Middle Sister and South Sister

We left the truck at the Obsidian trailhead (trail #3528) and hiked to the southern border of the Obsidian limited entry area on the PCT. We found a very nice campsite to the east of the PCT a couple hundred feet south of the limited entry area. 2 hours 15 minutes from trailhead.

The next morning we took a boot path east, we scrambled the north side of the Folding Rock, and stayed on rock until almost reaching the saddle between North and Middle Sister. From there we headed south and took an easy boot path to the top of Middle Sister. 3 hours 20 minutes from camp.

We took the south ridge off of Middle Sister. The upper part had a lot of scree that was fun to slide down on. Later it turned into loose rock and then a couple snow fields, earlier in the year this might be nice to take skis on. The Chambers Lakes valley between Middle and South Sister is beautiful, it has some very vibrant orange rock that from afar looks like it it vegetation, this would be a good place to camp. Lots of water here.

We took the north ridge up South Sister. At first it is just a steep slog. Below the buttress at 9,400 feet it starts turning onto a scramble. The route goes around the right side of the buttress, at this point I think the route ceases to be a scramble and becomes a climb. There is exposure, the rock is fairly steep, and the rock hardly deserves the name "rock". It's closer to really tough red cake frosting, half of the handholds can be kicked off after using them. We should have turned around at this point, but we didn't. The crummy red rock lasts until about 20 feet below the top of the buttress, at this point we had to either climb some almost vertical rock with good handholds or put on crampons and traverse to the right. We climbed. The remaining few hundred vertical feet are a cakewalk. 5 hours 50 minutes from the summit of Middle Sister to the summit of South Sister.

The views on top of South Sister were great. Rainier and Helens were barely visible, Adams, Hood, Jefferson, and all the other local peaks were out. It was two hours until sunset so I didn't even take the time to look south. In warmer weather I'll bet the pond in the crater is a lovely blue.

We took the west ridge down, there is a lot of loose scree on the upper parts, we angled over to meet the nice boot path that connects the PCT to the Chambers Lakes. This is a beautiful trail, I especially admired the cliffs to the north with the steep talus slopes. We met with the PCT 2 hours 30 minutes after leaving the summit.

It took 2 hours 30 minutes to hike back to our camp in the dark. In total we spent 15 hours doing Middle and South Sister.

2 hours 45 minutes the next day to hike back to the truck.

Copyright © 2004 Gabriel Deal.