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 Post subject: South Sister Southside, Mt. Bailey North Face
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:18 pm 
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After a few weeks of unstable weather, I was starting to go stir crazy sitting at the office. With a decent weather window finally in the forecast, it was definitely time to take a few days off work and regain my sanity. Initial thoughts were to go to Jefferson, but not having been on the South Sister in three years, it was time for another visit.

I left work early on Wednesday afternoon and drove over to the Devils Lake trailhead where I met Todd. After loading packs, we skinned up to timberline in a little over an hour and the mountain looked to be in prime conditions...

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We skinned over to a favorite place with a commanding view of the mountain and set up camp for the evening. After a dinner of Mountain House mac "n" cheese, I headed out to shoot a few photos in the nice evening light....

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Back at camp after the photo shoot, we had a drink and waited for night to fall. Being so near the summer solstice, it didn't get dark until about 10:00 pm. Finally, night took over and I set up the tripod to record a few images from my camp. Here's a shot of my tent with the mountain in the background....

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The next morning we awoke to perfect conditions and got a leisurely start around 6:45 - one of the benefits of camping on the hill is you don't have to get up at the butt crack of dawn to get going. Here's a shot of Todd skinning towards the mountain....

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Climbing conditions were really nice, and we skinned up to the gap, which spit us out on the Lewis Glacier....

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The slog to the summit was the usual mental test. For some reason it seems like the summit on the South Sister never gets any closer no matter how long you climb, then before you know it you're there and you get these views....first shot is looking north to Middle & North Sisters and beyond. Second shot is the Prouty Glacier and Broken Top...

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The views from the South Sister rival those of anywhere in Oregon or the PNW for volcano viewing. Including South Sister, 16 volcanoes are visible from the summit. Those being McLoughlin, Scott, Thielsen, Bailey, Diamond Peak, Bachelor, Broken Top, South Sister, Middle Sister, North Sister, Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Jefferson, Hood, St Helens & Adams.

After waiting around a bit for the snow to corn, we descended skier's right on the Clark Glacier. The turns on this day were some of the best corn I've had on the mountain to date. Here's a few shots of the action. First is Todd w/Broken Top in the background. Second two are me taken by Todd w/his camera....

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The snow was really nice between 9500 and 7000 feet! So much so that we were tempted to go back up for another run. Todd had to get back however, and I had plans to hit Bailey the day following, so we packed up camp and skinned the long flat back to the head of Hell Creek, and made turns all the way back down to the road. Todd headed home while I headed down Highway 97 to meet Ron for a night of camping followed by turns on Bailey the day following.

I met Ron at Diamond Lake Resort and from there we got a good view of our objective - the steep ass north face of Mt. Bailey. I won't lie, looking at the face from the lake is a bit intimidating. Entry is around 50 degrees, followed by a 1700 vertical,40-45 degree consistent pitch.

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Diamond Lake is a beautiful place, and one I hope to return to soon, but if you go pack mosquito repellent! Friday morning came early, and again we didn't get an alpine start but were on the trail by 6:30. Hiking through the trees went quickly, mostly because we couldn't stop without risk of being carried off by the bugs. The views back to Diamond Peak were nice, and it's still holding snow well....

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After an hour and a half of hiking, we got a glimpse of our objective...

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By 10:00 we were on the summit, after several leisurely breaks. The views back to the north were impressive. Diamond, the Sisters, and Jefferson dominated the skyline....

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To the south Mt Scott, McLoughlin & Shasta were plainly visible....here's a photo of Ron doing the Lewis & Clark pose....

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The snow was soft when we dropped into the bowl, which suited me fine not wanting to make sketch turns on the steep slope. In fact, it was so good we ripped the shit out of it. Getting to rip the shit out of a steep slope is something that doesn't happen too often, but when conditions are right and things come together, it makes you feel somewhat like a here. Guess that's why they call it "hero" snow. No riding shots of me, but here's several I shot of Ron.....including one with Diamond Lake and Mt Thielsen in the background......

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The run down the whole face was pretty sick, and looking back on the slope I really wished I had time for another run. In the below picture, our tracks are visible to the right if you look hard....

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We were able to ride an old avy path out, down to within a mile and a half of the road, skinning and walking the remaining way out. The cold beer tasted pretty dang good at the car, and sitting by the lake the only thing missing for me was a boat and fishing pole. Next time! Here's a parting shot from Bailey...

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 Post subject: Re: South Sister Southside, Mt. Bailey North Face
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:03 pm 
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Stunning photos man! Happy to see you're still getting after it. Jealous! Just out of curiosity, what are the overnight lows on the days you're riding this stuff? Is a freeze/thaw at those elevations still necessary for good riding?

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 Post subject: Re: South Sister Southside, Mt. Bailey North Face
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:27 pm 
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Location: Oregon
Hey thanks Nick! To answer your question, overnight lows are still below freezing. Probably about 25 degrees on South Sister.....maybe 30 on Bailey? Generally, this time of year it depends on snowpack as to decision making. Given that it had snowed a foot or more at higher elevations 3 or 4 days before I went on the trip, I was happy to see the freeze thaw going on. Generally though, in mid-late June, with an iso-thermal snowpack, I don't worry too much if it doesn't freeze. Mostly because there's usually much less snow left on the peaks then there is this year.....

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 Post subject: Re: South Sister Southside, Mt. Bailey North Face
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:48 pm 
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Killin It!

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 Post subject: Re: South Sister Southside, Mt. Bailey North Face
PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:56 am 
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Location: Portland, OR
Nice pics! Yesterday I summited S. Sister and rode off the top & down the Clark Glacier, cutting right to a nice cornice/headwall chute. Looked just like your pics, sunny & warm. GREAT corn snow at the top, getting slushy down below the end of the Clark area. Good times!

Always wanted to do that Bailey face. Looks like now is a good time... How'd Avalanche Bowl look?


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 Post subject: Re: South Sister Southside, Mt. Bailey North Face
PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:10 pm 
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Location: Oregon
mofoco wrote:
Always wanted to do that Bailey face. Looks like now is a good time... How'd Avalanche Bowl look?


The north face is still in, probably will be for a few more weeks. Avy Bowl looked good too, but a bit less snow than the north face. I really wanted to drop in and ride it, but the north face is the better of the two IMHO. If you go, take bug spray :)

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