Forums Trip Reports South Side of South Sister – 6/16/2012
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  • #577048
    282 Posts

    After a couple of tries we made it out to the South Sister! We woke up a bit before 5 for breakfast and coffee at a nearby Sno-Park.

    It was a Saturday so there was plenty of company, half mountaineers and half skiers. We only saw one snowboarder besides us all day!

    6 Miles and over 5,000′ feet lay ahead.

    After about 1,300′ feet and 2 miles of firm, tree welled skinning you break out into the open and get a great view of the South Sister.

    And Broken Top

    Bachelor is behind you looking pretty tall at this point

    At about 7,500′ I go solo leaving my (gracious, beautiful and awesome) wife to bake in the sun while I “see how far I can get.”

    I make decent time up the last of the gentle lower slopes and then skin mostly, only booting a short section, up the steep choke before the ridge adjacent to the Lewis Glacier.

    The small pool at the foot of the Lewis glacier is super cool.

    I still have a lot more to climb and it’s getting late but the snow is ok. “I’ll just make it to where you cut over to the south face from the ridge.”

    Broken Top looks quite a bit smaller now. Man I want to make some turns down it!

    To get to the South Face I crossed a tiny crevasse on my split during the ascent of the ridge. I crossed closest to the scree and just as I leave it behind a guy pops through up to his thigh. Yikes. He gets himself out and continues on his way with his partner.

    Further up the ridge where the angle increased and an unarrested slip of 20′ could mean sliding down the steep face of the Lewis Glacer I opt to put skis on my back and use my axe. Yes I am cautious!

    I make it to the South Face just as many of the mountaineers are descending. I am so close now I can’t stop.

    I have to walk a short rocky section to get on to the South Face. I use the transition and comfortable perch to eat and drink some as I watch about 6 people make turns down the South Face. From the looks of their turns the snow is still pretty firm.

    I start skinning on the firm but edgable South Face. I start sliding some and opt to boot with an axe and pole. Ugh it’s too low angle to do much of that. I switch back to skinning. I get into a groove using my pole for a belay on my ski and manage to make it all the way to the false summit.

    It is late and I’m whipped. I came here to snowboard so I skip the true summit. I miss out on the 360 degree views and another 1/4+ mile of skinning and a couple hundred feet of vert. I settle for huge views looking south.

    Does anyone know what the peaks to the South are? I looked on topos but am unsure of what they are. They looked huge.

    I’ll be back to summit but for now I get excited for 5,000′ of descent back to the car!

    I make a few controlled turns down the South Face and they are choppy and firm but still super fun. I had decided to descend the way I had come up making it easy to meet back up with my wife. I cut back over to the ridge and the to Lewis Glacier. I boot over the rocks to continue my descent.

    The snow was ok on the upper sections. I’ll admit to mostly side slipping the portion I had self belayed on the way up. I didn’t feel like risking a slip only to end up tomahawking down that steep face!

    Once past the narrowest exposed part of the ridge I again cross the small crevasse where a skin track was. Turns out that was scarier than shit. Lucky I went by it pretty quickly.


    The bottom portion of the ridge was perfect corn and was super fast and fun. I ride it to the top of the next steep portion and boot the few steps over the rocks and then whiz past numerous mountaineers.


    The lower angle turns below this got a bit gloppy but were still amazingly fun and fast. I got to make some of the biggest turns I ever have. At least damn close!

    I meet back up with Kelly, my wife, and start to recount the trip up and down while making some water and resting. She tells me about all the people “complaining their way up the mountain” it cracks me up.

    We head out and make turns down the remaining low angle slopes. They’re gloppy and slow but you can’t help but still have a blast!

    We start retracing our steps and I’m getting pretty goofy but am super stoked.

    We start skinning the flats and start doing some split skiing.


    We hit the trees and I split ski nearly all of it. Kelly decides to boot. Neither of us are really up for snowboarding through this mess at this point.

    Everything went fine on the exit until literally a couple hundred feet from the road when I got caught up in a tree well. I tried to keep smiling but had to throw a small tantrum to get out.

    A short walk on the road led us back to the car but it was not without one more goofy mishap.

    What a great mountain and a great time! Gotta love those volcanoes! Here’s my ascent and descent route.

    246 Posts

    nice TR!

    look me up if you guys make a stop in seattle… i’m pretty hospitable to folks living out of vans (especially when i’m not doing so myself!)

    85 Posts

    great report! i was up there a week earlier. noticeable difference in snow depth. the snow is drying up quick in southern oregon.

    and don’t worry about that exit. it was a bitch!

    too bad it’s supposed to be shitty for us weekend enthusiasts!

    28 Posts

    Hoping it holds out till next weekend (30th/1st) as I’m planning to make a go of it then. I blame all of you for this of course. If only it didn’t look so damn inviting!

    Cheating the calender a bit for $ reasons

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