Broken Top

August 16, 2003

Convening Friday night for our Broken Top assault, the last straggler (our leader) finally showed up at the trail head by 10:30 p.m.! At 5,440' the moonlit summer night was clear but unexpectedly cold, dipping below 30° by early morning. Our cars, sleeping bags, AND most of the mosquito population were thoroughly frosted!

After breakfast, and the usual paperwork, we set out under head lamps at 5:20 a.m. Following the Green Lakes trail up to the Newberry Lava flow, we soon reached a major tributary of Fall Creek. Turning NE, we followed this creek 3-miles cross-country, up to its snowfield source, below the west face of our objective. From here, a calf-burning scramble got us up to the saddle in the NW ridge. This 6-mile approach route was done almost entirely in the cool morning (bug-free) shade! We attained this point by 9:20 a.m., after 2 lunch breaks.

Tediously hiking up this ridge crest, we eventually reached the vertical crux pitch on this route. Surmounting it required a couple of 5.0 moves, while body jamming in a large vertical crack running up its face. Climbing advice, and encouragement, was freely offered by all at this point! Above the crux, we traversed a short series of rather exposed switchback ledges on up to the summit. The whole party topped out at Noon, to a lofty perch easily accommodating all six of us. We spent 45 minutes resting, entering our thoughts in the summit book and taking pictures. It was a calm, pestilence free day in bright sunshine, and, at 64°, almost too warm!

With other groups congregating below, we rappelled back down below the crux for our 3rd lunch break. From here it was an easy, if somewhat risky, 1,600' descent straight down an existing scree “trail”, to that snowfield at the base of the west face. Descent on this express route required some care, lest rocks be loosed on those moving farther down. Retracing our x-c and trail routes, we arrived back at the cars, and the iced Martinelli’s cider toast to our success, by 5 p.m. Climbing were: Brian Hamilton, John Hegg, Peggy Lee Mathes, Jason Mueller, Rich Peevers, and Chris Miller (leader).


Chris Miller & Brian Hamilton; Broken Top Summit; North to Middle & North Sisters


John Hegg, Peggy Mathes, Chris Miller; Near base of Crux, 80' below Broken Top Summit; Jefferson beyond, to north


Jason Mueller, Peggy Mathes, Chris Miller, Brian Hamilton; Broken Top Summit; Looking north to Middle & North Sister


Peggy Mathes, Chris Miller, Brian Hamilton, John Hegg, Rich Peevers, Jason Mueller. At 7,200' bench below west face of Broken Top. Looking north to Middle Sister

—photos by Rich Peevers


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