Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - Middle Sister (Oregon)

Your repellent is NO MATCH for these mosquitoes. Late season this climb is a volcanic choss-fest.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Not much snow. Bring approach shoes to get to camp, no need to walk in Mountaineering boots along a dusty 7 mile trail. Water crossings were fine, there are logs that are stable, but use caution, the second requires some balance-y moves. Mosquitoes galore. Expect at least 30 bites even with high-powered DEET. Brought ice axe, crampons, rope, pickets and harness, used everything for training weight. Use EXTREME caution ascending and ascending from camp...everything from 8500-summit at 10000 is a rockfall hazard.

Started at Pole Creek TH (approx 5k ft) and followed 6.9 miles dusty, dirt trail to camp at Camp Lake (approx. 7k ft). The bugs were HORRENDOUS! No amount of Deet was going to put a dent in that mosquito population...even with loads of bug spray we all walked away with hundreds of bites between us. Some snow around the shore of the lake, nothing of signifigance. Plenty of water to filter. Left 630a and reached the summit before 10a. Carried rope/pickets/harness and ended up stashing them at the saddle but carried ice axe and crampons up in case we needed them. Summit views were GORGEOUS! You could see all the major volcanoes. Rock was super're basically climbing a giant choss pile. Saw THOUSANDS of butterflys around 8000 ft and up... swarming the summit and streaming through the gullies on thier 'butterfly-way'. Beware of any climbers who may be above you on the ascent and steer very clear of their fall line; be wary of climbers below you when you're descending and stay out of their path as well, we were setting off rock avalanches on the descent even though we were all treading lightly and being extremely careful. We had been planning on doing the traverse over to South Sister but it was excruciatingly warm and the choss-fest we just clambered up and down prevented anyone from being excited about that, so we explored the Chambers Lakes a bit then headed down to camp to traverse Camp Lake and wade in the water until the mosquitoes got too bad that we had to retreat to our tents. I'd only do this again in a lot of snow, otherwise the climb is basically two steps forward, one step back, through volcanic rubble.