South Sister night/day climb, 7/6 - 7/7 2012

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potato
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South Sister night/day climb, 7/6 - 7/7 2012

Post by potato » July 9th, 2012, 7:54 pm

At around 6:30 on Friday evening I met up with Bosterson, pdxflowergirl (Kam), and her friend Greg. We headed out in Greg's station wagon toward South Sister. Our plan was to start up the mountain that night and summit at sunrise. It was a nice drive out there, with a colorful sunset and mountain views. A little before 10:30 we arrived at the Devil's Lake trailhead, organized our bags in a somewhat leisurely manner, and hit the trail at about 11. The first part of the trail ascends through a forested hill; the trail/boot path was hard to keep track of with just our headlights, but Kam had some GPS waypoints of the route that kept us headed in the right direction (also we knew we basically needed to head due north).

It was simply a gorgeous night for climbing. It couldn't have been much colder than 50 degrees, with a warm and gentle breeze blowing, clear skies, and moon-illuminated landscapes.
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At the end of the initial hill is a long plateau, where I took the above picture. Bosterson, Greg, and I stashed our snowshoes at the start of this plateau when it seemed evident that we would not need them. After crossing the plateau Flowergirl got pretty tired and elected to stop for a nap… and Greg was feeling kind of sick too. We weren't sure if it was a good idea to be splitting up, but we made a plan to get in touch every hour via text message and decided that it would be OK. So Kam set up her bivy and took a nearly 3-hour nap. She woke up later feeling a lot better.

Meanwhile, Greg and Bosterson and I continued up the mountain. We didn't quite make it to the summit for sunrise -- at 5AM when it was getting light we were only up to Lewis Tarn. Still, we got some pretty views of the sunrise.
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Bosterson with Bachelor and the moon. This is atop a 30 foot (or so) hill just a little bit below Lewis Tarn.
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Some views of the sunrise.
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I got a text from Kam that she had woken up and started up the hill. (photo by pdxflowergirl)
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A few minutes later we looked down and we think we spotted her.
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Lewis Tarn from that little hill just east of it. We went up that hill hoping for a clearer view of the sunrise.
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This large orbiting piece of rock lit the mountain so brightly that we didn't need headlamps when we were in the open. Thanks, moon!
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I think this is the route we took up (correct me if I'm wrong Bosterson?)
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Greg checking something on his phone
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Broken Top
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Bachelor, and part of the south slope of South Sister
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Kam's take on the Bachelor sunrise (photo by pdxflowergirl)
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Rocks in the sun
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OK, so here is the ridge going up to the top of the mountain. By far the most tedious and exhausting part. It's that kind of loose stuff where you're likely to slide backwards with each step. Miserable! At this point the 3 of us started going up at our own pace -- Bosterson in front of me as you can see, and Greg behind.
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A real treat to be out on such a nice day. No one on the mountain above us.
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Mountain shadow
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Bosterson got to the top at around 7:00…
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and I got up there maybe 20 or 25 minutes later.
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From this summit you start to realize that the Cascades are indeed a "range", and not just a sprinkling of lone mountains. We could see Hood too but it was pretty hazy.
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Teardrop pool should have been in there, but I guess it was still frozen.
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It wasn't overly windy or cold, so it was easy to hang out up there for a while. In fact, Bosterson and I took naps up there, just lying on the ground… I'm not sure how much sleep he got but I dozed off for about 20 minutes. Here he has a rock between his legs and another one beneath his head. Apparently he thought that would be a comfortable position.
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At about 8:00 we started to head back down, but just when we got to the rim of the crater on the top, we saw that Greg was almost up! We hadn't been sure if he would make it. We turned around and went back to the summit with him for maybe another hour. I think only 2 other people came to the top that whole time. Here's Greg.
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The benchmark near the top.
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Broken Top is really pretty.
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So, eventually we started down. That dusty gravelly ridge isn't much fun going down either, but it sure beats the hell out of going up in my opinion. When we were most of the way down to Lewis Tarn we ran into Kam heading the other direction! We chatted for a while and had some snacks; the boys continued down and she went uphill.
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Lots of skiers were headed uphill from here with their skis. Not sure where they used them on the way down. There was a cool crevasse here (photo by pdxflowergirl)
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Can anyone identify these peaks to the south?
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Summit panorama (photo by pdxflowergirl)
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We can pretend that these hikers are the 3 guys… (photo by pdxflowergirl)
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View to the East from the summit (photo by pdxflowergirl)
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Lewis Tarn, from the southwest? this time. (photo by pdxflowergirl)
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Kam's video from the summit!


So we had a bit of a confusing incident on the way down… Greg and I got separated from Bosterson coming down from this treed bluff thing, and both parties were confused about where the other had gone. Turns out Bosterson guessed that we had continued on without him, and he ran across the whole plateau, complete with slushy snow and burning sun. Greg and I talked to a nearby dude, who recalled seeing someone who fit Bosterson's description heading south. We went that direction too and met up with him near the snowshoe cache. At this point it was nearly 2:00 (where did all those hours go? we wondered) and we were all feeling exhausted!

After meeting up, we rested in the shade for a bit, and one of the funniest things of the day happened. This sweaty, panting guy runs up to a nearby shady spot, apparently talking to himself or something, wearing nothing but shoes, short shorts, a fanny pack, and trekking poles. He stood there for a second and then he was off again! Crazy dude!
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Back at the trailhead, Greg and Bosterson and I slept for a while until Kam made it back down, generously providing sustenance to dozens of hungry mosquitos. I think it was about 5:00 when we finally drove away, completely exhausted, toward Cascade Lakes brewery for some food and beer. All in all a gorgeous night, pretty scenery, a solid workout, and a good exercise in sleep deprivation. The drive home was pretty interesting. Thanks for inviting me guys! I hope they will fill in with anything I missed.

Lost items: Kam's handkerchief, my hammock, my headphones. If anyone finds a hammock in a stuff sack at the Devil's Lake trailhead, would you let me know?? Thanks!

Found items: Kam's handkerchief (someone pinned it between 2 rocks on the trail), a seemingly decent pair of gaiters (I found them just out in the open, anyone lose a pair up there?)
self observing universe (main blog)
Joe hikes (PCT blog)
Laws of Nature (bandcamp)

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AlexanderSupertramp
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Re: South Sister night/day climb, 7/6 - 7/7 2012

Post by AlexanderSupertramp » July 9th, 2012, 8:07 pm

Awesome report man....You are just killing it this year :-) Congrats to all of you!

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Crusak
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Re: South Sister night/day climb, 7/6 - 7/7 2012

Post by Crusak » July 9th, 2012, 9:05 pm

Awesome concept for a South Sister summit! Nice work you guys! And awesome pics too. What a view. Any estimate of what the temps were up at the top? You all looked fairly bundled up.

lol @ the lost and found list. On a trip that tough it's not surprising that a few things get strewn along your path.

South Sister... one of those hikes I must do someday.

Thanks for sharing.
Jim's Hikes

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Bones
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Re: South Sister night/day climb, 7/6 - 7/7 2012

Post by Bones » July 9th, 2012, 9:34 pm

The closest peak to the right is Diamond Peak. The next I am not 100%.. Mt mcloughlin or Shasta? Then Thielson.
Trip Reports - 1 year behind
2011 Mountains Climbed: Kings, Mount St. Helens x2 & South Sister
2012 Mountains Climbed: Larch, Mount St. Helens
2012 Climbing Agenda: Defiance, Diamond Peak, South or Middle Sister, Mt. Adams (x2?)

Minahikes
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Re: South Sister night/day climb, 7/6 - 7/7 2012

Post by Minahikes » July 9th, 2012, 9:53 pm

[quote="theradpotato"]
After meeting up, we rested in the shade for a bit, and one of the funniest things of the day happened. This sweaty, panting guy runs up to a nearby shady spot, apparently talking to himself or something, wearing nothing but shoes, short shorts, a fanny pack, and trekking poles. He stood there for a second and then he was off again! Crazy dude!
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We saw that man in his blue skivvies too! I actually offered him some sunscreen but he didn't need it. I kept wondering how me dealt with all the mosquitos since he was exposing quite a bit of surface area for them to snack on.

I had a hard time with the thinner air up there so my buddies had to cheer me on. For me, the day was hot and blindingly bright, but I still had a great time.

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Bosterson
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Re: South Sister night/day climb, 7/6 - 7/7 2012

Post by Bosterson » July 9th, 2012, 10:41 pm

theradpotato wrote:Here he has a rock between his legs and another one beneath his head. Apparently he thought that would be a comfortable position.
I think what happened was that I started with my feet on top of the rock, and that didn't quite work, but I was already "comfortable" lying down. Funny thing, climbing mountains without sleep... Still, it was a blast even with all the ridiculousness!

Thanks again to Joe for sacrificing his health in order to drive us home by drinking that fake Red Bull/crack stuff from the gas station!
theradpotato wrote: A few minutes later we looked down and we think we spotted her.
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I am actually pretty sure this is the first official proof of the existence of the Yeti in central Oregon...
Will hike off trail for fun.

NitroPsycho
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Re: South Sister night/day climb, 7/6 - 7/7 2012

Post by NitroPsycho » July 10th, 2012, 1:24 am

Awesome pictures man! I am planning to circumnavigate the Sisters the end of next week and would love to do something similar!


Question, did you need Ice Axes, Crampons and climbing gear? Or is it just a steep ascent w/ LTI terrain?


Thanks!

Simon

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retired jerry
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Re: South Sister night/day climb, 7/6 - 7/7 2012

Post by retired jerry » July 10th, 2012, 5:33 am

Nice trip, report, and pictures

Did you need snowshoes from Devil's Lake up to the plateau?

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Bones
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Re: South Sister night/day climb, 7/6 - 7/7 2012

Post by Bones » July 10th, 2012, 6:15 am

NitroPsycho wrote:Awesome pictures man! I am planning to circumnavigate the Sisters the end of next week and would love to do something similar!


Question, did you need Ice Axes, Crampons and climbing gear? Or is it just a steep ascent w/ LTI terrain?


Thanks!

Simon
If you climb on the designated trail you can just 'walk' up. If you approach from any other ridge then probably would be a good idea with the amount of snow.
Trip Reports - 1 year behind
2011 Mountains Climbed: Kings, Mount St. Helens x2 & South Sister
2012 Mountains Climbed: Larch, Mount St. Helens
2012 Climbing Agenda: Defiance, Diamond Peak, South or Middle Sister, Mt. Adams (x2?)

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Bosterson
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Re: South Sister night/day climb, 7/6 - 7/7 2012

Post by Bosterson » July 10th, 2012, 7:09 am

You probably can do it without any gear at this point. We put on crampons above the Moraine Lake plateau - they weren't really necessary, but they made it easier to kick into the (slightly) harder snow. I only used my ice axe as a brake for glissading and the snowshoes were totally worthless. The snow in the canyon from Devil's Lake to the plateau is consolidated and melting fast.
Will hike off trail for fun.

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