Middle Sister (10,047 Feet) - Diller Headwall
May 14-15, 2009

Photos and story by Jason Hummel

There is no action without reaction,
There are only sensory strings swarming my mind,
The smell of broken rocks acrid whiff,
The quenched thirst from a mountains liquid vase,
The sound of nothing human born - only nature,
The masquerade of wind and snow embodied together
in form and function..

- Jason Hummel

Day One: A mid-day hike to camp

"The weather sucks up here, you wanna go south?" Christy was down for heading on another trip like our last to Mount Shasta. We anticipated beautiful corn snow and wondrous mountains to which neither of us had visited. What we didn't expect was rain (see photo above for reference) or worse yet, falling snow! "Christy, it's snowing." Duh. But everything was going to work out. The sun would make a showing and that's all we could hope for.

The Pole Creek approach is easy enough, say if you had a map for instance? Sans that, a snowbound trail greeted us no more than a half mile in. Any hint of a trail beyond that was thanked for but unnecessary. Between clouds we had caught a glimpse of the mountain! But that was thwarted by even thicker clouds and more of that white stuff we love so much. Problem was, our meandering trail through the woods back to the trailhead was getting covered in snow. Better be safe, so we camped next to a creek, which by god was right where the trail crossed. Luck is granted to the less fortunate and we were feeling that way, but morning would change that.

Morning Day 2 - Climb of Middle sister and Diller Headwall Descent

If you told me it was going to be bluebird the following day, I would 'a strapped you to my pack and carried you to the top of the mountain. After gathering gear, heading up along a creek, then traversing, we were brought into the great wide open where views of Oregon's best were open for business. Holly smokes, we were lovin' life. Now what to do? There was so much, but we had come out of the woods below Middle Sister, so looking up I thought the ridge would go, so I climbed to a pass with Christy just behind. From there I mounted the ridge and continued up a few steeper bulges on terrible snow until I stood on the summit. If that was a bit fast, then look at the pictures. Not much I can say beyond that about the climb?

Now how 'bout the descent? "Christy, do you want to ski the ridge or go down the Diller Headwall?" She considered it for a micro second, looked down and I knew she was up for it. Josh had told me, "Don't kill my girlfriend." It was a bit gut wrenching then to watch her dive into the first few turns. The snow was grabby slop over refrozen, glazed ice. Awesome. Schools in mid quarter, let's go for extra credit. She dove into another turn and began to slide. Whoa! But all the crappy wrecks she's had kept her sharp. She was back on her toes lickedy split. No more of that.

The Diller Headwall is a fun route with slopes of 40-45 degrees and has a nice fall line. After looking over the mountain on my climb, this appears to be the best route. Other than that the South and North Sisters looked awesome. I wanted to go get more, but my 'Wise' half cut in and got the better of me. The day was too warm and the new snow was unhappy with it's position and was itching to reunite with the trees and rivers below. I wasn't so apt for coupling, so I joined Christy beneath giant cliffs and then skied down a ridge. We found our way down to be fun, albeit, sticky. Reaching camp we un-enjoyably reversed our tracks, which, thank god, where still recognizable under the thin coat of snow that had fallen that night.

Back at the car, we wanted to stay longer and do more, but responsibility pulled us back home. It turns out 'South' can bring better weather and even good skiing, you just have to have a tiny bit of faith. We sure did, and the Sisters, they will be getting more visits from us, that's for sure.

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