Little Sister - 10717'
44.1587°N / 113.1469°W
Big Sister - 10954'
44.1667°N / 113.1285°W
April 17, 2010
Little Sister Summit Snack

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For this year’s IdahoSummits spring outing, Dan chose a peak named Little Sister, located in the Lemhi Range of eastern Idaho. What makes the peak a great destination, is that its positioned on the main Lemhi crest midway between Bell Mountain and Diamond Peak, a couple of Idaho’s A-list peaks. Needless to say, the summit views are fantastic.

After a nice warm-up hike on Friday afternoon with Steve and Splattski, we made our way back towards Mud Spring and a nice campsite we’d found earlier in the day. It was a perfect spot for a group of our size, which eventually reached a grand total of 14 folks. That evening, we had a great time trading banter and stories around the campfire, which is always a highlight of Dan’s outings.

The next morning I hit the trail at 5:15 with Michael and Splattski. We wanted the early start to ensure we had time to summit both Little Sister and Big Sister, and maybe even go for a Baugher Homerun if conditions allowed. The day before, we’d chosen our line up the east side of Little Sister. In the dark, it took us a while to get on route, but we made pretty decent pace early on, even with the skies spitting snow on us. But then we reached the snowline and things slowed down. We put on snowshoes, and it wasn’t bad at first, but soon enough the crust wasn’t strong enough to support our weight. John did most of the trail breaking, and Michael pointed out that he looked a lot like the Incredible Hulk on a sidewalk, with the slabs of snow being too weak to support his weight. On the bright side, there was now a nice trench broken for the rest of the group to follow.

As we continued through the fog, we experience a constant series of cracking and slab dropping. Most of the terrain wasn’t likely to slide, but there was one large crack that formed right in front of us while on a more open slope. This got our attention pretty quick, and we made our way back to the trees and gentler terrain. At about 10200’, we enjoyed crossing a neat corniced ridge with steep drops to the north. Soon enough we were on the final stretch to the summit, which was engulfed in fog.

It was about 9:30 when we reached the summit of Little Sister and stopped for a snack. The poor snow conditions put the kibosh on our homerun plans, but with our head start we still had time to head over to Big Sister. The clouds cleared briefly to help us get our bearings, and we were on our way. After a 600’ drop and 900’ climb, we made it to the summit of Big Sister at 11:00. The fog prevented any views, so we just took a couple photos and headed back where we came from. On our way back, the fog began to lift and gave us some awesome blue skies. As we neared the summit of Little Sister (for the second time today), we could see that the other group had already arrived.

The views from Little Sister were excellent, and we soaked in up-close views of both Bell and Diamond while taking photos and having a snack. It was a great time. We reluctantly began the descent, not wanting to leave the views behind. On the way down, the snow trench provided some great entertainment, with many of us slipping, sliding, and falling on numerous occasions. I think we were all thankful to finally get out of our snowshoes, although the talus and sagebrush hopping the rest of the way down wasn’t nearly as exciting. The last of us got to back to the trailhead at around 3:30.

Map of our route. Just over 8 miles and 5100' elevation gain round trip for both peaks.
Map of our route. Just over 8 miles and 5100' elevation gain round trip for both peaks.
Michael and John as we start into the snowfields.
Michael and John as we start into the snowfields.
Climbing up through the fog.
Climbing up through the fog.
The slab we were on collapsed about 8 inches. This crack formed about 10 feet in front of me, and ran at least 50 yards. Just a wee bit scary.
The slab we were on collapsed about 8 inches. This crack formed about 10 feet in front of me, and ran at least 50 yards. Just a wee bit scary.
Diamond Peak in the clouds, from Little Sister.
Diamond Peak in the clouds, from Little Sister.
Leaving Little Sister, heading towards Big Sister.
Leaving Little Sister, heading towards Big Sister.
John and Michael passing some rocks on the southwest ridge of Big Sister.
John and Michael passing some rocks on the southwest ridge of Big Sister.
John, Michael, and Dave on the summit of Big Sister, Splattski style.
John, Michael, and Dave on the summit of Big Sister, Splattski style.
John descending from Big Sister, retracing our steps back to Little Sister. The Lost River Range in the background.
John descending from Big Sister, retracing our steps back to Little Sister. The Lost River Range in the background.
Looking down the connecting ridge from Big Sister to Little Sister.
Looking down the connecting ridge from Big Sister to Little Sister.
Lemhi crest, from Diamond Peak to Nicholson Peak, from near the sisters saddle.
Lemhi crest, from Diamond Peak to Nicholson Peak, from near the sisters saddle.
Reclimbing Little Sister, finally some blue skies.
Reclimbing Little Sister, finally some blue skies.
Bell Mountain from Little Sister. What an awesome peak.
Bell Mountain from Little Sister. What an awesome peak.
Me on the summit of Little Sister, Diamond Peak in the background.
Me on the summit of Little Sister, Diamond Peak in the background.
The group having a snack on the summit of Little Sister.
The group having a snack on the summit of Little Sister.
Diamond Peak from Little Sister. Hard to beat a view like this.
Diamond Peak from Little Sister. Hard to beat a view like this.
The group retracing our steps back across the ridge.
The group retracing our steps back across the ridge.
The trench area seemed steeper without the fog, so we spread out a bit.
The trench area seemed steeper without the fog, so we spread out a bit.
Looking down on our basecamp at Mud Spring.
Looking down on our basecamp at Mud Spring.
View of Little Sister and Big Sister from the highway.
View of Little Sister and Big Sister from the highway.

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