May 24-25, 2009 – South Sister (via Green Lakes)

I left the Willamette Valley in the mid-morning with plans to skin into Green Lakes for a weekend of riding on the South Sister. The drive over was pleasant, and I soon met Todd at the Green Lakes trailhead on the recently opened Cascade Lakes Highway. We started skinning the 4 miles into Green Lakes at about noon, and planned on meeting up with Buell to ride the South Sister the following day. The skin in to Green Lakes went nicely, and there was still ample snow in the Fall River drainage. The only time we needed to take off the skis was the lone creek crossing…

Todd crossing the Fall River

About 3:30 or so we found Buell and made camp just south of Green Lakes. Dinner followed after discussing plans for the next morning’s assault. The evening sun setting on Broken Top to the east made for a nice picture, just feet from where I dug the snow pit for my bivy sack.

Broken Top’s West Face

The view of the South Sister from our camp site wasn’t too bad either…..there’s some nice looking lines off the Hodgecrest that I will return to ride someday…

The view from camp

The next morning, I awoke to an icy bivy sack and cold hard snow. After a quick breakfast, we started climbing at 4:30. The snow was set up pretty hard, and crampons and axes were mandatory in the steeper sections.

Buell & Todd climbing above Green Lakes

We hooked up with the south side route at about 8:00 and continued upward. Todd gassed out around 8000 feet and headed back down complaining of a headache and general tiredness. It turned out later he had some sort of virus, so I guess that was a good enough excuse:). Here’s a shot of Buell and Todd below the Lewis Glacier and link-up with the standard south side route…

Hiking below the Lewis Glacier

Buell and I continued up the ridge next to the Lewis Glacier, keeping the boards on our backs and using the crampons due to the hard snow conditions.

Matt & the Lewis Glacier

Other than a large bergschrund near the top of the Lewis, the glacier was nicely filled in and crevasse free. Buell moved in closer for a better look at the big crack in the ice…

Peering into the Bergy
Climbing the final pitch to the summit plateau

We reached the summit plateau, and hiked the quarter mile across the flats to the actual summit on the north side of the mountain. Here’s a shot of the summit photo showing the North and Middle Sisters, Mt Jefferson, and others in the distance…..

The view from the summit of South Sister

The view looking down the Prouty Glacier looked promising, but after further inspection by Buell, we headed down towards Green Lakes riding an easterly aspect. Here’s a shot looking east/southeast with Broken Top and Mt. Bachelor in the background….

Looking down to the Hodgecrest

After waiting around with a few other enthusiasts on the summit for the snow to to soften, we started our descent around 11:00. Buell and I took slightly different lines going down, so we didn’t get many good riding pictures. Buell headed down towards the Hodgecrest/Lewis Glacier, and I rode the Clark Glacier snowfield, then traversed around the mountain to drop into the big bowl above Green Lakes. The conditions were perfect Spring corn, and the terrain was excellent. Here’s a shot of me in the large bowl above Green Lakes, with Buell’s tracks visible to the right of the picture……

Riding the bowl above Green Lakes

The turns around the large lava flow above camp were really nice, even though a bit slushy….

Taking a break at the top of the lava flow

Back at camp, we cooked a quick lunch and then packed up the gear for the long skin out. We took a few photos of the skin out with the different volcanic peaks in the background…..

Buell heading out
Skinning out to the trailhead

After 2.5 hours of skinning downhill in “ski” mode on the splitboards, we finally made it to the car. Overall, this was a great trip and definitely worth repeating (and combining with a Broken Top ascent/descent)!

Back at the truck