Middle Sister–East Face

June 23-24, 1979

To many people the Middle Sister is just an easy walk-up, but the East Face of this mountain proves to be an interesting ascent. This Face provides steep sections of snow and ice that follow the direct fall line and breath-taking tops out right on the summit.

Under clear skies six of us hiked into the base of Hayden Glacier and got into camp early enough to: take a nap, have a restful dinner (wine included), and to climb a 80°–90° 20-foot snow wall (unroped, of course, to keep the adrenalin up). After the usual comments about one woman and five desperate men out in the wilds (I won’t elaborate on that), we rested until 1:30 a.m. and the start of climb. The early start was necessary to avoid rockfall hazard and to have firm snow to climb on. We were on our way by 2:00 a.m., climbing up Hayden Glacier to the base of the East Face and the start of the serious climbing. Crossing a very rock strewn bergschrund, we then ascended the direct fall line to the summit after a short traverse. Front pointing was necessary for those with stiff ankles due to the steepness of the slope. Vic was unable to take the Face route due to faulty crampons and so traversed to the north ridge to finish the climb. We reached the summit at 6:30 a.m., still under fairly clear skies with a bit of a wind. We descended via the northeast ridge arriving back in camp at 8:30 a.m., just in time to wake Nanci up from a restful sleep (Nanci just came along for the hike).

The East Face is good, quick (4½ hrs.) and an interesting climb that is a good warm-up for more extended, steep snow climbs. The climb is best done in the spring, no later than the end of June. Those on the climb were Vic Bellotti, Mike Browder, Nanci Cooley, Sam Miller, Bob Smythe, and leader Rob Scherer.


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