North Sister via Hayden Glacier

Three Sisters Wilderness Area

August 16th-17th, 2008

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First climbed in 1910 by a large Mazama party led by H.H. Prouty the North Sister is the oldest and most rugged of the Three Sisters group. Due to her remarkably unstable rock she's been nicknamed the "Black Beast of the Cascades" or the "Mean Sister". I prefer her gentler nickname of "Faith". We had faith...

Wayne, Mike and I met Mark at the Pole Creek Trailhead for an afternoon start on a hot August Saturday (The high temperature at Redmond Airport Saturday was 106 degrees!). Five and a half dusty miles and two thousand feet later we made camp near the toe of the Hayden Glacier, which is actually on the Middle Sister but allows an easy snow climb to the col between the North and Middle Sisters. We met a group of climbers from the Salem Chemeketans camped just below us who were planning on ascending the more direct southeast ridge.

We left camp at 0315 hoping to beat the other climbers to the twin bottlenecks of the "Dinner Plate" and "Bowling Alley" but they had the same plan and we arrived minutes behind them. Their new leader placed the first rope across the Dinner Plate traverse a little high which made for a more difficult exit off the snow. After their members crossed they pulled their rope so Wayne could lead a rope across on a better line that we could all use to exit the Dinner Plate. Having so many climbers slowed the pace down considerably and we spent a couple hours hanging out, enjoying the view and chatting with our fellow climbers. To expedite our exit we collaborated with the Chemeketans and rigged a double rope rappel down the Bowling Alley, which cut off considerable time compared to downclimbing.

Thunderstorms rumbled nearby but except for a few drops of rain we had excellent weather with shirtsleeve conditions on the 10,085' summit. After exiting the technical portions of the upper mountain the descent was uneventful (but long and tiring). We arrived back at Pole Creek around 2015 and were back in Eugene just after 2300. Another marathon day...

It was another excellent climb with expert leadership by Wayne and I'm looking forward to our next adventure. 

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Actual GPS Track on Topo map


Track from Google Earth


.GPX File


Mark and Mike trekking up the trail from Pole Creek

Saturday night's camp was at 7,200' near the Hayden glacier
Photo: mb
Wayne "relaxes" at the end of a hot and dusty trail.

This is the old style delineation.
Filtering water at the nearby stream
Photo: mb
Mike and I "tarped it" With thunder booming the sunset was dramatic


You can sure tell which way the wind blows up here!

0330 Sunday... Why are we doing this? Hazy sunrise . Broken Top in background

Onto the Collier Glacier with a view to the northwest Middle Sister with a smoke plume from a recent lightning strike Catching up to the Chemeketans
Photo: mb
The "sketchy" unroped traverse prior to the "Dinner Plate"
Photo: mb
The Chemeketan leader placing the first rope across the "Dinner Plate"
Photo: mb
Wayne  leading our rope across

Chemeketans descending off the summit. The rock here is actually quite nice to climb on. I had some "quiet time" on the summit while Mike and  Mark climbed the Bowling Alley.
Photo: mb
Mike's summit shot


A motley crew
Photo: mb
Wayne and Mike on the South Horn with the summit in background View down the South Ridge. Note the rappel anchor
(not the way we came down)

Mike preparing to rap down the "Bowling Alley"

Back down the South Ridge. Prouty Point and Middle Sister in background

This is one colorful mountain. Note the storm clouds



Last view of the Hayden Glacier - Our route up this morning

Glacial tarn Tarns are lakes formed by glacial moraines

Motionbased GPS analysis     "Mike tops out" video        
(Video is in .avi format. Right click... save as... open with compatible media player)


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