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Climbing: South Sister

Climbing: South Sister

Trip Information

Distance: 12 miles out and back
Difficulty: Difficult
Fees: Northwest Forest Pass
View my Gaia GPS track here

Around 7pm on Saturday evening, as i was getting ready to go meet up with a friend of mine for some wine, I get a notification from Instagram with a comment from Brianna on one of my recent posts saying, "Wanna climb South Sister tomorrow?" I couldn't tell if she was serious or not, but when opportunities and mountains call, I answered, "Yes."

I found myself driving from Portland to the South Sister trailhead 8 hours later and we began our climb a little past 7am Sunday morning.

The first couple miles went through tons of trees - mosquitos were abundant at this time of year, but that helped us to keep pushing. About a mile in, we began to spot patches of snow.

About two miles in, the path flattened out significantly for awhile with a very well groomed trail. This went on for about another two miles or so. There were still patches of snow but we were able to avoid it for the most part of our climb.

Before the push to the false summit, we hit Lewis Glacier and Teardrop Pool, the highest lake in Oregon. The lake was such a vivid blue-green and incredibly clear and crisp.

After we filtered some water, we continued to push on towards the false summit. This was where the trail began to get challenging as the snow was gone and we were hiking (more like slipping for me) up scree. We finally got to the false summit and from there, all it took to get to the summit was an easy 5-minute snow field crossing (we didn't even need microspikes or crampons because the booth path was perfect) and then a quick hike up from there to the summit.

At the summit there is a lip before you look down at the crater and was that view stunning! We had a gorgeous bluebird day and not a trace of wind. From the summit, we were able to see Middle Sister, Mount Jefferson, Mount Hood, Mount Adams, Broken Top, Mount Bachelor, and several other Cascade peaks.

The descent the first part of the way down to the lake was a bit precarious as we were descending on scree. After Teardrop Pool, the descent became much easier and we were able to get down in a fraction of the time it took us to make the ascent.

I am incredibly grateful for the bonds that the hiking community has presented to me and the spontaneity (and incredibly opportune timing) of this particular climb! This is my third volcanic summit of this summer...with hopefully more to come!

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