Contact us

 Activities  Climbing Instruction 

Middle Sister, Obsidian Trail and Renfrew Glacier Route

We took the scenic route up the Middle Sister - through the Sunshine meadows, past the Minnie Scott Spring, up and down the Renfrew Glacier - and enjoyed camping for two nights at 7,650' with a northern view of Mount Washington through Mount Hood.

The boys were short-roped on the Renfrew with forty feet of 8 mm cord. In our running shoes we discovered going up that the glacier had a number of mushy spots. On the way down we took a long, winding path to keep our feet drier. The snow field near the summit was small enough we were able to get around it on the rock with a bit of care.

Benjamin was feeling sick on summit day, the probable result of eating too many fruit roll ups. But he was determined to summit this trip or come back next week to do so. Due to taking it easy for Ben, we made the summit about an hour and half later than planned, but still in plenty of time to return to camp before dark.

Peter took over cooking and cleaning this trip, for which I said, "Thank you very much. I really do appreciate it. Plan on doing the cooking in the future."

A number of characteristics of the climb - fewer days of food and fuel, water in camp instead of having to melt snow, and unusually warm conditions - conspired to reduce my pack weight to fifty-five pounds from the previous norm of about eighty pounds for a kids' climb. The trekking poles I use when packing heavy loads were just a nuisance with only fifty-five pounds. Fortunately the boys each agreed to use one pole so I didn't have to suffer the poles after the first half mile.

While it was quite warm down in the valley, the only time we noticed the heat was when returning to camp the second evening. The water in a couple of three-liter Nalgene canteens in the tent was warm enough for a shower and I used one for that purpose.

Minus wet feet from a mushy glacier and too many fruit roll ups, it would have been a perfect trip. Besides the comfortable conditions and great views, the memorable moments were that we followed bear tracks in the snow up to camp (hmm), and the descent of the Renfrew Glacier, the rope team from hell. The boys, below me on the rope, were intent on pulling me over. Having foreseen the possibility, I was wearing crampons. They were not. Although they failed, it did not seem to diminish their fun.


Santiam Alpine Club


E-mail group

GPS routes


Membership application

Member info update

Mountain climbing sites

Rope locker

Site map

Trip reports

Club officers


Mountain climbing school

Rock climbing at Smith Rock

Glacier travel and crevasse rescue

Ice climbing

Mountain Climbing School Manual

Mountain climbing terms