North Sister

August 18, 1996

The North Sister is a dangerous mountain. It requires not only faith in your own ability and mountaineering skill, but faith that the mountain will hold together long enough for you to climb it. It is a loose pile of deteriorating volcanic rubble, where any rock can come loose in your hand, and a boulder the size of a Volkswagen can roll down on you at any time. Perhaps that is why the early pioneers called the mountain “Faith” (the other Sisters being Hope and Charity). After a little anxiety about the weather from the clouds and freezing temperatures the evening before at Arrowhead Lake, seven Obsidians left for the summit at 4:00 am. We made good time up the Collier Glacier and the South Ridge, although there were some close calls from falling rock ascending the ridgeline. The famous traverse, known as the “dinner plate” was a 45- to 50-degree slope of icy snow. But it was perfect for crampons and no one had any problem following the fixed line, protected by pickets, across and around to the “bowling alley” which leads to the ridge and to the north horn of Prouty Pinnacle. Being very careful not to kick down rocks on fellow climbers, we were soon all together on the summit. The North Sister is always a good summit, but this was a very special time for a number of the climbers. For Larry Smith and Royal Murdock, this was the last mountain needed for the prestigious 10 Peak Award, meaning that they have now climbed the ten major peaks in Oregon on official Obsidian climbs. Along with Bryan Hoyland, they both earned their Three Sisters Award, having climbed each of the Sisters with the Obsidians. This makes all three of them eligible to become “Chiefs” at the next annual meeting of that venerable group. It was a time to congratulate ourselves on our individual accomplishments. But most of all, it was a time to enjoy the simple pleasure of being alive at that moment, sitting on top of the world in the warm August sunshine, with the peaks of the Cascades spread out before us from Mt. Adams in the north to Mt. Thielsen in the south. Climbers were Doug Nelson, assistant leader, Karl Kriegh, Brian Hoyland, Deb Carver, Royal Murdock, Larry Smith, and John Pegg, leader.


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