I'm looking for info on the Three sisters wilderness area. I've never spent any time on glaciers. I was hoping to approach and possibly summit all three sisters and broken top. The 9 O'clock couloir is defiantly on the list.
I was planning on approaching into green lakes area the first week of may. I realize the weather could be kinda crappy. What's the snowpack typically like? How complicated are the glaciers? I just bought freedom of hills so I hope to understand these areas better but if anyone can outline the major concerns for the area/time of year that would be great. I assume crampons and ice axes are a must but what about ropes? How many day's would such a traverse take? Special concerns?
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 9:45 pm Posts: 864 Location: hopefully not at work
If you are planning to summit N. Sister w/out a rope you better have your skills dialed swinging tools in a variety of ice/rime conditions and also have some solid rock climbing skills for the shitty rock. YMMV
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2004 8:41 pm Posts: 1622 Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Check out Three Sisters Backcountry. A couple of the guides there are good friends of mine; they can give you some beta on the area. There are also a couple locals on this forum that come out of the woodwork from time to time. Might have better luck over on CascadeClimbers.com.
From my limited experience in that area, here are a few thoughts:
- In early May the snowpack is probably going to be pretty deep. Most of the glaciated areas will probably be pretty well covered. Access is likely to be an issue, as the road past Mt. Bachelor probably will be closed, as will the road leading to Pole Creek (at the other end by N Sister). You might try to hook up with a local w/a snomo who could tow you partway in a take out some of the approach. Weather might still be an issue at that time. I think it generally gets more stable starting around the end of May.
- I think it's pretty common for climbers to do that entire traverse in a day later in the season (after ski season is done). Going earlier in the season w/skis will take longer. Search for "Sisters Marathon".
- S and M Sister seem like they have pretty straightfoward summit routes, but not N Sister. Same thing with ski routes. On the plus side, in early May you might end up with better ski conditions. Spring can be hit or miss especially with N Sister. I've been out there when S and M Sister were in good shape, but N Sister was horribly unstable. There's also a lot of rockfall danger. And serious avy potential. Check out these pics from a massive avy out there last summer:
I'm starting realize how much different these areas are from what I've been climbing here in SW MT and I won't be attempting this route at all this spring. LOT's of training to be done first. I defiantly need to take the elementary route. Mt Canoes seem to be vastly different beasts.