This last weekend I had a great opportunity to climb South Sister with some friends.
South Sister is the third tallest peak in Oregon at 10,358ft and has some notable trivia. It the the youngest and tallest of the three volcanoes in the three sisters collection of mountains in central Oregon. Teardrop Pool at the summit is the highest lake in Oregon. The mountain also hosts Prouty Glacier, which is the largest glacier in Oregon.
We decided to take the standard route from Devil’s Lake to the summit. Situated at 5,440ft, it’s a beautiful blue-green emerald to start from. We started out across a small open meadow, then start the steady 1.5 mile hike up between Devil’s Hill and Kaleetan Butte. You get no views during that part, until you open into a beautiful alpine meadow where you get your first amazing view of South Sister and Moraine Lake.
We cross the mile or so of the steadily climbing meadow until we hit the mountain proper and start the real ascent. I’s a dusty and steep climb. There was a little trail finding needed as there are lots of little paths criss-crossing their way up.
Reaching 8,900ft, we reach the base of Lewis glacier and get a good view of the last push. From here, the rock turns to red, dusty, and chunky pumice. It’s quite a slog at this point as there are lots of little criss-crossing routes up through the crumbly rock. A set of poles here is a godsend for footing.
Then, you reach the summit ridge! Here you can see Teardrop Pool. I stopped to wash off my hands, and it was just as cold as you might expect. You still need to walk from the south end of the rim to the north end to reach the true summit. As you make your way around, you’ll see piles of rocks and small forts that look like people have set up small bivouacs against the winds.
So, overall, it was a great climb. Took us about 8 hours or so if I remember right. Not the fastest ascent, but I had done almost NO exercising or hiking for about a month and half before doing this climb. So in reality, I think I didn’t do such a bad job overall. I think I’ll certainly do this climb again. I also recommend it for anyone looking for a good conditioning climb that wants to test their fitness without having to do a lot of technical work.