Broken Top (Oregon Cascades; 9,175')



Broken Top, just East of South Sister, is a member of cluster of volcanos that include the Three Sisters and Mt. Bachelor. It is amazingly crumbly, with the notable exception of steep NW end of the summit pinnacle. The standard route up the pinnacle is rotten third class, but the variation (easy 5th class) climbs the edge of the pinnacle on solid rock in an amazing position. With a lot of snow cover the couloirs can be good snow climbs; without snow the NW Ridge is the only recommended route.

Topo Map

Routes: NW Ridge (I, Class 4)

Nine O'Clock Couloir (Grade II, Class 4, 45-degree snow)

NW Ridge Summit Pinnacle Variation (I, 5.2)

Broken Top in early July from around 8,800' on South Sister (photo credit: Jörg Rollbühler)
References: Jeff Thomas, Oregon High , Keep Climbing Press (Portland, OR 1991)
J. Smoot, Summit Guide to the Cascade Volcanoes , Chockstone Press (Evergreen, CO 1992)


Date: October 17, 2010

Party: DB solo

Route: NW Ridge, Summit Pinnacle Variation

Equipment: Climbing shoes

Note: Roundtrip time includes lounging at Green Lakes

Time: Trail Head - Green Lakes 1 hr 20 mins
Trailhead - Summit 3 hrs 45 mins
Roundtrip from Trailhead 8 hrs

Trip report:

A storm was coming and I figured this would be my last chance to go out this season in summer conditions. I picked Broken Top, and opted for the summit pinnacle variation that I had done with Paul a few years ago. It really is a lot nicer than the standard route, and I'm surprised it's not more popular. For some reason I was feeling tired that day, so on the way down I skipped the lower part of the ridge, which takes one to the giant spring at the north end of Green Lakes, and just ran down the trail from the notch. It was a nice trip, and the next day winter did indeed arrive in the high country.


Photo Gallery:

Click the thumbnails to see a higher resolution image


View of the Three Sisters from the notch in the NW Ridge.

The glacier remnant as seen from the base of the summit pinnacle.

South Sister above Green Lakes from the base of the summit pinnacle.

The lower part of the summit pinnacle. The variation goes up the skyline.

The summit pinnacle from high on the ridge.

The lower part of the NW Ridge as seen from the notch.

Broken Top from the pumice fields above Green Lakes.

Green Lakes.


For earlier ascents, click here .