In the middle of the Cascade Range in Oregon there is a group of mountains called The Three Sisters. Each one can be climbed, but the level of difficulty is different. The South Sister is supposed to be a fairly easy climb, the Middle Sister is a bit harder and the North Sister is a technical climb, meaning you will need mountain climbing equipment to make it to the top safely.
My husband met a man who took groups up the Middle Sister and he wanted to go again as he had climbed it when he was a teenager. We met the man and he told us what we would need to prepare for the climb. He said, “You won’t need an ice ax or crampons, just good boots. So okay, we were in.
Several of us went including my back-packing buddy, Ann. It took several hours, but most of us were able to make it to the top. A few couldn’t quite make it up because they began to have problems with the altitude. They would be picked up on the way down.
The view from the top of the mountain was magnificent. Looking north, we could see several mountains in the Cascades including a few in Washington. Looking south we had a different panoramic view extending into California. We could see hundreds of miles in any direction. It was spectacular to say the least. We stayed up there for a while, then decided to descend.
There was another man in the group who was also a leader. He was going to take everyone down the mountain as the man we talked to wanted to glissade down one of the glaciers. My husband wanted to try it, and why Ann and I followed, I will never know. So off our Sherpa went. He took out his ice axe and went down. My husband followed without an ice axe and told us to be careful as there was a crevasse down at the bottom. Ann and I held hands as we slid down the glacier on our bottoms. My husband waited at the bottom to keep us from going into the crevasse. Slowly, ever so slowly, we went down. Then we carefully walked across the glacier and got on the main path that led down the mountain.
To say that Ann and I were angry is an understatement. We felt that it wasn’t safe to go down the glacier without an ice ax and crampons would have been very helpful as we traversed the glacier. Should I have done more research before I went and not have totally relied on my Sherpa’s advice? Probably, yes.
The leader that talked to us was right, of course. To go up and down the mountain normally you would not need extra equipment. To do anything else, it would have been wise to have it. That experience taught me not to trust my Sherpa completely. I learned that whatever situation I am in, I must take responsibility for myself and do my own research and decide what will be needed for whatever undertaking I intend to proceed with. Then, and only then, can I make an informed decision and be prepared for wherever I am going and whatever I am doing. photo by cssharker courtesy of pixabay
It is unwise to follow blindly and trust anyone completely. Humans are fallible and anyone can give us wrong or incomplete information. We each need to be responsible for ourselves and not trust our Sherpa completely. After all, you never know when you will be in a situation where you need an ice axe or crampons (or anything else for that matter)!