Skimo Co
SkyRun

Three Sisters Traverse

Distance

25.00

Effort

Difficult

Exposure

Mild

Description

What is better than skiing a Cascade volcano? How about three volcanoes? The Three Sisters Traverse is perhaps the classic Oregon ski traverse, just outside of Bend, OR. It traverses across three high volcanoes, crossing glaciers and the beautiful Cascade forests, offering lofty views of nearly the entire state of Oregon. In the springtime, it makes for a plentiful, tasty corn harvest. This tour can be done in a long day or a nice multi-day trip. 

It measures out at a healthy 25 miles and 10.5k' of gain. 

Begin at the Pole Creek Trailhead or as far up it as you can drive. Skin through burned trees towards Middle Sister before turning right and climbing up the south face of North Sister. To continue above 9700 ft is technical climbing, so most skiers stop here and ski back down. Then cross to the North/Middle saddle and boot up the easy North Ridge of Middle. Then enjoy a long south-facing descent towards the snow-covered Chamber Lakes. From here, begin the long boot up the NW Ridge of South Sister. Cross the summit crater and begin a long descent off the south side of South Sister. There are flat sections to skate and many different ways to reach the snowmobile road, but it is probably fastest to stay west of Devil's Hill and hit the road as quickly as possible. From here, it is just a 6-mile gradual uphill skin back to the Dutchman Flats parking lot. Ouch!

Keep in mind that some parts of this route are glaciated and have the inherent risk of crevasse danger. Whether or not to rope up is a personal decision that should be carefully considered. 

Approach

Start at the Pole Creek Trailhead after dropping a car on the Dutchman Flats Sno-Park. One can usually drive to the Pole Creek Trailhead sometime in April to May, as the east side melts out quickly.

Crux

The mental crux is most definitely the 6 mile skin uphill to end the day. If you can arrange a snowmobile tow, more power to you.

Local Beta

Although you might be able to access Pole Creek in April, if you want to ski corn off the tops of the volcanoes, April is usually too early. Instead you will just find icy chickenheads. May to June provides better skiing off the top, but you might have poor coverage down low or be relegated to hiking the plowed, but still gated, road to Dutchman Flats. Pick your poison.

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