This weekend I returned to the Sisters Wilderness for my fifth climb on Middle Sister, located in the Central Oregon Cascades. We started at the Pole Creek Trailhead and hiked about 4.5 miles to our base camp near the base of the Hayden Glacier. It is a grand place to set up camp as Broken Top and the Three Sister formed an arc around us. Looking West could see our route on the far right of the glacier, that led to a saddle, with Middle Sister on the left and Prouty Point on the right.
All of that was obscured by the cover of darkness when we departed from camp at 4am. The sky was studded with stars as I led the group up a valley to the foot of the glacier. As we donned our climbing harnesses and roped up it started to lighten up, revealing the grandeur surrounding us. The snow was just right, so we did not need to put on our crampons. At the saddle our two rope teams clipped out of the rope and ascended up the snow free North Ridge. While it is just a walk up, the loose scree was mentally and physically demanding. About 9:05 am we were at the fifth highest point in Oregon.
I chose Middle Sister since I climbed here last year in similar conditions. The big exception was the lack of snow of the North Ridge and the fact that it was my show to lead this time. I felt fortunate to have good weather and a good team along with me on this climb. And I did observe signs of teamwork, such as those supporting those who were new to climbing up scree or helping someone remember how to clip through a running belay. To be part of a functional team is a very meaningful experience to me.
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