South Sister in the Sweetwaters

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Vaca Russ
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South Sister in the Sweetwaters

Post by Vaca Russ » Mon Jul 02, 2018 2:54 pm

South Sister is one of the Sisters in the Sweetwater Range just north of Bridgeport.

All 5 peaks in the Sweetwaters are on the Ogul list. Wheeler and Paterson can be approached from the south and East Sister and Middle Sister can be approached from the north.

But South Sister…she is a difficult, long approach. And I am lazy. I studied the maps and devised a plan to drive in from the west. I could see roads on the satellite pictures and planned my trip.

You can drive south on 395 to Holbrook junction, turn east on 208 past Wellington and then follow 338 to Risue canyon road.

This is a picture of the Sweetwaters right about at the 338 / Risue Road junction.
1 Sisters.jpg
Just a little more than 7 miles on Risue Canyon Road you can turn south on a road paralleling Jackass Creek.

There is a sign there warning of some trouble ahead.
3 Taylor Valley Road.jpg
I can tell this sign says no regular low clearance sedans, no 2 WD trucks even if they are high clearance. But what is the story with the jeep?
4 Not Recommended Sign.jpg
Does that say “You can drive a jeep, but it is not recommended”??

Here is the map of my journey.
2 map.jpg
The road was pretty rough but I have a secret weapon.
5 Secret Weapon.jpg
The Tacoma got me over eight miles into the wilderness and could have gone farther (thus closer to South Sister) but I caught a glimpse of some color out of the side of my eye.
6 Sign Uprooted.jpg
7 Sign Better.jpg
Well, I guess the Tacoma can cool her heels. Oh well! My plan was to climb the mountain not 4 wheel there. I set up camp and settled down for the night. You may be able to see my camp in this picture.
8 Camp.jpg
The plan was to hike up this “Off Limit to vehicle” road to the plateau at about 9700 feet and then climb straight to the summit using a trail one can see from the satellite pictures.
9 Map2.jpg
This plan was executed the next morning. The Sweetwaters are quite an enchanting place, especially this time of year. The streams are still flowing…
10 Stream Nice.jpg
To be continued…
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"...Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host and then a master?"

Kahil Gibran.






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Vaca Russ
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Re: South Sister in the Sweetwaters

Post by Vaca Russ » Mon Jul 02, 2018 2:59 pm

12 Nice Stream.jpg
..and the wildflowers! This is what climber Bob M. (Peakbagger.com and OGUL completion vet) wrote, “The wildflower displays were spectacular and highly aromatic, featuring blue and white lupine, wild iris, paintbrush and many others. Shades of Oz.”

The summit of South Sister comes into view after about three miles.
13 SS Summit.jpg
This is a picture of the plateau to the west of the summit.
14 Plateau.jpg
The Trail leading to the summit can be seen on the satellite pictures.

“The morning sun when it's in your face really shows your age”
15 Summit Block Trail.jpg
“…but that don’t worry me none in my eyes you’re everything”

-RS

The trail up the summit block was described by Bob M. as…
16 Summit Block Trail Up.jpg
“South Sister's northwest slope proved to be a tedious climb through a devilish mixture of scree and flat, thin -- almost two-dimensional -- talus. I learned that flat talus is easy to walk on at a low slope, but very difficult as it approaches the angle of repose, where the slabs glide easily over each other, due to lack of friction. It was slow going, kicking steps and trying to rearrange the slabs into more stable configurations.

Occasionally, I was able to climb what appeared to be a fairly solid rib, usually consisting of thin, vertical pieces of talus, but it was actually pretty rotten rock. (As I later learned from the false-summit, each slab apparently starts its journey almost vertically before flaking off to join its numerous brethren down below.) A couple of the ribs got into low-class 3 climbing. The climbing was a little nerve racking, wondering whether each hold was solid enough to withstand my weight.”

I am happy to copy and paste his description. My description would have been, “It was a PITA”.

From the summit looking east…
17 Looking East.jpg
Looking south
18 Patterson and Wheeler.jpg
Looking west
19 Plateau From Above.jpg
I noted these blue butterflies doing what they do on the hike back to the Tacoma.
20 Blue Butterflies.jpg
These are Bob’s stats from Risue Road north of East Sister.

“Stats: 16.3 miles. 5,400 feet gain. About 10h30.”

This is what a Tacoma can do for you.
21 Milage.jpg
One last tip from Bob. He reported that he, “…Narrowly avoiding the Wellington speed trap”

Great TIP!! I saw the NHP had a driver pulled over on the drive in and he was waiting for me on the drive out. I did 21 in a 25 because I always follow the speed limit…when I am warned of a speed trap!

Thanks for reading my post!

-Russ

PS: One more thing. There is no pencil or pen in the register. I was not able to make an entry.
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"...Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host and then a master?"

Kahil Gibran.

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rightstar76
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Re: South Sister in the Sweetwaters

Post by rightstar76 » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:07 pm

Went to the Sweetwater Mountains once. I drove from Wellington south along NV 338 to just before Sweetwater Summit. I turned west and drove as far up the canyon as I could before my passenger vehicle was blocked by a fast moving creek. I then walked west up the canyon and into a Jeffrey pine forest. It was an El Nino year so everything was lush and green. One of these days I'll have to go back.

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