Climb of the Middle Sister

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Climb of the Middle Sister

May 27-29, 2006


When we arrived at Sisters Oregon, the anticipation for the trip was high. All of us were excited by the excellent weather, and we stopped to get gas and a few supplies. The road into the trailhead was about 30 minutes of gravel kicking, bus breaking travel. At the trailhead, we hopped out and separated all of the group gear into big piles, repacked our packs, and prepared to head out. Our packs were heavy, and the hike ahead looked a little daunting. It took us all of 40ft to get lost, since we went the wrong way and failed to see where to go. The hike was difficult, but everyone was able to keep up. Frequent rests, and lots of power bars kept the line moving. About halfway through, it began to snow, and as we neared out destination, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped.

We found a suitable camp site that was sheltered in some trees, and began to set up tents and a kitchen. The weather that night was questionable, and we were contemplating whether or not to climb the next day. Ben Dair and others helped to build a fire which became the centerpiece of “The Village.” As the light faded, we became anxious for another member of our team who was supposed to join us that day. Search teams went out, and we successfully located Matt Hickey, who had turned off his radio – which we had left at the trailhead for his use.

Peter woke us up at 6:30 on Sunday to begin our ascent to the summit. The weather hadn’t improved much, but after swallowing some pop tarts, we set out on the trail with our much lighter summit packs. 30 min after we started, a suitable slope for snow school was found. It involved basic climbing techniques, ice axe handling, and self arrests. With the weather still doubtful, we paused and bundled up, then decided to attempt the climb. We climbed for many hours through fresh snow and with a steady 20 mph wind in our faces.

Within a thousand feet of the top, we were forced to turn back due to horrendous conditions and an avalanche slope. In the poor weather, we had taken a much more direct path, which proved to be too difficult and dangerous to continue on. After a brief lunch of peanut butter and jelly bagels in the cold wind, we started on our way down. And of course, when we were about halfway through our descent, the weather cleared and the sun came out. Although we did not get to summit the Middle Sister, it was a sight to behold, and we were all impressed with the distance we had gone, especially considering the weather.

We made the hike out to the bus in two hours and drove down to McKenzie Bridge. We were treated to a fantastic hamburger barbecue at the home of Stan and Jent Biles, right on the river. Thank you Stan and Janet!

Next year, we will attempt to climb it again, and hopefully with some more luck, be able to reach the summit