Broken Top

Sunday, September 30, 2012
Leader: Brian Hamilton
Climb: 12 miles, 3900 ft

It is rewarding to lead climbers on their first time up a peak! They experience the views from the summit for the first time so there are a lot of “Wows!” and picture-taking. There is plenty of anticipation and some nervousness about the route, especially when they have heard stories about parts of a climb like the “catwalk” on Broken Top. On this trip, four of the climbers were experienced mountaineers, but had never reached the summit of Broken Top. For the other two, this was their first roped climb. Starting at the Green Lakes Trailhead, we hiked into our campsite next to a spring east of Green Lakes, arriving with just a few minutes of daylight left. After setting up our shelters, we ate dinner at nightfall. Soon, we were treated with a big, bright, full moon rising in the “V” between Broken Top’s summit and the south peak. The moon illuminated the South Sister to our west and the landscape around us so well that we could walk about without lights. Some of us struggled to get a good night’s sleep with the bright moonlight shining in our faces, yet all were awake by 5:00 AM. We began climbing shortly after 6:00 and when we reached the saddle of the north ridge, we could see the devastation caused by the smoldering Pole Creek Fire to the northeast. Smoke was held down by the cool air, but still we saw a tree burst into a flaming torch about two miles away. As we neared the summit, we came across a scattering of blonde dreadlocks on the ground. We imagined that someone felt that achieving this high point was such a significant life event for them that they could only complete it by cutting their hair off! All of us made it to the summit by 9:00 and we stayed there nearly an hour, taking pictures and eating snacks, including “socolate” (summit chocolate). During our descent down the north ridge, smoke from the fire began rising and pushing westward. By the time we reached our camp, the brown haze had enveloped the summits of Broken Top and South and Middle Sisters. We had passed several climbers on our way down, including six Mazamas ascending into the smoke, and we were glad to have completed our climb early in the day. Back at camp, a few in our group were able to pack quickly so that they could enjoy a dip in the lake before the rest of us caught up. This was a great end-of-the-year climb made even better with a cheerful group of strong hikers, comfortable temperatures, and no mosquitoes!

Members: Hamilton, Brian, Harris, Danneille, Beardsley, Dave, Robertson, Shellie. Nonmembers: Polhemus, Julie, Rogers, Jennifer, Glick, Ted.

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