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| |-+  June 2008 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  June 20-21, 2008 South Sister, OR
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Author Topic: June 20-21, 2008 South Sister, OR  (Read 2110 times)

Posts: 479

June 20-21, 2008 South Sister, OR
« on: 06/22/08, 09:51 AM »

Left the Willamette Valley around 3:00pm on Friday June 20th with temps near 90 degrees.  The weather forecast called for continued sunny skies, with possible thunderstorms Saturday night.  I met Loofus at the trailhead at Devils Lake about 6:30pm and we were on the trail by 7:00pm.  By 9:00pm, we had selected a nice campsite at about 6700 feet.

Broken Top near dusk........

We found an open patch of bare ground and set up the bivies with great views to the south.  Here's a picture of South Sister from camp....


The next morning we awoke at 4:15am and melted some water and had breakfast.  The skies were partly cloudy but the summit looked nice.  We were skinning by 5:10am and made good time up the hill.  Off in the distance, thunder clouds had been building and looked menacing.  At about 6:30am, we had reached 8500 feet and were nearing the summit ridge and Lewis Glacier when we got a little jolt.

The view from 8000 feet....

As we continued up, a dark black cloud that had earlier kept its distance approached.  Up until this point, we hadn't seen anyone else on the mountain, and still couldn't see anyone below.  I started wondering if they knew something about the weather we didn't.  Then, a huge flash of lightening followed immediately by a loud rumble that shook the mountain.  I don't know how far the bolt was from us, but it too close for comfort, and we motored to the nearest small tree cover.  So much for "afternoon" thunderstorms.  Todd headed down, and I ripped my skins off my split board and quickly put it together and rode down.  We rode down to about 7500 feet and assessed the situation.  The weather continued to play games, so we decided to ski back to camp.  The turns were nice and steep, but a bit slushy.  On the way down, I broke one of my Leki poles in half trying to push on a traverse. 

Back at camp, we toyed with the idea of going back up, but the snow was getting pretty sticky.  Damn - we should have been on the summit by 8:30am or sooner!  Maybe we should have summited the night before and bivied in the summit crater?  The weather stayed so-so, and with a broken pole, I didn't know how easy it would be to skin all the way back up.  We made some coffee at camp, and decided to run a few laps on Little Broken Top, which is short but nice and steep........

Loofus skiing on Little Broken Top...

About 9:00, the hordes started heading up to 7000 feet on the main route.  We stuck around for awhile longer, then skinned out over the long flat section near Moraine Lake.  The few sections where I had to "ski" with my splitboard were comical at best. 

We were able to link turns all the way back down to the car, for over 3000 vertical feet.  The ski out to the road will probably be good for another week or so, but it's going fast down low.  In all likelihood, we probably could have made the summit, and I know others who came up yesterday did, but the lightning left us a little skittish.  Oh well, now there's a new excuse for another trip.  The Deschutes Brewery beers were still nice and cold at the car at noon either way!

Loofus skiing out in Hell Creek drainage......
« Last Edit: 06/22/08, 11:15 AM by stoudema » Logged

There is nothing more practical in the end than the preservation of beauty." - Theodore Roosevelt

Posts: 66

Re: June 20-21, 2008 South Sister, OR
« Reply #1 on: 06/23/08, 09:19 AM »

It appears you had an electrifying experience. Glad it wasn't too shocking.

Is the road opened to the Devil's Lake Trailhead?

Posts: 34

Re: June 20-21, 2008 South Sister, OR
« Reply #2 on: 06/23/08, 11:44 AM »

It appears you had an electrifying experience. Glad it wasn't too shocking.

Is the road opened to the Devil's Lake Trailhead?

Let's just say that those were the only terror-induced turns I've ever made.  I actually made some fairly graceful turns considering the first 300 feet or so was with climbing wires up and skins still on.  I always thought it would be more difficult to ski while trying to kiss your butt goodbye, but it was actually fairly easy.  Things could've turned out much worse than they did.  That was WAY too close for comfort.

Yeah, the road is open and there is plenty of parking along the highway at Devil's Lake.  I went back up yesterday and skinned up to our camp (looking for my bivy, which was in my trunk the whole time).  The conditions were significantly different.  The snow is going fast and the big crevasse on the Lewis is now open.  I don't think it's going to be good much longer.

What route did you take up Diamond; PGR, Corrigan, other?  Looks like it was good times.
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