain
Yeah I agree with couloir. Maineiac another friend and i just completed the Sisters marathon a few weekends ago (I still need to write a TR). We definitely could have done better to find out route in advance. Under zero moonlight conditions we forced to bivy at around 9000' on S. Sis after failing to find the ridge off. (16.5 hrs car-S sis summit: 28 car to car) Not a fun night. Oh and contrary to what I'd been told...the North Ridge of S Sis is definitely the crux. Fatigue, bad rock, exposed moves, even a difficult class 4 here and there. The bowling alley was cake and the rock was great. Definitely be prepared for a long day. King and Clark are ridiculous...I have a friend who was in his HS cross country program. The man is loco for enduro type feats. And Max King is a 90 mile/week steeple chaser here is eugene, i'm sure it was a breeze for him.
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