North Sister

July 15-16, 2000

Seven Obsidians gathered on a fine Saturday morning for a drive to the Obsidian trailhead and hike to our camp at Arrowhead Lake. We encountered considerable snow on the trail soon after we crossed the lava flow, but a portion of the lake was melted out for water and there were plenty of dry spots to set up the tents.

The only other camp at Arrowhead belonged to fellow Obsidian Brian Hoyland, who was planning to ascend the Middle Sister with a friend. I’m sure we woke them as our group prepared for a 3:00 a.m. start under a brilliant full moon. We were able to don crampons as soon as we left camp and enjoyed good snow, warm calm air, and a partial eclipse as we climbed to the base of the south ridge. Then we endured the miserable scramble up loose scree and the slog to the upper portion of the ridge. The way was clear of snow (barely) until we reached the base of the summit pinnacle. Here we encountered two full rope lengths of soft, sixty degree snow. We kicked in steps and set a line to access the rock chute leading to the top, which we found contained some remnant ice. The headwall to the right was clear and went so nicely that I don’t think I’ll climb the chute again. Though the morning and the view were glorious we did not tarry long on top, as I was anxious to get back across the traverse before the sun hit the already soft snow. It was not until we were well on our way back down the ridge that I was able to relax and truly savor the success of another summit on the North Sister.

As always, this climb requires a true team effort and I was very grateful to be accompanied by such a strong and capable group. Thanks to every one of them. And special thanks to John Pegg and assistant leader Shawn Lockery for their support, advice and able assistance. Other climbers were: Bob Burnett, John & Lisa Manotti, Jim Pierce. —Doug Nelson, leader.


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