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#398724 - 09/29/04 01:18 PM [TR] Jack Mountain- South Face 9/26/2004
BlackHawk Offline

Registered: 06/28/04
Posts: 23
TRs: 5 Photos: 24
Loc: Seattle
Climb: Jack Mountain-South Face

Date of Climb: 9/26/2004

Trip Report:
On Friday the 24th the forecast for the last weekend in September suddenly changed. Instead of increasingly deteriorating conditions, high pressure was now forecast to continue with thick fog in the lowlands and a freezing level at 13K. And that means nothing but clear skies above. Throw in a nearly full moon and I had to make a break back to the south face of Jack Mountain. On August 29th, climbing partner Mike and I made an attempt at it but lingering crappy weather stopped us on the ridge above Jerry Lakes. We talked to two other parties who were heading out without making the climb either and everybody was wondering what the hell happened to the fair weather that was forecast.

Since I couldn’t get any positive responses for a last-minute climbing partner I went solo. I gathered my gear together Saturday morning and headed out. Three hours later I was at the Highway 20 milepost-141 trailhead and 5 leisurely hours later I was setting up camp at Jerry Lakes. Nobody on the trail except for a few unlucky early buck season hunters on their way out. Not much in the way of critters either, which made it seem even more eerily quiet and remote – very nice. Fall colors are full-on and though the Tamaracks around the lakes were yellow it didn't frost overnight. It was calm and relatively warm now, but over a foot of snow had fallen in the area since my last visit. All that snow had melted out except on cliffs above 8K and on the glaciers, which made getting across a short section of the Jerry Glacier remarkably easy.

On Sunday morning it took about 2 hours to make the cross-country trek from Jerry Lakes to the base of the climb at the south face of Jack. For all the ups and downs and side hilling I found it fairly easy going. There is no beaten path to the top but there’s really only one convenient area to start up since steeper cliffs loom on either side. The south face is a series of steep gullies with ramps, ledges, and stepped-out rock face - not a big deal but a little route finding is in order here and there. The first section, getting onto the climb, is the most interesting since it starts out fairly steep and you just go for it. You may find yourself faced with a difficult stretch, but you would be hard pressed to make this a class 5 route – just look around for an easier way. You ramp a little, climb a little, then ramp some more. Basic and fairly easy moves all the way on great rock, and soon enough it moderates. There isn’t really any required route up the face – its all good.

Following 2.5 hours of nothing but rock and snow I was on the 9,066' summit – about 4.5 hours from camp at Jerry Lakes. So, exactly when did this become a 9K plus climb – older maps show it lower in elevation. I ran into a fair amount of fresh soft snow above 8.5K, but it was melting fast and most of it would probably be gone before long. When I got about level with the base of the summit pyramid I began to traverse across towards it to the left – I didn’t go up to the ridge crest. I looked for the most convenient way over to and under the bottom of the block, and as soon as I turned that corner I found myself in the final gully, on the west side of the summit, leading to the summit ridge - very straightforward. There was plenty of soft snow piled up in the narrow, steep gully, which made for very easy kick stepping up to the summit ridge. Snow on the north side of the ridge was frozen solid but easy to avoid on the final scramble to the top. Classic climb with the best views anywhere - temps in the 70’s, no wind, and no clouds.

I finally left the summit at noon and got back to the trailhead at 8pm with only a few short breaks along the way. That last hour was dark but with the moon and headlamp I had no problems – not even with the chilly wade across canyon creek. Jack is a great all-around challenge and I can understand why climbers get turned around, for one reason or another. The last entry in the summit register was August 19th - 10 days before our previous attempt. Glad that I hit it right this time around – and it’s still good to go.

View south from the summit of Jack looking back at Crater Mtn. and Jerry Glacier, showing route dropping down past Jerry Lakes (not all visible) and then up and over the ridge above (north of) Jerry Lakes:

Basic route looking up towards the summit of Jack as you approach the base of the climb:

View from the ridge above (north of) Jerry Lakes showing the final approach:

Gear Notes:
Boots & hardhad

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#398725 - 09/29/04 02:18 PM Re: [TR] Jack Mountain- South Face 9/26/2004
Chriznitch Offline
addicted to

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 490
TRs: 17 Photos: 286
Loc: Susanville, CA

Gear Notes: hardhad

is this a hardhat that has been genetically spliced into your head?

just kidding! Thanks for the report

#398726 - 09/29/04 05:26 PM Re: [TR] Jack Mountain- South Face 9/26/2004
Skeezix Offline

Registered: 04/22/04
Posts: 1267
TRs: 0 Photos: 3
Loc: Port Angeles
Holy schiznit. I heard Jack is the looonnnngest climb in the world. From your TR it doesn't sound that bad... funny how impressions of things build up in your mind.
He is richest whose needs are least.

#398727 - 09/30/04 10:46 AM Re: [TR] Jack Mountain- South Face 9/26/2004
BlackHawk Offline

Registered: 06/28/04
Posts: 23
TRs: 5 Photos: 24
Loc: Seattle
In "Climbing Washington's Mountains" Smoot claims if you are in shape you can do the hike in a day with a trail head bivouac and early start. Based on my experience, that would equate to a gruelling 18 hour day - not exactly what most people would want to commit to. If you go light and have optimal conditions two days is much more reasonable but your legs will surely be tested. I highly recommend having a cooler with cold beer waiting at the trail head!

#398728 - 09/30/04 11:39 AM Re: [TR] Jack Mountain- South Face 9/26/2004
Stefan Offline

Registered: 04/16/01
Posts: 2232
TRs: 7 Photos: 9
Loc: the circus
I have heard someone did it 15 hours round trip.
Namaste - Whatever your outer appearance, I see and greet the soul in you.

#398729 - 09/30/04 05:51 PM Re: [TR] Jack Mountain- South Face 9/26/2004
plexus Offline
old hand

Registered: 05/18/01
Posts: 909
TRs: 2 Photos: 16
Loc: Chossy boulder in Colo.
Don't give "Speedy Dan" any ideas there Stefan!!

And from experience, take things in Smoot's guide with a grain of salt. Any of the "Climbing (insert name of state here)" series from Falcon are not that good and should only be used as primers for finding out where climbing areas are. The Climbing Colorado is full of inaccuracies and I rarely use it.

I would think only the select few of ultra hikers and lightweight packers would make it roundtrip in a day. Having been up Crater, I think a person would be remissed for speeding through an area with it's own scenic beauty and vantages, that I think are rather unique.

#398730 - 09/30/04 06:44 PM Re: [TR] Jack Mountain- South Face 9/26/2004
klenke Offline

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 3756
TRs: 28 Photos: 610
Loc: On the redactor tractor
I'm with Stefan on this one. I am quite sure a fast, competent party could climb Jack car-to-car in a day from the Little Jack side. 15-17 hours round-trip.

When Sergio & I did Jack from our camp atop Little Jack, we did it round-trip camp-to-camp in 12 hours. However, due to route-finding issues (issues which could be mitigated with careful studying of the shortcut Zigzag Route we took), we lost about 2 hours.

So say 10 hours round-trip Little Jack-to-Little Jack + 3 hours getting up to Little Jack and 3 hours descending back to the car from Little Jack = 16 hours.

That said, our camp atop Little Jack was one of the best camps in my memory. Very scenic. Great views. Great sunset. Nice weather.
Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.

#398731 - 10/02/04 10:37 PM Re: [TR] Jack Mountain- South Face 9/26/2004
Tod Offline

Registered: 03/23/01
Posts: 251
TRs: 3 Photos: 26
Loc: Tacoma, WA
In my circuit last year from Little Jack to the base of Jack to Crater and back down via the Crater trail it sure seemed easier and faster to be on the Crater side....

After going up Little Jack twice last year for short some traverses and attempts I never intend to go back up to Little Jack again in order to access Jack; the traverse over to Jack from Little Jack sucks...

#398732 - 10/06/04 07:53 PM Re: [TR] Jack Mountain- South Face 9/26/2004
klenke Offline

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 3756
TRs: 28 Photos: 610
Loc: On the redactor tractor
The traverse over to Jack from Little Jack would suck if you didn't take the zigzag shortcut to the upper South Face:
Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.


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