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Ascent of South Sister on 2018-06-21

Climber: Bradley R

Date:Thursday, June 21, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:South Sister
    Location:USA-Oregon
    Elevation:10358 ft / 3157 m

Ascent Trip Report

How I chose this peak: As an ultra prominent peak, it was near the top of my list. Still I'd flown into Seattle with the intention of climbing glacier peak. The weather didn't work out and I went South to Mount Hood where I made a pitiful attempt on Wednesday morning, I didn't feel well and turned around early. The weather forecast went downhill there as well, preventing me from making another attempt and I went further south to South Sister.

Directions/Parking: Place Devils Lake/South Sister Trailhead, Oregon into Google Maps, this took me directly to parking.

The hike: I arrived at the trailhead and started packing my day pack. There were a couple of guys at the trailhead I spoke with. I noticed they were carrying their ice ax, I had not planned to carry one so I questioned them about how necessary they thought it would be. They said that I should be fine with poles, so I left my ax (it would have only been extra weight).

For the first 2.25 miles I gain roughly 1,300 feet. During this time there are a few switchbacks as I wonder through large evergreen trees. The hike is pleasant and I don't recall seeing anyone in this area.

The next 1.25 miles stays flat gaining only 2-3 hundred feet. At this point the terrain begins to open up giving views of Mount Bachelor and another snow covered peak to the south, along with a nice view of South Sister's summit. Here you also pass by Moraine Lake. The views are a nice motivation and I'm feeling good.

Soon you begin to gain elevation more quickly. After another 1.1 miles of hiking and and 1,700' of gain you reach the ridge just above teardrop pool. On the way I crossed a couple of snow fields and watched a couple of people down climbing glissade for a short distance. I spoke to a guy from Maine, now living in Oregon who had through hiked the Appalachian Trail, a desire of mine. From the point you could see most of the rest of the hike. And many people could be seen on the ridge well above me.

The next 0.7 miles proved to be the most difficult. I followed the red ridge toward the top crater, it only got steeper as I went. The elevation gain through this section was about 1,300 feet. I met more people on this section than anywhere else. Many were headed down after a successful day. Others were catching their breath as they worked their way to the top. A few climbers chose to leave the red ridge near the very top and walk through some snow, but most, including myself, stayed out of the ice, and in the red dirt until we crested.

Another, easy 0.3 or 0.4 miles and I was sitting on the high point. Blue ponds way below. Middle and North Sister, along with Mount Jefferson easily visible to the north, Bachelor to the South. I had passed a mother daughter tandem in this section, they soon joined me at the top. There had been fresh snow at the peak the night before, so the area was beautiful and fresh with the exception of a few boot tracks. While approaching I was sure the point I was at was the high point, but sitting there I thought another point may be so I walked another couple hundred yards to that point. Upon arrival the original point was clearly the highest. In addition to the peaks I had already IDed a couple of other hikers were able to point out two more distant peaks, barely visible. One they were confident was Mount Hood, they said the other may be either Mount Adams or Rainier.

From here I planned to return via the same route. However during one of the snow fields I continued to follow footsteps. I eventually came to a rock structure I had seen on the way up, but never been close to. I checked my GPS and found I was well off route. Instead of backtracking I continued while looking for an opportunity to cut back toward the trail. There was a tall ridge between me and where I thought the trail would be, so I looked for a low point in the ridge. I eventually found something that looked to be promising, but in the end I was fooled. I climbed the steep ridge and was awarded with some nice views. Finally I dropped back down and found the trail and continued out. Beautiful place.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5101 ft / 1553 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5101 ft / 1554 m
    Round-Trip Distance:12.3 mi / 19.8 km
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4911 ft / 1496 m
    Distance:5.7 mi / 9.1 km
    Route:S Sister Climber Trail
    Start Trailhead:Devil Lake Trail Head  5447 ft / 1660 m
    Time:4 Hours 42 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5101 ft / 1554 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 4911 ft / 1497 m; Extra: 190 ft / 57m
    Gain on way out:190 ft / 57 m
    Distance:6.6 mi / 10.7 km
    Route:S Sister Climber Trail
    End Trailhead:Devil Lake Trail Head  5447 ft / 1660 m
    Time:4 Hours 5 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Bradley R
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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