Ascent of Mount Jefferson on 2012-07-18

Climber: Daryn Dodge

Date:Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Jefferson
    Elevation:10497 ft / 3199 m

Ascent Trip Report

Unlike climbing Mt. Adams a few days before, there was no one else climbing this peak when we were there. We (Jen Blackie, Kathy Rich and I) picked up a Volcano Pass at the Detroit RS and headed for the Pamelia Lake trailhead about 16 miles away. We elected to approach Mt. Jeff from the south rather than go in from the north because there was still snow on the northern trail to Jefferson Park.

We hiked in about 2.5 miles to Pamelia Lake, then caught a trail to the PCT which took us SE above Hunts Cove where we left the trail (at elev. 5600 ft) heading north up the forested slopes of Mt. Jefferson. We were immediately in snow, since June was a big month for precipitation in the Northwest this year. We camped at an elevation of 6600 ft on a ridgeline across from Goat Peak.

At 5:15 am the next morning we started for the peak. The climbing was easy at first, on a mix of snow and rock. At around 8000 ft the south slopes got steeper with no snow cover, and we had some tedious scree slogging for while (2 steps up, 1 step sliding back). On the ridge above Waldo Glacier, the rock became more solid and with a little class 3 crossing on snow and rock, we saw the final pinnacle for the first time. It looked quite intimidating.

At Red Saddle, Kathy put me on belay and I started across the steep snow below the summit pinnacles (50+ degrees). The 30-meter rope did not quite reach to some rocks, but I had gained my confidence by this time I could make the rest of the snow crossing unroped. The snow was soft enough to kick good steps but too soft for crampons. However, there were some spots where the ice ax probably would not have held my self-belay if I slipped. Not a good feeling. I got across only to find about 50 feet up that I had to cross another patch of steep snow back over to where there was easier rock climbing. Ugh!

Meanwhile, Jen was putting together a class 3 rock route from the Red Saddle that almost totally avoided the snow. She first traversed almost straight across from the Red Saddle about 20 feet to gain a chute filled with fractured rock. The fractured rock made for easy climbing but some was loose. When the chute opened up, she traversed left (north) again until she found a ledge that took her partway into the next chute between the 2 summit pinnacles. I joined her here after the harrowing second snow crossing. We then traversed north until under the higher summit tower, and climbed up class 3 rock to the saddle between the two towers. From here, easy climbing on the east side of the final summit rocks gained us the top around 10:45 am.

We both thought the rock climbing was fun. The climb from the Red Saddle was almost continuous class 3, although some may call a few sections class 4. We never considered pulling out the rope on the rock. Smoot's Cascade Guidebook suggested the rock here was bad, but we found it no looser than many Sierra peaks we have climbed. However, we tested nearly every rock before putting our weight on it.

The descent was fast and fun, plunge-stepping down scree and snow. The weather held for us, although it looked iffy for awhile. Lots of cloud cover and waves of fog blowing in. A massive thunderstorm formed to the east but Mt. Jeff only caught only the very edge of this storm. Took a break back at our camp, then started back to the cars the same way we came in, reaching the trailhead somewhere around 6 pm.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:7400 ft / 2255 m
    Round-Trip Distance:15 mi / 24.1 km
    Route:South slopes
    Trailhead:Pamelia Lake Trailhead  3097 ft / 943 m
    Grade/Class:class 3
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Rope, Tent Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Time:2 Days 

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