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[TR] North Sister - South Ridge 5/3/2014

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Trip: North Sister - South Ridge


Date: 5/3/2014


Trip Report:

Mainly posting this to provide conditions although the Sisters are getting stormed on right now so I imagine stuff could change a bit this week.


Travis and I climbed North Sister via the South Ridge on Saturday. We brought skis and had to carry them just over 1.5 miles before we could skin. We followed a creek up to the glacial moraine between the SE and E ridges, then climbed snow to the south ridge. This was very sun affected snow, wet and soft with a harder crust in places. The ridge was mostly snow with some exposed rock. The summit pinnacle had really ideal rime ice for climbing, compact and hard but still dagger-able.


Winds were very high in the creek bed approaching the ridge and on the ridge top itself. Clouds from the west fought to roll over the ridge all day and eventually succeeded, although we had sun on the summit. Temps varied greatly, when the sun was out and we were sheltered behind gendarmes from the wind it was really hot and summery, when the wind was on us with cloud cover it felt like a bad winter storm. This seemed to change every 10-20 minutes and hit such extremes that I would be sweating in just my R1 with the hood down and have my beard stiff with ice in the same ten minute period.


One question for the community: Is there a somewhat direct route straight up the east buttress/ridge? Oregon High does not list one but it doesn't list the black spider on Hood either.


Pole Creek TH:



SE face/E ridge



climbing up to S ridge



gendarmes on S ridge



terrible traverse, so called



top of the bowling alley



Travis approaching summit (lower left)



summit in background



this orientation is as precisely correct as I could get it: vertical rime/snow!



for more pictures, info, and witty prose you can check out my blog post on the trip... Mountain Mischief


Gear Notes:

We felt comfy simul soloing everything up and down, but if you wanted pro the rime on the summit pinnacle is really excellent for picket placements right now.


Approach Notes:

Pole Creek TH is dirt dry, skis/skins usable just past junction w/ Green Lakes Trail (flotation definitely necessary: mashed potato post-holing)

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very nice, glad that you were able to thread the needle with a micro window of weather--thats pretty neat. Always enjoy days like that. I've always done this when it's mostly melted, the potential of finding bunk rime or verglas in the bowling alley has never been high on my list.. but seeing this in winter--I can tell in some respects it standardizes the mountain--holds it together a bit better--as you know in late summer n. sister is probably best candidate of mountain located in mordor.. baked, parched, red, crumbling, and all sorts of weird phallic lava-tube gendarmes, esp. on the west face of the s. ridge.


So.. to answer your question, I have one of my own as well.. I was a little unclear about your access. In summer from Soap Creek there is a turn-off/climbers trail that takes you up along Soap and basically allows you to go up the gentle apron of the SE ridge. Maybe that is what you are calling the E ridge? Maybe just in my circles/sources but have not really heard N. Sister get called as having an east ridge. Unless you mean just going up thayer glacier headwall? [EDIT I see you mean the Glisan Pinnacle]


[Other way I've done it is stay on trail over Soap and continue on chambers lake trail and veer straight west off it around 6600ft into the treeline and moraines area--a very nice place for camp for a climb of North and/or Middle. From there gain SE ridge by going straight north, again better to get onto the apron of the ridge than trying to go up it further west on either the north of west side of it.]


edit: http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/140145/North_Sister_Direct_E_Butt

Edited by Water

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One question for the community: Is there a somewhat direct route straight up the east buttress/ridge? Oregon High does not list one but it doesn't list the black spider on Hood either.


There is a route up the East Buttress, but there are more than likely variations between that and the headwall. The lower buttress is probably more of your question though. I would guess some have ventured up then bailed left or right up high.



That said great photos. Years ago I did SE RIdge and the skied down and ran up Middle Sister. Good fun and great to see folks on other volcanos.

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Thanks for the compliments gents. And thanks for the thoughts on the E Butt and the link to that sweet TR. Looks like there is room for many variations of varying difficulty. I will have to give 'em a go when the next cold snap happens.

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As alluded to in an earlier reply, there is a direct route up the buttress, and (big surprise) it's generally referred to as the Direct East Buttress. I've done it a couple different ways, but you can either start from the left or right of the lowest mini-buttress. When it's in, left is WI3+ maybe, and the right is similar but thinner. Mixed, snow, thin ice and a few little rock steps take you to the top of the buttress where you can make a short rap or downclimb to attack the upper portion as described in Oregon High. Picture is from Feb '13.



Edited by cjw250

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Quick question - I was thinking of taking my son backpacking this weekend starting at the Pole Creek Trailhead and turning onto the climber's trail up Soap Creek, camping near the base of North Sister. Does anybody know if this area was burned in the 2012 fire or if I can get out of the burned area this way? I can't find any info on it anywhere else. Really appreciate your help!!!

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