Three Finger Jack & The Sisters

May 2-7 (Sisters, OR) —

After Mt. Hood, we headed to Sisters, Oregon to plot our attack on Three Finger Jack and the Sisters.  Although that sounds like a band from the 60s, they’re actually volcanoes in central Oregon.

We started by hiking Black Butte to take in the landscape.

Black_ButteTigger made it up the very rough gravel & rock road to the trailhead in Deschutes National Forest.  And Pancha enjoyed a walk near the start.

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The views were outstanding.

2013-05-02 Black Butte 013And there was even a bit of snow up top on the north-facing side.

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From the top, we scoped out Three Finger Jack and the southeast bowl that we wanted to ski:

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After the hike, we headed to the Three Finger Jack trail head and slept overnight in the Sno-Park across the street near the Hoodoo Ski Resort.  We started our approach at 8 am, but unfortunately, our GPS wonked out soon after we started.   We had driven straight from Mt. Hood the night before and failed to arrive in time to visit the local Ranger’s Station (which allseem to shut down earlier and earlier given budget cuts) to get a topographical map.  So we decided to turn back and try again the next day.

TFJ Attempt #2 began at 7:30 am.   It was a gorgeous morning.

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And the skin was pleasant through an old burn.2013-05-03 TFJ 003

The wind was blowing and kept the snow soft even as we started to clear the tree line.

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The good news is that the untracked snow in the southeast bowl looked awesome.

The bad news is that we didn’t make it there.  Again.

The approach was along a southern ridge that was heavily corniced on the eastern edge and the cornices were starting to disintegrate in the spring warmth.  Lots of cracks were starting to appear many feet back from the edge.  The route had also been heavily scoured by wind, creating lots of ups and downs (that I named rolly pollies).  It was tough slogging to go up and down steep rolly pollies with skins on our skis.  On top of that, the winds were starting to gust fiercely.


After a few thousand feet of fighting our way up, we decided to call it.   Three Finger Jack had brought us to our knees.  At least we got a good workout . . . .

As we left TFJ in the late afternoon, we started researching our approach to the Middle Sister, one of the classic ski descents in the Cascades, and decided to ski that the next day.

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However, as we drove toward the trailhead, we encountered a “Road Closed” sign in the Three Sisters National Forest.  After a bit of digging on the internet for an alternative approach, we learned that all roads to the trailhead were still closed due to a fire last Fall.

So, as usual, it was 6 pm and we hadn’t yet settled on a place to sleep for the night.  Nothing like planning ahead!   We decided to head back to the town of Sisters to stay at the lovely campground there and switch over to mountain biking for a few days.

Sisters has an impressive network of trails nearby and we thoroughly enjoyed them.

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Of course, pulling the mountain bikes from the back of our storage box meant we pretty much had to take everything out.   So I used the opportunity to annoy our neighbors in the campground by spreading all our gear across the grass and then applied my Tetris skills once more to fit it all back inside:

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Bikes and ski racks back in!
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We thoroughly enjoyed Sisters despite the three failed ski attempts.  Great little town in an ideal location surrounded by mountains.  We stopped off in Bend on our drive south, which has some great craft breweries, but decided we liked Sisters better as our home base in the area.

Off to Mount Shasta next!

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