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[TR] Three Sisters Marathon - Standard Route(s) 08/22/2020

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Trip: Three Sisters Marathon - Standard Route(s)

Trip Date: 08/22/2020

Trip Report:


Summary:  Drove over to Pole Creek from Portland on Friday 8/21, even though the USFS website says the area is closed.  Based on the fact that there were 50 cars at the trailhead, no one was fooled.  My timeline is below.  Certainly not bragging, but perhaps indicative of what a normal person could expect as opposed to the athletes on this site.  I think I went the way most do.  Up the SE Ridge of North, down the S Ridge across the snow and up Middle, down the S side of Middle and up the N Ridge of South.


  • 4:00am - Departed Pole Creek Trailhead
  • 4:30am - Begin bushwhack just past Soap Creek (lots of windthrow)
  • 9:03am - Summit North Sister
  • 12:12pm - Summit Middle Sister
  • 5:06pm - Summit South Sister
  • 7:56pm - Back at Camp Lake
  • 11:45pm - Back at car at Pole Creek
  • 11:46pm - First sip of cold beer all day (Russian River Blind Pig IPA)
  • 11:47pm - Remove shoes
  • 3:30am - Arrive home in Portland

Beta:  There is a lot of windthrow after you leave the trail near Soap Creek.  In the dark, it is harder to pick your way through.  There is no snow or ice on the Traverse or in the Bowling Alley.  I climbed up the right side of the bowling alley on the "more solid" rock that looks back down over the Traverse.  There is a piece of pro that someone left mid-traverse, but they forgot my fixed line.  There are at least two fresh slings on the main rap rock at the top of the Bowling Alley.  And, over on the North Ridge of South Sister, someone was nice enough to leave a rope, leading around the last band of rock, just below the lower-angle section at the top.  Slings there not quite as fresh!


  • I'm getting way too old for this.
  • This is very likely the last time I go up North Sister.
  • After you get about 8 miles from a trailhead, there are very few people who are not really fit.
  • There are lots of butterflies up top right now!
  • Now, I totally understand why people drop a car at the other side of South!

Photos:  Took a few, but I will spare you the selfies of my ugly mug holding up one, two, and three fingers at the top of each hill!









Gear Notes:
Tennis Shoes and water

Approach Notes:
Pole Creek TH up SE Ridge of North Sister and onward

Edited by dinomyte
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Nice work! Question for you: after leaving the flats near Pole Creek, what were your water sources? Anything in between North and Middle or Middle and South?

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Jenny, a couple weeks ago, water was plentiful.  I do not typically require too much water.  I took a 3-liter and a partially full nalgene.  I really did not need any more.  But, you had to cross a small glacial stream between North and Middle.  Nothing was right on my route going down Middle, but there was a melting glacier to my left as I was heading up the north Ridge on South.  I actually filled my nalgene on the way down South to make sure I was set for the walk out.

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Did the marathon yesterday but went up the West Ridge of South https://imgur.com/gallery/yYDUvoc and got a ride back to Pole Creek Trailhead (cheating). See attached GPX of the route.

There is small stream of water to climber's right coming off the snow between Middle and North in the saddle - didn't get any from this. Between Middle and South there is a snow field near the bottom on descender's right which had a nice stream of water that ran into one of the Chambers Lakes - drank from this. There was also a nice stream at the plateau north of the West Ridge - drank from this.

I took 4 liters and wished I had 6, it was warm though. Probably drank 1.5 liter of water from the snow melts.

Three Sisters Marathon - S Sister W.gpx

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any current conditions beta on the 3 sisters traverse?  especially wondering about snow/ice on traverse/bowling alley of north, water btwn north and middle, and reccs. for going up south...north or nw ridge?

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