South Sister

July 1-2, 1978

The Prouty Glacier route is one sure way to avoid South Sister’s “red ridge boredom.” Left Green Lakes camp at 3:15 a.m. Steady flashes of an approaching electrical storm lit our way. At the terminal moraine of Prouty Glacier the storm arrived overhead. Visibility dropped to almost zero—and this is one route where it does help to see where you’re going. Waited a half hour for the fog to lift. Meanwhile, we bathed in a variety of rain, hail, sleet and snow. Soaking wet at 5:00 a.m. is hardly the most encouraging start of a climb. As the storm passed we glimpsed a brief view of what may have been our route—just enough to shoot a quick compass bearing. We headed that way as the clouds swirled in once more. Crossed the Prouty icefall and arrived at the glacier’s headwall. A crashing of rocks hurling out of the fog welcomed us. Another brief clearing showed us one route possibility, though we were still not exactly sure of our location. At top of a steep couloir moved to snow-covered rotten rock for one messy rope lead, complete with snow falling from the sky, thunder again building overhead, and a river of water flowing down the rock and right up my parka sleeve. Above the rock we joined the 45° summit snowfield, but could still not tell where we were. Suddenly topped out on the crater rim a hundred yards from the summit. Reached it at 11:45 in typical visibility—couldn’t see a thing. Followed compass across the crater to top of the Red Ridge for the descent. Clouds now cleared enough for the first good view of the day. Several fast glissades returned us to Green Lakes at 2:00 p.m. Excellent climb and party of Sam Miller, Rob Scherer, Ron Whisler and leader Bert Ewing.

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