Ascent of North Sister on 2016-07-30

Climber: Austin D. Smith

Others in Party:Mark Smith -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Date:Saturday, July 30, 2016
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:North Sister
    Elevation:8785 ft / 2677 m

Ascent Trip Report

We tried to make an attempt at the 3 Sisters marathon but unfortunately it ended in complete, utter failure. 9 days previous I was standing atop the summit of Gannett Peak, my hardest climb to date. This didn't help. To make matter worse, we had gotten molested by swarms of thick mosquitoes that didn't seem to mind the 100% deet, 3 layers of clothes and full face mosquito net shield. I got bit around 30 times, which was pretty good given the shear quantity of those stupid bugs. I feel as though both my Dad and I got sick from those bites.

To further contribute to the problem, we were late getting to the TRHD. We were headed to Poll Creek which was to be our start location. We planned to get up at 4AM so we were already down to about 6 hours of sleep at this point. Now, my Dad and I have been fully accustom to a hard days work, followed by little sleep, and then a hard summit day so given we hadn't worked at all and we were still going to be getting decent sleep, this shouldn't have posed a problem.

Unfortunately, as fate would have it, we came around a corner to a decent sized forest fire burning right off the road! We immediately turned around and drove till we got cell service and called 911. I think they may been scarred from the previous Poll Creek fire as "(Road Name)...forest fire burning...Pole Creek Trailhead" seemed to be a key trigger sentence for them. 911 dispatch told us to wait 10 minutes for the forest service fire department to call us back and get more info. Well after about 9 minutes, a small forest fire truck came flying up the road...they weren't going to let this one get out of control. Its good they showed up when they did as the fire has grown at least 2x in size and was beginning to work up a few trees. Talked to the fire crews on our way back from our climb and they told us it was some campers who didn't properly put out their fire. We all know what this means...more forest restrictions! Yay!

Anyway, we finally crawled into our bags around 10:45. The next morning, we felt absolutely destroyed. We decided to go for it anyway. We progressively became more and more tired and disoriented. We lost the faint and hard to follow climbers trail. That takes off from the Pole Creek Trail about 1.5 miles up the trail. I found it odd that both my dad and I felt this bad, especially after being extremely well activated and feeling great pushing a hard pace at 12,000 9 days previous. The only thing we could think of that was causing us to feel the worst we have ever felt on a mountain (at the pathetic elevation of 8700' no less) was getting sick from mosquito bites on Gannett or Taco Bell.

Eventually at around 11:00, it was obvious we had no chance of getting all three, as we needed to be on the summit of North at this point. We kept feeling worse and worse and decided to can the hike, especially given we have previously climbed all three Sisters, and go for a few small summits around the Smith Rock area.

My dad, Mark Smith, was the navigator on this trip. If you send him a message, he will happily provide you with some excellent beta and route finding navigation if your planning to do the Sisters Marathon starting from pole creek.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3905 ft / 1190 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3905 ft / 1190 m
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3905 ft / 1190 m
    Route:Pole Creek Trail - Cross Country
    Start Trailhead:Pole Creek TRHD  4880 ft / 1487 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3905 ft / 1190 m
    End Trailhead:Pole Creek TRHD  4880 ft / 1487 m

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