Skiing at South Sister

The three sisters — South, Middle and North — are a cluster of volcanoes that fill the skyline west of Bend. All three are above 10,000′, and at 10,358′ south sister is the highest, and the third highest peak in Oregon (behind Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson). I’d been interested in climbing at the sisters since seeing them last summer, and had a good opportunity and went up South Sister last weekend. View of the mountains at the end of the trip, with South Sister on the left, the other sisters in the middle, and Broken Top, a heavily eroded neighboring volcano at 9,175′, on the right:

South Sister is the easiest peak to climb, and the most acccessible, but at this time of the year it’s still tricky. The Cascade Lakes byway passes about five miles to the south of the peak, but it will be closed for a while yet, and I did the trip in 1.5 days, starting at Dutchman Flat at the base of Mount Bachelor, heading cross country to the base of South Sister, and returning via the road the following afternoon. This was nice but a lot of work, and maybe it would be better to just be patient and wait for the road to open. A nice thing about going early is the mountain was pristine; the whole time on it I only saw shadows of a few tracks.

The climbing is steady and non-technical, no glaciers or steep areas to be concerned about on approach from the south. Looking up towards the peak from maybe 8000′, and back down and out at Mount Bachelor:

I made it up to the summit plateau ok, and part way around the side, but stopped a bit below the true summit — I was concerned about picking through all the rime on the summit, but mostly it was getting late and I wanted to get down before the snow softened too much. Looking up at the proper summit (another time):

Excellent skiing the way down, after some rime in the first 100′ there was corn snow down to about 7000′ before going to slush.

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