On the summit of the Middle Sister!

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A wonderful Oregon adventure


An eager and large group of students  set off to climb this 10,045 foot mountain the day after graduation.  The trail was in good shape for the first mile and a half, after which we ran into occasional snow patches (gone two days later) before reaching the river crossing.  We passed two large groups coming out, probably Mazamas, who had turned back on the north face of the peak.  They told us about bad ice conditions.  We noted they had no crampons which would indeed have made the ice an unpleasant host.  The second group had crampons and still reported turning back, so we became a bit concerned.  When the third group told us they had also turned back we began to think of options.  One of the party suggested the southeast ridge as likely being ice free, so that became our chosen route.

The hike in to camp took maybe 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete.  We camped at the first place where the slope begins to level off and the trees thin out, this may have been at 7000 feet or so.  We were able to find a bit of soil to camp on after being in the snow for 2 hours.  (The trail became mostly snow covered half a mile after the river crossing).  That afternoon we did a short snow school before making a dinner and going to bed.

We decided to go for a late start the next day to let the snow soften up a bit, and that worked out really well.  We left camp at 8:45.    We traversed SW up steep slopes and onto the Hayden Glacier where we roped up into four ropes.  We saw one or two crevasses on the crossing and then climbed steeply onto the southeast ride.  The ridge is in beautiful position and the climbing was fun.  The snow was soft and somewhat new, but Cooper kicked step all the way to the top.  We arrived at 1:05 pm- making fairly good time.  Though it was not breezy below, we had some wind at the top which made it quite chilly so we did not linger long.  We descended with some care and enjoyed glissading on steep portions once we were off of the ridge.  The walk back was enjoyable and the kids talked and laughed.  We were back to camp at 3:45 pm, a seven hour round trip. 

Everyone got together for a large debrief at the upper camp and then we were in bed before 9:00 pm.  Next day we hiked out and were to the cars by 10:00 or so.  We enjoyed a not-so-quick lunch in Mill City before arriving in Portland at 3:00 pm.