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Trip Report    

Middle Sister (Oregon)

A late season climb up a giant pile of sand

  • Sat, Sep 1, 2018 — Sun, Sep 2, 2018
  • Middle Sister
  • Climbing
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The trail is dry and dusty and the burnt trees give the feeling of a post-apocalyptic world. There is a stream about 2 miles in but the water is quite silty. 4 miles in there's a fork in the road, the left path goes to a stream in another mile but makes the distance to camp a half mile longer, and the right fork goes straight to camp. We took the left fork but didn't need to filter any water. The Hayden glacier is too crevassed to cross so we went to the saddle between Prouty Point and North Sister, then behind Prouty. There was not a cloud in the sky the entire time, although you could see wildfires burning not too far away.

The drive from Seattle took most of the day, stopping by Portland for lunch. Left at 0800 and got to the TH at 1600. Lots of trail runners going to and fro. Originally we were going to bring harnesses and ropes but ditched them after reading previous trip reports. We brought 4l of water each since we weren't sure which streams were running. The hike to camp was uneventful and we reached camp at 1845. Because of our detour to the stream it was 5.7 miles to camp. Got beta from a trail runner about the state of the Hayden and the detour. Apparently this man did Broken Top and all three sisters in a day so we're obviously doing it wrong.

Woke up at 0500, snoozed, left off at 0600, and about a mile in we hit a massive talus field and the trail now just flickers in and out between the rock. Reached the Prouty-North saddle at 0830, put on boots and crampons, and walked on the ice for 10 minutes. At this point you could either stay on the snow or go over the other massive talus field to the top of the Hayden. We elected to go through the talus field for now.

The last 800 ft was like walking on a pile of sand. We took a beaten trail just left of the ridge. The steep middle section was the most dangerous and involved scrambling over sharp rocks of questionable stability. Helmets are a must, ice axe helped a lot. Everything is a rockfall hazard. 

We reached the summit at 1100. There were a ton of butterflies everywhere. Started descending at 1130. On the way down we took a path to the right that goes over the ridge and avoids the rockfall area. This time we went through the snow rather than the talus field. Got to camp at 1430, out of camp at 1500, back to cars at 1700. 

South Sister the next day was more of the same. I would probably not do these again unless it was all covered in snow.