Ascent of South Sister on 2017-08-22

Climber: Hal Watrous

Date:Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:South Sister
    Elevation:10358 ft / 3157 m

Ascent Trip Report

A trip made day after the Solar Eclipse of 2018, where north central Oregon was the center of a band or "track" going east west across the US. . . considered prime viewing in Madras, OR., on the East side of the Oregon Cascades. I'll mention it here as it was quite interesting and historical. Madras and surrounding areas were inundated with viewers as were other areas as well. I heard reports of climbers aiming to summit Mt. Jefferson, in the Eclipses Track, the day before so they get up and watch the eclipse from there.

No solar elipse had reportedly captured more attention and attendance before. It attracted thousands of viewers many driving in from California, clogging many major highways. For instance, a friend who drove down from Seattle to view it on the West side of the Cascades in Corvallis, OR found hugh unprecedented backups on I-5 heading home that night.

Coupled with this, there were roughly 16 separate forest fires the US Forest Service grouped into fire "complexes" for emergency firefighting purposes. The greatest was in the Sisters, OR area where surprisingly there were fewer viewers and annual tourists there than expected. It was also smoky as it lies closer to the fires and mountains, and timber/fuel sources. This greatly affected where one could get a clear view of the Eclipse. Waking up on the morning of the 22nd in Sisters, we took 2 cars and went eastward looking for a good spot. We ended up near Smith Rocks State Park, where roads were clogged but manageable, and landowners were charging parking fees of around $20 to view from their sites. A spot along a side road gave us great views.

As for Mt. Sisters, the access roads around the area were open when we were there, although the PCT was closed.
We hiked up the South route parking at Devils Lake TH. Signage was poor, so watching your maps is advisable, unless tracking with GPS. We drycamped at a beautiful spot on the broad expanse before the steep ascent. and summited the volvanic rockpile with no problem the next morning. I hiked around the caldera, which was snow filed, on the trail. The air was smoky, but close in scenery was not affected. Views further away were. Otherwise, a great day and trip.
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