Three Sisters marathon

10 Aug 2003 - by Chris Bielecki

The main goal here is to complete the traverse of the 3 peaks in less than 24 hours. Although some hardcores have added Broken Top, Bachelor, and/or Little Brother to the mix, I decided to try for only the 3 sisters for my first attempt at this outing. I arranged for my girlfriend to drop me off at Pole Creek trailhead (northeast side of the wilderness) and meet me at the top of the South Sister later in the day. So I left Pole Ck around 1am, reached the southeast ridge of the North Sis around 2 hours later, and summitted this first peak around dawn (6:30am). Since this is the most technical of the three, it is a logical goal early on, as I would be weary of attempting this being tired. There was very little snow here, so I tip-toed across the "terrible traverse" and had little difficulty dealing with the "bowling alley". There had been a recent accident in this area, so I was extra careful, although I went without ropes. After this, I headed down the south ridge, crossed a col, and headed up the north ridge of the Middle Sis. This was a short glaciated section, but there were no crevasses. Above the col the route had a trail beat into the mountain, so it was easy going. I summitted the Middle around 9:30am, and took a short break to talk with some Mazamas (Portland climbing club). I descended the southeast ridge and refilled water at a beautiful glacier melt at the bottom. I then headed west to find the northwest ridge of the South Sister. I had originally planned on climbing the north ridge here (more direct, but with a loose traverse that sounds similar to the North Sister's); however, I opted to take the safer and longer route. I eventually found this ridge, avoiding a steep rocky section by hiking on the upper Eugene Glacier for a few hundred yards. After gaining this ridge, it was slow moving (loose talus, but not too steep). I eventually got to the summit crater around 4:30pm, about an hour and a half later than planned. Luckily, my girlfriend (and ride) had waited for me. I took a much deserved break here in a rock windbreak, and then headed down the climbers' trail to the truck at Devil's Lake trailhead. Although this section was long, it proved to be a good decision ending the hike on a graded trail. The South Sister was socked in with clouds this day, but there was no precipitation and the temps were comfortable. Perhaps next year I will add another mountain to the mix...


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