North Sister

August 13, 1988

Early Saturday morning 12 climbers eagerly scrambled from their tents and made comments like “is it really 3:30 already?” as they prepared for an attempt on the summit of North Sister. After climbing up to the edge of the Collier Glacier, a ferocious hailstorm with some distant thunder and lightning came upon us. At this point 9 of us elected to wait 30 minutes to see if it would clear while the others elected to return to camp. The storm did abate and clear skies appeared. We continued without incident and reached the summit at 12:15. The dinner plate area was completely free of snow and crossing was really quite simple. While on the top Dana Gardner was quite pleased to be able to observe a cloud from the inside. We began our descent with no change in the weather but while working out the chute and dinner plate area we were suddenly pounded by hailstones larger than any of us had ever seen. It sounded like rocks hitting our helmets and with the hail bouncing off all the surrounding rock it made for quite an experience. And then the lightning storm. One bolt hit the lower southern pinnacle and the odor of burned rock drifted down to us. The charge was still in the air as people watched their hair float, and heard carabiners rattle and a strange ticking noise. Needless to say, all climbers became extremely skilled at crossing steep rock traverses at a fast pace. We descended without incident and arrived at our tents in time for some meadow napping before dinner. All who climbed that day were dedicated storm watchers that completely enjoyed the experience. The participants in this climbing adventure were Wendy Boyd, Linda Erz, Mark Brackebusch, Dana Gardner, Jason Donnelly, Jim Farwell, Gene Thaxton, assistant leader Elaine Walters and Tom Donnelly (leader).


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