Fall on Rock, Party Separated, Oregon, North Sister

Publication Year: 2004.


Oregon, North Sister

Dr. Bruce Shively (55) slipped on the steep friable volcanic rock slopes below the summit of North Sister and fell 600 vertical feet to his death, down one of three possible chutes. Shively was last seen about 2:30 p.m. on Saturday while descending the dangerous unstable slopes. He became separated from his female climbing partner who did not see him fall. She descended and two hours later borrowed a cell phone to call for Search and Rescue. At 4:30 pm. on Sunday, Dr. Shively’s body was observed closely from an Oregon National Guard helicopter by Al Hornish, a mission manager with Deschutes County Search and Rescue. It was determined Shively had not survived the fall.

Dr. Shively’s body was recovered by helicopter hoist on July 11, by Lane County Search and Rescue Personnel according to John Miller, SAR Coordinator.


North Sister is a fourth-class climb to the summit, approached along the top of the south ridge by a faint climber’s way high up along the west side of a gendarme called The Camel’s Hump. The route then winds to the east side of a second gendarme, then traverses across an exposed friable 3 5 degree slope just under the Prouty Pinnacles to a gully called The Bowling Alley. Most groups, equipped with helmets and rock climbing skills, will elect to set a hand-line across this traverse and belay and rappel the loose gully to the summit.

Five climbers have died in recent years on North Sister, some from inexperience and a failure to mitigate the high exposure and objective dangers of this old volcano.

Dr. Shively was reportedly an experienced climber, having summited Mount Hood, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens. However, climbing these moderate snow clad peaks is not adequate preparation for the steep friable volcanic slopes guarding the gendarmes and summit blocks of North Sister. (Source: Robert Speik)