2015-07-03-04 South Sister and Broken Top

Distance: 19.6 mi.
Elevation Gain: 8200 ft.

We met up with our friends who were living in California at the time (they’ve since moved back to Washington! Whoo!) at the Green Lakes Trailhead in Deschutes National Forest and hung our Interagency Annual Pass. We slept in our car in the parking lot and got started at 7:15 AM. It was a nice, easy-to-follow trail with some pretty cascades. We made it to Green Lakes around 9 AM and found a spot to set up camp.


Laura decided to stay back with the dogs while Brian, Craig and I headed northwest along scree and patches of snow toward South Sister.


Ascending South Sister. Broken Top and Green Lakes behind Vanessa

This isn’t the typical ascent route so there were no crowds until we hit the main trail at 9,000 feet after about an hour and a half of hiking from camp. We followed the main trail north to the rim for the final 1300 feet and followed around to the right (east) until we hit the true summit. There were lots of shenanigans going on on the summit for the 4th of July weekend, including inflatable pools and empty beer cans strewn about. We hung out on top for a bit and then made our return along the same route.

View from the summit of South Sister

The trail was dusty and steep so it required careful foot placement for the descent. We saw a few hikers nearly falling over from exhaustion on this climb, so be careful out there and bring lots of snacks and water.

Taking a breather on the hot, dusty trail to South Sister

We had a fun evening back at camp. The next morning, Craig and I decided to go up Broken Top. We started out at 8:30 AM. Considering how gnarly it looks from below, the trail up the ridge was pretty tame.

Northwest Ridge of Broken Top from below

We only hit a couple tiny patches of snow. It eventually came time to do one 4th class move and then a kind of sketchy traverse right (south) along the rim of the old crater, which had a faint boot path to follow. We curved back left (north) for the final ridge walk to the summit and reached the summit at 10:30 AM.

Crux 4th class move
Final ridge walk
Traversing back across the top of the crater on some crumbly rock

We retraced our steps and made it back to camp at 1 PM, passing a couple of groups heading up Broken Top. We packed up and made it back to the car around 3:30 PM. We stopped at one of our favorite breweries – Crux Fermentation Project – and found ourselves some sweet, sweet air conditioning for the evening 🙂

More photos
Download GPS track

(Download the free Gaia GPS app on your phone to view tracks and then get a Gaia GPS membership if you want offline access. Discount below!)


Recommended brew: Crux PCT Porter

Gear Used:

  • Backpacking tent
  • Gaiters
  • Glacier glasses
  • GPS
  • Helmet
  • Sleeping pad
  • Summer sleeping bag
  • Steel ice axe
  • Stove
  • Trail runners
  • Trekking poles
  • Water drops/filter


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