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S_Carter

[TR] Three Sisters ski tour attempt (North and Middle) - 6/7/2008

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Trip: Three Sisters ski tour attempt (North and Middle) -

 

Date: 6/7/2008

 

Trip Report:

My partner and I saw a weather window and decided try to ski each of the Three Sisters over a relaxed three day period with entry and exit via Pole Creek. Leaving Eugene at 6:30 am, we had enough time to ski in, set up camp at 7,400' and to climb the north ridge of Middle Sister that first day. Sastrugi at around 9,000 feet caused us to leave the skis and hike up to the summit on crampons. The ski descent was good. The Hayden Glacier was in excellent shape for skiing.

 

The following morning, we slept to 6 am, mistakenly thinking that we would have plenty of time to climb North Sister, get back and move our camp to Camp Lake. We ascended with skis on our backs up the south slope between the southeast and southwest ridges. This slope appeared to be a great place for a ski descent. We encountered a couple of other climbers coming down from the summit. Otherwise, it did not appear that there had been much traffic on that part of the mountain. The "Terrible Traverse" took a lot of time as usual but felt pretty good. We got into a position of descending about 15 feet of nearly vertical, soft snow that felt a little weird though. Going up the "Bowling Alley" placed us in a bit of a crux. About 3/4 of the way up, there was a 10 foot section of nearly vertical, thin layer of rotten rime ice. Fortunately, while chopping away the rime, I found a bit of water ice mixed within the underling frozen rock and was able to place our only ice screw. We rappeled off the south side of Prouty Pinnacle. I believe that we had fairly good anchors for the three rappels but backed up the top anchor with a tricam. We used a single 50 meter rope, that brought us back to the beginning of the "Terrible Traverse".

 

Unfortunately, our trip up North had taken more time than we had expected. The snow on the south slope was frozen hard by the time that we got back to our skis. We had to ski off the west side, which was still soft, and then ski back over the Col to get back onto the Hayden Glacier. This all occurred during a big change in the weather, with high winds. We skied back to our camp in the moon light and made the unpleasant discovery that our tent which we thought was secure, had been blown away. Our goal of skiing South Sister on the following day was replaced by concerns of getting through the cold, windy night without our tent and sleeping bags. Luck was back on our side shortly however. After clumsily skiing for perhaps a quarter mile, we found the tent wrapped in a tree. We slept soundly for the remaining part of the night and exited in light rain.

 

We plan to try this again when the conditions are right. In a good snow year, the northwest ridge appears to be an easy way to ascend South Sister from that direction and would hopefully have good snow for a ski descent also.

 

I will attempt to post photos.

 

http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/showphoto.php?photo=37601&cat=512[/img]

 

http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/showphoto.php?photo=37602&cat=512[/img]

 

http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/showphoto.php?photo=37603&cat=512[/img]

 

Gear Notes:

Telemark skis, 50 meter rope, two pickets, one ice screw, a few nuts, a three small cams, three small tricams (one left on smmit of North).

Edited by S_Carter

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thanks for the TR. And your assumption about the NW ridge is correct.

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Good work, sounds like you made some good decisions along the way too. A night without the bag is a drag.

 

Were conditions pretty calm up on the summit?

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