Skiing the Cascade Volcanoes
        Amar Andalkar's Ski Mountaineering and Climbing Site
Ski Mountaineering Photos & Trip Reports Equipment & Info Cascade Volcanoes Ring of Fire Site Map

Table of Contents | Introduction | Ratings | WebCams | Bibliography | Highest Volcanoes | Snowfall & Snowdepth | Monthly Chart | Conifers | Compare | Distance | Sun Chart
CALIFORNIA
  Lassen Peak
  Mount Shasta
  Medicine Lake Volcano
OREGON
  Mount McLoughlin
  Pelican Butte
  Crater Lake
  Mount Bailey
  Mount Thielsen
  Diamond Peak
  Newberry Volcano
  Mount Bachelor
  Broken Top
  Three Sisters
  Mount Washington
  Three Fingered Jack
  Mount Jefferson
  Mount Hood
WASHINGTON
  Mount Saint Helens
  Mount Adams
  Goat Rocks
  Mount Rainier
  Glacier Peak
  Mount Baker
BRITISH COLUMBIA
  Mount Garibaldi
  Mount Cayley
  Mount Meager



| South Sister from the southeast in June: the South Ridge
descends the left skyline, with the Lewis Glacier in the large bowl
below the summit; Middle Sister is visible at far right
(photo by Amar Andalkar)   <click to enlarge>

Three Sisters
    10358 ft (3158 m) .
Major Peaks:
South Sister:     10358 ft (3157 m)
Middle Sister:     10047 ft (3062 m)
North Sister:     10085 ft (3074 m)
Location: Cascade Range, central Oregon,
25 miles (40 km) W of Bend
Lat / Long: 44.1° N, 121.8° W
Volcanic Type: Stratovolcano / shield volcano complex
Volcanic Status: South Sister:   Dormant, last eruption 1900 years ago
Middle & North Sisters:   Extinct
First Ascent: South Sister:     Unknown, probably Native American
Middle Sister:   Unknown, before 1860's
North Sister:     Harley H. Prouty, 1910
First Ski Descent:
Skiable Vertical: over 5000 ft (1500 m)
Timberline: 7000-7500 ft (2150-2300 m)
Administration: Deschutes National Forest / Willamette National Forest
Protection Status:   Three Sisters Wilderness
User Fees: Northwest Forest Pass required for parking
(Sno-Park Permit from November-April)

    The volcanic peaks of the Three Sisters Wilderness dominate the landscape of central Oregon, visible from the Willamette Valley to the west and far across the high desert to the east. The Three Sisters are the highest and most prominent of the dozens of volcanoes which dot the Cascade Range between Mount Jefferson in northern Oregon and Mount Shasta in California, with each of the Sisters reaching the lofty 10,000-foot (3000 m) mark. The Three Sisters group is quite compact, as the summits of North, Middle, and South Sisters span a total distance of less than 5 miles (8 km), yet the peaks host over 15 glaciers including the largest in Oregon (by area), the Collier Glacier. The variety of volcanic features in the area is astounding, including the extensive lava fields and cinder cones reaching from North Sister to McKenzie Pass and the numerous obsidian flows along the south flanks of South Sister.
    The youngest, tallest, least eroded, and most climbed of the three peaks is South Sister, which offers several fine possibilities for summit ski ascents and descents, including the classic and popular South Ridge route. Superb summit ski descents can also be found on the north or southeast ridges of Middle Sister, which forms a perfect cone on its western half, but is missing its entire eastern half where glaciers have carved out a massive cirque. North Sister is the most eroded of the group, with the original conical surface now vanished and with a ridge of unstable (and unskiable) congealed magma pinnacles forming the true summit. However, a number of routes on North Sister are skiable from just below the rocky summit area. In addition, it is possible to make a grand traverse of the entire Sisters group, known as a Three Sisters Marathon, and the neighboring peaks of Broken Top and Mount Bachelor can also be included if three volcanoes isn't enough. Unfortunately, access to the group is very long in winter and early spring, since all roads which lead to the wilderness region are closed by the heavy snowfall. By late spring, day trips into the heart of the region become feasible as trailheads on several sides are plowed out.

Route Ratings Starting
Elevation
Elevation
Gain
Roundtrip
Distance
Notes
Quality Effort Ascent Descent
South Sister Ski Mountaineering Routes:  
South Ridge
  from Devils Lake

8.0
5400 ft
(1650 m)
5000 ft
(1500 m)
12 miles
(19 km)
Route info...
(See my ski trip report from June 1999.)                          
Green Lakes
  from Dutchman Flat
  (winter / spring access)

6.5
6300 ft
(1900 m)
+1200 ft
(+350 m)
-900 ft
(-250 m)
18 miles
(32 km)
Route info...
Prouty Glacier
  via Green Lakes

9.0
5400 ft
(1650 m)
5000 ft
(1500 m)
15 miles
(24 km)
Route info...
North Ridge
  from Pole Creek

9.0
5300 ft
(1600 m)
5100 ft
(1550 m)
16 miles
(26 km)
Route info...
Lost Creek Glacier
  from Pole Creek

11.0
5300 ft
(1600 m)
6000 ft
(1800 m)
20 miles
(32 km)
Route info...
Three Sisters Traverse
    South to north


13.0
5400 ft
(1650 m)
8400 ft
(2550 m)

19 miles
(30 km)
Route info...
    North to south
14.0
4800 ft
(1450 m)
9000 ft
(2550 m)
Middle Sister Ski Mountaineering Routes:  
Southeast Ridge
  from Pole Creek

8.5
5300 ft
(1600 m)
5100 ft
(1550 m)
15 miles
(24 km)
Route info...
Hayden Glacier
  to Hayden-Renfrew Saddle
    from Pole Creek



7.0


5300 ft
(1600 m)
4200 ft
(1300 m)
12 miles
(21 km)
Route info...
North Ridge
  via Hayden Glacier

8.0

5100 ft
(1550 m)
13 miles
(21 km)
Renfrew Glacier
  to Hayden-Renfrew Saddle
    from Frog Camp



8.0


4800 ft
(1450 m)
4400 ft
(1350 m)
14 miles
(22 km)
Route info...
Northwest Face
  via Renfrew Glacier

9.0

5300 ft
(1600 m)
15 miles
(24 km)
North Sister Ski Mountaineering Routes:   NOTE: All ratings are for ski routes only up to the base of the summit pinnacle.
South Face / SE Ridge
  from Pole Creek

7.5
5300 ft
(1600 m)
4300 ft
(1300 m)
12 miles
(19 km)
Route info...
Collier Glacier
  to Collier-Hayden Saddle
    from Frog Camp



7.5


4800 ft
(1450 m)
4000 ft
(1200 m)
14 miles
(22 km)
Route info...
Southwest Ridge
  via Collier Glacier

8.5

4800 ft
(1450 m)
15 miles
(24 km)
Villard Glacier
  from Pole Creek

7.5
5300 ft
(1600 m)
4300 ft
(1300 m)
12 miles
(19 km)
Route info...

Upcoming additions: Topographic map showing all ski routes.
Full page description and photos of South Sister South Ridge route.


| Middle (left) and North Sisters from the summit of South Sister,
with Mount Jefferson in the distance behind North Sister;
the southeast ridge of each Sister faces the camera
(photo by Amar Andalkar) <click to enlarge>

| Panoramic view of the Three Sisters (left, center) and Broken Top (right)
from the south near Sparks Lake in June
(photo by Amar Andalkar) <click to enlarge>

Useful Web Links:

Deschutes National Forest: Home Page
Deschutes National Forest: Recreation Report
Deschutes National Forest: Three Sisters Wilderness
Willamette National Forest: Home Page
Willamette National Forest: Three Sisters Wilderness
National Weather Service Office: Portland, OR
The Weather Channel: Sisters, OR, Forecast
USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory: Three Sisters
Deschutes NF, Oregon Volcanoes: North Sister, Middle Sister, South Sister


List of Guidebooks:  (detailed references on the bibliography page)

Oregon Descents S or SE ridges on each peak, plus N Ridge of Middle (skiing info)
Oregon High All summit routes(detailed climbing info)
Climbing the Cascade Volcanoes Most summit routes(climbing info)


More photos, routes, links, references, etc. coming soon...
Please contact me with any suggestions, additions, or corrections.


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Table of Contents | Introduction | Ratings | WebCams | Bibliography | Highest Volcanoes | Snowfall & Snowdepth | Monthly Chart | Conifers | Compare | Distance | Sun Chart
Ski Mountaineering Photos & Trip Reports Equipment & Info Cascade Volcanoes Ring of Fire Site Map

Amar Andalkar   Seattle, WA, USA   <About the Author / Contact Me>
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