Mountain Project Logo

Seeking beta to climb and ski Oregon volcanoes

Original Post
ElGreco · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 220

Hi Oregonians,

I am based in central California and am planning a personal challenge for my 40th next spring. Defiance of age/time, if you like. I am thinking of climbing and skiing 40,000ft in 40 days. Looks like it will be an epic spring skiing season this year...

It looks like doing a few trips to the Oregon volcanoes is worthwhile. I am particularly interested in McLoughlin, Jefferson, Hood, Bachelor and the 3 Sisters (ideally the "marathon").

If anyone can offer some advice on logistics (trailheads, timing, routes, let me know. I've done my research, but it would be good to get some advice from locals on a couple of things.

Thanks in advance.

mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

When are you planning on going? I'm assuming you know you can take a lift to the top of Bachelor?

JaWiB · · Eugene, OR · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 0

Don't know that I can add much that you won't find online, but I will say that north sister looks pretty scary to me. I watched my friends climb it in the spring while I did laps on middle sister and there were rocks constantly raining down on all sides of the mountain. Then again a couple weeks earlier they had been caught in a storm and got their rope stuck while they descended with rime ice forming on everything (hence the sketchy return trip to retrieve the rope).

I imagine you'll have a better time this season than I did last season with the low snow pack. You might add diamond peak to your list if you're going to be in the area at some point. Assuming the roads are cleared of downed trees and snow, it's a fairly easy day trip (from Eugene/Oakridge) and doesn't get quite as much traffic as some of the other mountains.

FoamFinger _______ · · Rad Town, Not set (USA) · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 250

Hi there,
If you want the definitive beta on Oregon SkiMo check out and read old dudes trip reports. This guy basically wrote the book on PNW Ski mountaineering.
As for our Snowpack we are having a banner season here in Central Oregon so be well prepared for a late season. We also have some significant instability in our snowpack right now that may persist well into the Spring as more snow is loaded onto these weak layers.
Another great resource to check out for local beta is the Central Oregon Avalanche Association's website for snowpack reports.
Conditions permitting I am planning on doing the Three Sisters Traverse in late March, if you are around and want to rally let me know! Awesome website!

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 162

No offense man, but you asked for general beta on 7 different mountains, with no specific questions. I can think of like 8-10 different lines on Hood that are reasonable skimo objectives, and there are more lines than that in the 3 Sisters region (and even more if you consider Broken Top). I wouldn't expect anybody is going to type out descriptions and directions for 20+ possible routes.

Are you looking to do any technical climbing or just walk-ups? Is glacier travel with crevasse hazard ok? How steep do you want to ski?

ElGreco · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 220

Thanks for the replies so far, guys.

@Kyle Terry, maybe "beta" wasn't the right term. I was looking for more general pointers such as: "ski the lower peaks in April or before", or "for Bachelor you need to wait till the lifts shut down, which is usually by...", or "the best direction for the 3 Sisters marathon is, and you start from trailhead X".

I wasn't expecting detailed beta on all routes on each mountain! I am not looking for the gnar. Black diamond + ratings and lower on this website are fine. I want to clock vertical and have fun, not drop into the sickest lines. Suggestions on good routes to look into are welcome. I am experienced with glaciers, but I may be doing some of these solo, so I am not seeking them out.

@JaWiB, yeah, I hear that North Sister is a choss pile, but hopefully early season during a high snow year should not pose rockfall problems.

@Mediocre, optics aside, can you skin up Bachelor when the lifts are running? Is it allowed, or is there a part of the mountain that is not served by lifts that you can ascend?

@Foamfinger, when do you expect spring corn at its best on the Sisters? Isn't late March early?

Thanks again.

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 162

North Sister isn't any more of a choss pile than the rest of the Oregon volcanoes. That isn't a very high bar to clear, but my point is you shouldn't be especially worried about that particular peak. I climbed it last June via the east face and it wasn't that atrocious. However, it is the most technical of the 3 Sisters (by a significant margin); I don't know your climbing experience/desire, but you might want to consider skipping that one. There are some portions that many parties use a rope on.

Normally, the 3 Sisters marathon is started from the North, in order to get the technical climbing done early. Lots of trip reports about that one if you look around.

South Sister could easily be skied on the normal ascent route, the SE side to Green Lakes, and probably several other faces. Middle has some good opportunities on the Hayden (NE side) and probably on the Renfrew too, but I haven't been on that side and the approach is worse.

For Hood, if you're going solo and don't want to ski anything really steep, you're probably relegated to the South Side (standard) route, and Cooper Spur. Depending on your gnarl factor you probably won't want to ski the upper Cooper, but the lower portion should be a non-issue. You'll probably get a lot of elevation that time of year, as the closed road means starting at 4000 ft.

christoph benells · · tahoma · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 235

Jefferson and Three sisters is too much walking, not enough skiing. Nice wilderness though if you need that sort of thing.

I would do Shasta, Adams, Hood, Rainier. Do a couple routes on each of them. 40 days is not that long when you consider weather and driving time.

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 162

Yeah I was completely ignoring Jefferson, that's more of a ski tour than anything else, especially with trailheads possibly closed that time of year. SUPER scenic in there, but you are going to spend a lot of time going flat-ish. Not sure about solo ski decent routes either, although that early you might be safe on the Whitewater and lower Jeff Park.

ElGreco · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 220

I don't know, guys. I haven't calculated it myself, but I gather the 3 Sisters Marathon gains about 10,000ft. As for Jefferson, it looks like 12-18mi for 6,000-7,000ft of vertical:…

Point well taken about maximizing vertical and saving time. But I've never seen that part of the world. A few extra miles won't hurt.

Regarding timing, has anyone read this?…

It seems that he's talking about higher elevation trips, or further North. So would late April-early May be a reasonable target for spring corn on the 9,000-11,000ft volcanoes?

Max Tepfer · · Bend, OR · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 1,630
christoph benells wrote:Jefferson and Three sisters is too much walking, not enough skiing. Nice wilderness though if you need that sort of thing.
This is simply not true. (granted both this statement and mine are subjective) For the marathon you want to start at Pole Creek and traverse North to South. As has been said, the North Sister is a "big scary mountain," so plan accordingly. Late April-early May is good timing and you might be able to go later this year with the amount of snow we've gotten.
ElGreco · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 220

Thank you, Max. Is the Pole Creek trailhead open during the snowy months, or do you have to wait for it or skin the additional distance?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply