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South Sister South Ridge Conditions/Advice

Dylan Colon

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Some friends and I are entertaining the idea of attempting South Sister in the next few weekends, depending on weather.


I'm relatively new to the Cascades, and completely new to something of that scale in the winter, which is why I'm interested in perhaps the gentlest of the big volcanoes to start. I do have some experience climbing steep snow in spring conditions in the Tetons.


I've seen a bunch of Mt. Hood trip reports here, but none for the Sisters, so I thought I'd go fishing to see if anyone's been up there lately.


Finally, I am operating under the assumption that the South Ridge Route is the way to go in the winter. Is this probably the safest option? I will cop right away to my inexperience judging avalanche terrain, and I am wondering if anyone can offer a rough assessment of how dangerous this route is during a moderate forecast, with the obvious caveat that conditions can vary considerably. I'm not sure of the angle on the route, because I've never been on South Sister, is it steep enough to avalanche? I'm completely willing to wait till the spring/I get more experience, because the mountain will always be there, and I want to be too, at least for many years.

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It will be a long approach unless you have sleds or hitch a ride. I believe it is 5 miles ish on the road to the trail head at Devils Lake from Mt. Bachelor. But this could be easy if you are a distance type of person.


I personally think that it is steep enough to slide on the route you are speaking of. However, I have never seen it slide or evidence of a slide. That doesn't mean it doesn't slide.


As far as danger...it is pretty remote this time of year since very few people go out there in the winter.


Spring is an awesome time to go. The road opens up and you can drive right to the trailhead. If you go early enough in the spring you can skin up from the car to the summit.


I don't know you and don't want to step on your goals. But if you are asking for a strangers opinion I would say wait till the Spring.

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Its a long hike in but maybe you could hire someone with a snowmobile to take you to the foot of the mountain so you aren't expending your energy trudging through deep snow just to get there. Someone once posted another trip report about SS in winter and stated that they were so burned out from the hike in that they had nothing left for the climb. Call the ranger for snow conditions, but know that their assessment might be completely different from the conditions you encounter. Good luck!

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If you're good with navigation, and if the avy hazards are looking considerable-high, then you may also consider Diamond Peak. It too is very remote (a 10 mile approach in winter from Hwy 58 / Willamette Pass) but it does offer a good ridge to climb from that northern aspect and is the same or less in total mileage I'd imagine. I too bid you good luck.

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