Lane County High Point Trip Report

South Sister (10,358 ft)

Date: August 12, 2003
Author: Adam Helman

A Cascadian volcano accompanied by two sister peaks immediately north. The "climber's route" is more efficiently accessed from the Devil's Lake trailhead (TH) than from the Green Lakes trailhead: elevation gain is similar (over 4,800 feet), but the distance hiked through the forest is less from Devil's Lake TH.

Not realizing this until after I had paid for my Forest Service pass, I started at 5:11 a.m. from the Green Lakes trailhead. The Upper Moraine Lake Trail is closed for now, so the only way to access the climber's route, having started from the Green Lakes TH, is to take the Lower Moraine Lake Trail as it winds around the south shore of Moraine Lake, prior to hooking up with the trail ascending more directly from the Devil's Lake TH. There are some areas around Moraine Lake designated for camping.

At this time of year the climber's route was entirely snow-free, a problem since the scree underfoot could be quite nasty at times. The battle against gravity begins when the trail steepens at about 7,200 feet after having passed Moraine Lake to the east. The battle continues until the crater rim is reached at 10,200 feet. The worst scree sections occur at 8,500 to 8,800 feet immediately prior to "topping out" near the base of the Lewis Glacier; and from 9,500 to 10,200 feet prior to the accessing the crater rim.

The rim walk counterclockwise to the very tippy top consumes only ten to fifteen minutes. A trail allows one to circumnavigate the entire crater, passing by the beautiful, azure Teardrop Lake visible from the very summit, i.e. not from where one tops out on the crater rim above the scree slog. The lake alone is worth the extra walk to the tippy-top.

Some photographs of South Sister are available.

I was down by about 3:30 p.m. - having taken longer than otherwise due to a pre-dawn navigation error, that saw me initially heading towards the Green Lakes camping area because I had missed the junction west towards Moraine Lake.