arrived at Devil's
Lake Trailhead at around 11:00PM on a Friday Night after making the
four hour drive from Portland to the Bend area. We'd stopped off
at a pub in Bend for some good trail food: Pizza! At 11:00PM, we
calculated that we could sleep for three hours and get going at 2:00AM
to summit sometime in the late morning. We snoozed in the car
and at 2:00, we were up and raring' to go!
were all packed up, with ice axe, crampons, snowboards and snowboard
boots strapped onto our little (2800 sq.in.) Redwing packs. We
headed up the trail in the dark, finding it quite hard to follow.
Immediately we crossed over a stream on a footbridge, and ended up at
a culvert and a flooded stream by the foot of the road. We
hopped up onto the road and looked around for the trail marker across
the street. It was marked by a lone, unmarked wood post up the
street a ways. We followed the path into the woods and found the
climbers permit station where we signed in for our self-issued permits
(required). Almost immediately we found the trail impossible to
distinguish. There was no path, and in the intermittent snow
patches, there were no footprints. The moon was behind the
clouds and we were having much difficulty navigating on the trail.
On hindsight, we should just have set a compass bearing and shot
through the woods, but we wanted to stay on the trail just in case.
Finally we made it out of the woods, and climbed up a steep hill onto
a snow field. The route wound around Moraine Lake (still frozen
and snow-covered) and proceeded over an endless
flat stretch, where we actually lost elevation over about two miles.
We finally arrived at the foot of the mountain, and began the snow
slog. The weather was beautiful, but we had fumbled around
finding the trail so long that the sun had already risen by the time
we reached timberline, which was disappointing. The snow had
dissipated a lot since last month, and the previously covered
mountain, now was considerably bare. The trail was still
snow-covered up until around 7,000 feet, and the snow was getting
soft. We reached the end of the snow field and decided to hit
the cinder-coated ridge for the remainder of the climb. The
trail up this mountain is awful. It is poorly marked, poorly
maintained, and is long, ugly and generally unpleasant. I would
never make a summertime attempt on this mountain. There are
fantastic views to be had many places throughout the area, and with
much better trails.
around 8,800 feet, we reached the crater, where we found the lake
intact. There were several large, open crevasses on the Lewis
Glacier to the right as we continued on. The weather was
starting to move in, as Mt. Bachelor and Broken Top, once clear and
towering over the trail, were now becoming lost in dark, black, Nimbus
clouds. The summit of South Sister was still clear, however, so
we pressed on. The snow was now almost nonexistent, and we
dropped our snowboards and continued to the top. Within about
200 feet of the top, clouds began to engulf the summit. We hear
thunder claps in the distance as the storm began to roll in.
Another climber passed by and said that he couldn't see anything from
the top, and we decided that no view wasn't worth the risk of that
storm hitting us on top of the mountain. As lightning strikes
became visible past Mt. Bachelor, we hurried down the mountain.
strapped on our snowboards at the top of the snowfield, and headed
down. Sandra had a little difficulty getting started
with the weight on her back, and ran over a rock, bruising her
backside. We ran out the slope, which ended far too quickly, and
packed up the boards and put on rain gear just as the hailstorm
reached us. Lightning flashed nearby, and hail thundered down as
we fought our snowboards, which no longer wanted to be strapped to our
Finally, we were on the move again, disappointed in the near summit.
We trudged over the flat snowfield, and looked over our shoulder.
The summit was now crystal clear with no clouds, and the hailstorm
moved on. It figured... We again lost the trail, and
followed the GPS back to the car. Once in the woods, the trail
became easy to see now, as many people had come and gone since we
arrived that morning. We later lost the trail again, but just
headed south until we hit the road.
trail was not technical at all, except for one section where we had to
traverse across an exposed slope, just a long trudge through
soft snow and scree. The route was poor for snowboarding, as it
had many ups and downs, and long flat stretches in between downhill
runs. We were very disappointed in the quality and visibility of
the trail, and the mountain after the snow melts, is quite ugly.
The views from the south side were nice, with Broken Top and Mt.
Bachelor right there, Mt. McLoughlin, Mt. Thielsen, and even the top
of Mt. Shasta were visible from the trail, and from the top, Mt.
Jefferson, Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Middle Sister, North
Sister, Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams are quite visible (we've heard),
creating quite a panorama. Perhaps we'll try Middle Sister in
winter and see what the view holds, but the trail on South Sister was
view our photos of our trip, click on the link below.