Middle Sister

July 19-20, 1980

“God descends from the wilderness!” So said Sally Grosscup upon my (Rex) arrival in high camp near Hayden Glacier on the east side of Middle Sister. The scheduled climb was nearly aborted due to the leader being out of town and out of touch with the sign-up sheet. Six people signed up and my apology for poor communications, but only three made the climb.

The three left Pole Camp trailhead at different times and only “good vibes” led the leader to the Grosscups’ camp on the mountain. We had no arrangement for meeting other than Rick’s note on USFS sign-out sheet that they would camp at the edge of Hayden Glacier. When I walked into their camp “without flaming bush in hand” Sally made her statement.

They, on their first climb, wished over and over that their leader would show up. Well, enough of that — let’s get on with the climb.

The plan was to leave at 4 a.m., but we did not get started until 5 a.m. That put us up on the glacier, however, for a splendid sunrise. About ½ way up the glacier we put on crampons. Just before reaching the north ridge of Middle we roped up and practiced a few self-arrests before heading up the steep glacier face. All were feeling good as we arrived on the mountain at 9 a.m., only to find about 10 people camped on the summit. After hours of lunchbreak we descended to camp by noon and to the car by 4 p.m.

Comment: The mountain was crowded on our descent with three large parties in tennis shoes, no rope, crampons packs, hard hats, clothing (in shorts) with many youngsters who were good candidates for an accident. We should do some public relations on the danger of such camping. We were the only party on the mountain that roped up on the steep snow field, which this year extends all the way to the summit.

On the trip were Rick and Sally Grosscup and Rex Stevens (leader).


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