For the 4th of July weekend Ingrid and I went over to the Three Sisters to climb Middle Sister. We went in through the Pole Creek trailhead and headed up through the dust. In a few miles we crossed a beautiful creek on a log and came into the snow. We followed the boot track and pink ribbons up towards the Middle Sister. Skull and crossbones flags would be more bad ass and forboding than pink, but it might scare the hippies.
We tramped through the snow up to the tree line and looked for a nice camping spot out of the wind. We found a few, but unfortunetly they were filled with tents. We thought it rude to move the tents and all their gear so we found our own spot in the snow. I brewed up some water for our little dehydrated meals as the sun went down and we were treated to nice skies.
I saw the Mazamas were doing the same route as us, so originally planned on us getting up uber early and beating them to the summit. When we got out of the tent at 5am I saw their line of people already near the shoulder of the climb. So much for that. We drank our hot cocoa and granola and headed up into the sun.
The majority of the climb is glacier trudging with great views. We discussed EPO and blood doping as a way to make it more enjoyable but decided the costs and ethical implications outweighed the benefits. We had our harnesses and I broke out the glacier rope in case we wanted to belay any sections of the steep stuff. That and I think the rope looks cool.
We caught up to the group of Mazamas on the steep section. They had a fixed line for about 200 feet of climbing. I had never seen one before so it was pretty interesting to see. We climbed just under the rope to the right as they had the best line already covered. It was fun climbing with a few steeper angled sections that you had to kick steps and what not. I had to throw snowballs at Ingrid to keep her from passing me and showing me up.
We made short work of the wall and ran up to the summit. By ran I mean walked as fast as possible, which is still hard to do at altitude regardless of the hill running on the comparable Mt. Tabor. We joined the throng of people on the summit and ate our munchies and looked at the surrounding mountains.
The Mazamas headed down and we were lonely so we followed them. Ingrid showed off her downclimbing skills while I tried not to fall off in front of everyone. We boogied past the fixed rope and made it down to the saddle fairly quickly. We drank water and ate more gu and nasty food while shedding layers and putting away gear. Now the sun was for sure fully out and we tried to stay fully covered to not too burnt.
By the time we were at camp I think the group was still messing around near the fixed ropes. Two of them who hadn't summited were hanging out below the saddle waiting for the rest of the group. I imagine it would be frustrating to sit there in the sun for hours on end just waiting.
Ingrid took a nap while I made more water for the trek out. I tried to sleep but it was too hot in the tent for me so I ate more chocolate. After packing everything back into the packs we headed out and got down as quickly as possible, the Cheezits were waiting down at the car.
After carrying up so much weight for South Sister, I tried to have us only bring the minimum on this climb. But our packs were still heavy and full. I'm not sure what we can pare down for the next time. Perhaps our tent is too big, maybe a First Light tent is in order? We only brought a few meals and no real food, though next time a few sandwiches and an extra tasty meal will be in the menu. I don't know the answer for carrying less as I feel we need everything we had with us. I might accost climbers on other trips and go through their packs to see what's what.
Once on the summit I had the familiar pull of needing to get down the mountain. Logically there is no reason to only spend five minutes on top and run back down (in the case of this climb.) So we could stay up there longer and soak in the views and relax more before the downclimb. It might be a combination of not wanting to be in mushy snow or be near other climbers in case they slip up and fall into us (not sure how that'd happen on a fixed line here.)
It was fun to get up another mountain with my partner. Hopefully more are to come, Mt. Adams should be next. The turnaround time for us wanting to climb again was very short. Sometimes while walking off the mountain it's sworn that it will be months until that sort of thing is to be done again. After this climb it was only a few days before the itch set in to get back out there. The planning and scheming has started already.