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Middle/South Sister


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I am planning a Middle/South Sister traverse (skill level prevents the full marathon) and I am looking for information on the best routes for this climb. I will be climbing with a friend who is "greener" than I am at climbing. I would like to keep the routes comparable to Hood south side, Adams Mazama Glacier; although the standard class 0 dog routes do not interest me.

If you have done this or have been to the area and have a good idea of how to approach it I would love to hear from you.


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Climbing4fun -

A combination of Middle and North Sister would be much easier, because they can both be climbed from the high saddle between them. This can be reached via the very scenic Collier Glacier approach (from the old McKenzie Pass road to the northwest) or, perhaps slightly shorter, via the Hayden Glacier approach from the Pole Creek trail out of Sisters, to the Northeast. The north ridge of the Middle Sister is moderately steep scree with, until middle season, one or two short bits of steep snow. There is some earlier discussion of the North Sister on this site, and the Smoot volcano guide could be read to suggest that even the standard S. Ridge route is dangerous. However, I have taken beginning climbers up it many times and if you are careful with party management and aware of where others are on the climb, the route is not that bad. The last 250 feet or so involve a steep traverse on exposed scree (snow early to mid-season), followed by a loose gully and a short rock scramble.

The easier routes on the South Sister lie on the south and west sides, far away from the Middle Sister, and there would be something like ten miles of hiking between the two. To combine these two from one camp you would have to climb from the Chambers Lakes area. From there, you could climb the north side of the South Sister, which is more difficult then the routes you referred to and also probably not all that enjoyable, wand the south side of the Middle Sister, a big rubble heap. If you opt for the trail hiking,you could combine the standard south route on South Sister with either the Hayden Glacier route on Middle (noted above) or the Renfrew Glacier on the west side of the mountain.

The Sisters offer wonderful cross-country travel, generally with gentler terrain and much less brush than the Washington Cascades. If you might be up for cross-country travel and a climb slightly more difficult than the comparison routes you mentioned, you could combine the Prouty Glacier on South Sister (steep for 500 feet and often has a schrund and a short bit of rock climbing) and then head over for the Hayden-Diller on Middle. These would probably be most easily accessed from a trailhead near Snow Creek, to the east.

Have fun.


[This message has been edited by mattp (edited 08-02-2001).]

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I was in the area recently and it looks as if the routes are suffering from a serious lack of snow as compared to other years. Some have melted away and may be more tedious/dangerous than usual for this time of year. Maybe 2 months ahead of last year. Just a heads up. Everything Mattp says is right on. The south is closer to broken top so those two could be combined. The n.w.ridge on broken top may be a good choice if your nervous about the north. It is easy enough that many solo it but it does not seem like a dog route. Wherever you go you will love the scenery and easy approaches and you have 5 mountains(minimum) in your face. Have fun.

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