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bedellympian

[TR] South Sister - Prouty Glacier 9/2/2013

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Trip: South Sister - Prouty Glacier

 

Date: 9/2/2013

 

Trip Report:

My friend Kolby (trail name Condor) is heavily involved in the PCT thru-hiking community and regularly lets thru hikers stay at his house in Bend. At 11:20 on Monday morning I got the following text from him: "A thru hiker staying with us attempted to go down the north side of South Sister yesterday w/o any climbing gear. He found himself in a position where, if he lost his grip, he would fall. He saved himself by removing his backpack, which fell down the mountain. He was able to get off the mountain safely but lost all his gear and hitched back to bend with only what he was wearing (which didn't include a shirt). I'm asking if anyone has an ice ax he can borrow today to go look for his backpack on the northeastern side of South Sister."

 

It turns out he had seen the moderate looking north ridge of South Sister on his topo map and attempted to descend it toward Middle Sister. He got off route in steep terrain and dropped his pack thinking it would land on a ledge 20 feet down and he could retrieve it. Instead the pack bounced down over a 1,000 vertical feet of choss cliffs towards the Prouty Glacier and he was unable to see where it had come to rest. After trying unsuccessfully to down climb further he climbed back over South Sister, hiked out in the dark and got a ride with other late hikers back to Bend. If I'm being honest I have to admit that I could see myself getting in a similar situation.

 

I decided to help the poor guy out; drove him out there, hiked in. We took one look at the face and thought that it was more likely we would discover a woolly mammoth entombed in ice than the pack. None the less we worked our way up to the glacier. He had minimal running shoes and no gear so I left him on some scree and headed up the ice. It was already 5:30 at this point and I figured I would turn around at 6 so we had a chance of finding the trail in daylight. Just as I reached the top of the glacier where it meets the cliff I looked up and saw a blue and yellow blob a mere hundred feet to my left, it was 6:01. I brought the pack down to him and it was miraculously intact minus a couple broken plastic buckles. The plastic food bag inside had been pulverized and shredded but the ripstop just looked like it had been rubbed in some dust and the tent poles strapped to the outside were fine too. We hiked/jogged out by headlamp and made it back to Bend in time for a late night happy hour :chebit::brew: ...definitely the most random mountain adventure I've had but a lot of fun.

 

Blog post with a couple pics and more details: Mountain Mischief

 

Gear Notes:

cranial choss deflector (aka helmet), ice axe and pons

 

Approach Notes:

Green Lakes Trail, traverse north of Carver Lake to west side of Prouty

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Thats crazy, but cool you could help out someone in need like that and get a little mountain time in as well.

 

Good on you! :brew:

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Thats awesome! My wife (Bucket) and I (Water) do trail magic for PCT'ers one weekend each summer as we got indoctrinated to the thru-hiking community/cult :laf: while thru'ing on the AT a number of years ago.

 

And while I'll sound like an 'I told you so' -- its just an observation, but for better and worse thru hikers of all trails (PCT/CDT/AT/PNWT/etc..) walk an interesting line of hubris and ability. Largely it is of ability, there is no question about that, but i've personally witnessed the confidence of that experience pushing into situations that are well beyond what is encountered hiking. That they've gone for months and thousands of miles through huge ranges of mountains, snowy passes/rain/storms/heat/scrambles/etc, wild conditions, trials and tribulations, they're definitely forged of a can-do/get-by/make-it-happen/seriously self-reliant cloth, but i've witnessed that hiking experience get applied to situations a far bit on the outside of hiking, most of the time without consequence but not always--and then it seems the viewpoint is like 'getting lost' and not having over-stepped one's knowledge and ability. For me i've always demarcated pretty clearly between my climbing ventures and my hiking/backpacking ventures with the wife and family so I guess it stands out to me.

 

BUT please not let this detract from the TR/topic. It is my belief while thru-hiking all hikers are filling a karmic piggy-bank through their miles each day and suffering. When the shit hits the fan in one way or another the universe seems to totally provide, like you coming out and finding his pack in good shape. Or some friend-of-a-friend of a hiker we were with, whos wife and daughter were nurses at a hospital, in central pennsylavania coming to the rescue at 8am at a state camp ground with a dose of cipro for my wife when she clearly had a simply UTI and we had no health insurance. or the people who stop to ask if you're hikers and if you could use a place to stay when you've gotten rained on 5 days in a row. the stories are endless, and not just from us, but i swear the trails will provide, if you hike them.

 

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Hey Water, I definitely agree with you. Thru hikers seem to get a lot of good luck... and blur the limits between climbing and hiking when they get adventurous. I can definitely sympathize with their adventures having come from a hiking background. I have done plenty of fourth class in running shoes and walked that line of ability and stupidity. When I found out about this guy and his mis-adventure I was torn between thinking how awesome it was that he had just gone for it without beta or gear (a can-do attitude that a lot of crag-centric climbers could benefit from in the mountains) and thinking that he was foolish/stupid.

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I met that thru-hiker at Trail Days in Cascade Locks a few weeks ago and heard the amazing story. I believe his trail name is Wildfire. Good on you for helping the guy out.

 

He said he was planning a triple traverse of the summits. I wonder how the North Sister summit would have gone?

Edited by pauls

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He said he was planning a triple traverse of the summits. I wonder how the North Sister summit would have gone?

 

I did the walkup of the South Sister recently. The North Sis looks pretty burly from that vantage. The full traverse has to be quite daunting for someone who is more of a hiker than a climber.

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