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The Three Sisters
Broken Top

Overall Description:

   The Three Sisters region is the quintessential alpine area.  There are 5 peaks over 9,000 feet, including North Sister, Middle Sister, South Sister, Broken Top, and Bachelor Butte, as well as a host of lesser summits.  Interspread throughout are innumerable high lakes, streams, meadows, and forests, most of which have been protected within the boundaries of The Three Sisters Wilderness.

   Since 5 prominent mountains sit in close proximity to one another, the term Three Sisters is technically incorrect.  Very likely the name originated in the Willamette Valley, where only 3 of the 5 summits can be seen.

   Climbers have developed an unusual form of torture called the Three Sisters Marathon.  The goal is to try and reach the summits of at least North Sister, Middle Sister, and South Sister in a single 24-hour period.  Traditionally the Marathon begins at Sunshine.

   The first Marathon took place on August 8, 1931, when Cliff Stalsberg, Ed Johnson, and Don Woods climbed the North, Middle, and South Sister in one day.  At least 2 parties had tried a similar feat before, Emil Nordeen, Nels Skjersaa, Frank Haner, and Richard Guinee tried in 1926, and L.M. (Mace) Baldwin, Kent Shoemaker, and Frank J. Simpson tried in 1929.  Both parties were unable to finish.

   The game continues, but the ante has been steadily raised.  Don Kohler, Lloyd Plaisted, and Jim Newsom added Little Brother on August 31, 1952.  Steve Shaefers and Gary Grimm added Broken Top in June 1970.  The most recent record I could find is a six-peak marathon, which includes Mt. Bachelor!  This was first accomplished in 24 hours by Dale Moon and Ben Ross on July 18, 1970 with the aid of a car from Broken Top roadhead to Mt. Bachelor.

   Gary Kirk, Gary Grimm, Steve Shaefers, and Dale Moon added a winter version of the Three Sisters Marathon in 1969.  The Four Peaks Ski Mountaineering Expedition started from Bachelor Butte on day 1 and ended at the McKenzie Highway on day seven.  The Expedition reached the summits of Broken Top, South Sister, and Middle Sister.  The party was not able to complete the final 300 feet of North Sister. 

Interesting Excerpts From Summit Journals:

   We passed six lakes, four of them being between the mountains we called Three Sisters, though I am at a loss which of the five peaks are the Three Sisters.   –Adolph Dekum showing his confusion during an 1883 trip through the Sisters