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Home Forums TR Archive Oregon Volcano Raid Round 2: part 1 Broken Top

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    Kyle Miller

    June, 22nd, 2009

    It started off with a phone call on Saturday afternoon from an R& D designer working with Gore Tek looking for someone who could test out a new product in the field. Less then 24 hours later Jon Garrison and I were on our way down to 3 Sisters Wilderness to tackle the first of many volcanos, Broken Top. We arrived at the Todd Lake trail head junction at 3 A.M. and were able to get a few hours of sleep in the gravel parking lot.

    Our Ascent on the right and decent on the left

    I woke up to the early morning sun cooking me alive in my 0 degree sleeping bag. Finally some pure unfiltered sunshine to break the monotony of partly to mostly cloudy days we have been having in Washington. The day started off on a high note when 5 people wearing spandex from head to toe carrying skinny skis started running by us high fiving each other along the way, I would pay to have a picture of the look on my face. We decided to follow forest road 370 to the Broken Top trail head with the hope of having continuous snow along the way. Within 5 minutes of hiking on the road which seemed to double as a cross country skiing trail during the winter we were able to switch over to skinning. We knew quite well that it was late in the season for Broken Top and the first sign of it was massive sun cups that ranged from a few inches to a foot deep on the flat sections but we kept heading north towards the massive rotten volcano in the horizon in hopes of a good ski line in the crater.

    After a few miles of skinning across the massive sun cups we found ourselves within the eroded crater of Broken Top. Our options of potential lines were limited as most of the routes had melted out leaving us with two options of continuous lines from the summit ridge , a steep and exposed South facing couloir with a stress crack running across the slope and the smooth continuous 3 o clock couloir which ran all the way from the East rim. It was an easy decision as we switched from skinning to cramponing up the slopes of the 3 o clock colouir. The snow was still firm in the early afternoon sun making good foot holds for switch backing up the steep face. The final thousand feet was fast and uneventful as we approached the summit ridge exposing us to views of the Middle and North Sisters. My original intention was to gain summit proper but after examining the steep rotten rock I would have to climb unroped it was an easy decision to climb to the high point of the East rim instead.

    Looking back at Bachelor on the suncupped flats

    Jon skinning with Broken Top in the background

    Jon Cramponing up the Crook Glacier

    Cramponing up the 3 o’clock couloir with Bachelor in the background

    Jon nearing the Rim with the Middle Sister and North Sister in the background

    After scoping out the views of the surround peaks and waiting for the snow to soften for about an hour we got our gear together and prepared for our decent. The West facing slopes off the east rim had only softened on the top two inches but was good enough to hold an edge on the decent. Once we reached the crook glacier the snow had softened into perfect corn for the final 1500 vertical feet. Once arriving on the flats we decided to take a more direct path back through Lake Todd to Jon truck. We looked for the high point in the vastness of flat terrain and skinned up to the ridge that separates Lake Todd and Broken tops massive flat Moraine. Once arriving on the ridge we descended down the melted out south facing slope down to the muddy shores of Todd Lake and traveled counter clock wise across the shore until reaching the trail back to the car.

    The view from our high point on the East Rim

    Jon dropping off the East rims summit

    Lower slopes of the Crook Glacier

    Mt Bachelor from Todd Lake

    In conclusion Broken Top is a massive rotten volcano that doesn’t seem to hold snow later on in the season. While the south facing slopes have some fine terrain the West face seems to hold the best fall line or possibly the North face if you don’t mind dealing with exposure. If interested in hitting up broken top I advise to do so early in the season when the snow pack is at full potential as the slopes melt out fast. Thank you to all the people who have help me along the way without your help and donations this trip would not have been possible.

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