Middle Sister

July 8-9, 2000

On July 8, seven intrepid climbers hiked in from the Obsidian trailhead toward Arrowhead Lake. Sporadic patches of deep snow were encountered even before the lava flow, and by the time we reached the Pacific Crest Trail, snow ruled the landscape. We slogged on through undulating sun pits up to the lake where we found the tops of the moraines to be snowfree, but not ant free. We set up camp and watched with some anxiety as numerous large cumulus clouds scudded across our view to the west. The summit of Middle Sister was alternately obscured by a streaming lenticular cloud cap, then revealed in brilliant sunshine. Arrowhead Lake was frozen and mushy, but melt water had accumulated to make a small pool to fill our needs.

We arose before 4:00 a.m. to find the night air still and filled with stars. It seemed relatively warm, but the snow had frozen into a hard crust overnight, perfect for cramponing. After a hasty search and rescue of Mark Slipp’s ice ax, which he left out the evening before while taking care of business, the group started climbing about 4:45. We hiked on snow from the very onset, then all the way up the Renfrew Glacier to the base of the summit massif. There, most of us proceeded straight up it toward the summit. George went for the saddle and raced up the ridge, arriving in 2 hours and 30 minutes from Arrowhead. The rest of us summited within the next 15 minutes, by 7:30. The wind was light, the sun was warm, and the view, as always on clear days, encompassed most of Oregon’s volcanic summits. After 45 minutes or so we headed back down, descending the steep snowfield to the head of the Renfrew, then back to Arrowhead Lake. We rested a few hours, packed our gear, and headed on down the trail. In the valley below Arrowhead Lake, we found bear tracks, probably made in the morning while we were heading for the summit.

Participants and summiteers included Oregonians Mark Slipp, George Jobanek (asst. leader), Dave Strutt, Brad Moehlman and Karl Kriegh (leader). Also Erik Gomez and Melinda Kriegh of Utah added considerable levity to the trip. Injury report: Ant bites, Gomez & Strutt. Note: Leader’s snake bite kit proved to be useless.

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