Matt and Joanne’s Page

August 13, 2006

Broken Top

Filed under: Climbing — Matt Stamplis @ 12:00 pm

Broken Top is a very appropriately named 9175′ peak in Central Oregon. Although only 1000 feet shorter than the 3 Sisters that are within a few miles of the peak, it gets less attention than those peaks. There’s probably a good reason for this: it is a much older volcano – in fact, it hardly resembles a volcano anymore, the crater has long since erroded away. What’s left is broken ridgeline that runs north-south with two separate peaks.

On the approach the peak on the right (southern summit) looks taller but it is actually 80 feet shorter than the northern summit!
Broken Top: The summit is, surprisingly, the left peak. The route goes up the lefthand ridge.

I climbed this with a group of Mazamas led by Hugh Brown on August 13, 2006. Joanne was out of town on business so she wasn’t able to come along. We climbed the Northwest Ridge which involves pretty easy scrambling until it gets a little steeper near the summit.


Hanging out after making it back down from the summit. The two guys in the middle of the picture were another party that is just getting ready to rope-up to head for the top. Actually, I think one of the guys was teaching his partner how to belay….hmmmmm.


The easiest way up meanders its way along a series of ledges up to the top. Not exactly direct. There’s probably a more direct route, but you won’t see me climbing it.

A rope is probably a good idea on this climb not because of difficulty but because the rock quality here is honestly the _worst_ I have ever experienced. Worse than 3-Fingered Jack. Worse than Mt Washington. That handhold you see in front of you? You can probably pick it up and take it home as a souvenir. There’s an easy 10 foot “chimmney” which I guess is the “crux” of the route. Pulling onto the sloping ledge, full of kitty litter and rocks that threaten to rain down on your belayer was a bit unnerving. Helmets are a good idea.


We watched the smoke from this fire, just North of the Sisters get bigger throughout the day as we climbed. We watched as airplanes buzzed low on the blaze, dropping flame retardent chemicals. Kinda neat to watch everything from up high.

There’s no real technical difficulties on the route, just tread super-lightly on the chossy rock. I told Joanne she didn’t miss too much by not coming on the climb! Although, the night before, while camping at Skull Hollow at Smith Rock I awoke to a truck being chased by police cars. It’s a little unnerving to be sleeping in a bivy sack under the stars and be awoken by a car driving recklessly right through the middle of the campground, missing my campsite by only 50 feet. Followed by several police cars. The truck plowed right through the cattle fence surrounding the campground and just kept going. I jumped out of my sleeping bag pretty quickly! I decided to sleep in the car after that…and parked the car behind a tree…and locked the doors…

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