North Sister, OR


Peak No. 5 of 8

  • Day 4
  • Start 4:30am July 18
  • Elevation gain ~5,000'
  • Summit 10,085', 10:30am
  • Team: Brian, John, and Jerry Norquist, a local resident of Sisters, Oregon


After our "easy" day on Mt. Washington yesterday, we rested up, showered, and slept in tired bliss. But not for long; this day we planned to climb peak numbers 5, 6, and finally 7. We also did an interview with the newspaper in Sisters, informing people about our mission for Jeff.

So- e planned to climb the south ridge of the North Sister, a crumbling spine of loose rock that I had attempted in May with my brother Tom. High on the ridge, our route would join the standard route where it would wind through the west gullies of Prouty Pinnacle, up the Bowling Alley, and finally to the summit. The plan then had Brian and I descending the standard route while Jerry would retrace his steps to the Pole Creek trailhead to retrieve the car. We weren't quite sure what to expect below Prouty Pinnacle, so we had rope, crampons, ice axes, and some rock hardware. We even had ice screws. Although it added a lot of weight, we did not want to be turned around by a lack of protection.

The south ridge is long and somewhat tedious. It does have lots of interesting aretes and gargoyles, but the scree makes this climb a fair amount of work. There are places where the whole hillside is loose scree, and the whole hillside moves with you at times.

As we neared the summit, the loose rock became quite steep and occasionally exposed. Brian and I had traversed this type of terrain before, but we worried about Jerry. Then a snow patch in the upper gullies forced us to negotiate frozen mud immediately below it. This section was steep, and scary. Although our rope could have made it safe, there was nothing to anchor to. We just determined to be very careful, and continue. Brian and I were both impressed with Jerry; he maintained his cool over the frozen muck, and then bouldered rope-less up the summit tower.

After a careful down climb of the summit cliffs, we scooted back across the frozen mud, racing the sun's warming rays. At the shoulder dividing the north ridge and the 'standard' route, Jerry returned for the car and home.

Meanwhile, Brian and John headed off for their next peak of the day, the Middle Sister.


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