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[TR] Mt Jefferson - South Ridge 10/22/2018

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Trip: Mt Jefferson - South Ridge

Trip Date: 10/22/2018

Trip Report:

Don't listen to the haters, this route is damn fine.

I was lucky to snag the very last Pamelia Lake permit Thursday night. Because I knew I needed sleep before my big trip, I got none and I was really droopy heading out Saturday morning: had tea with a nice person about to travel far away, printed my maps/permit, texted plans to my coparent, and overshot Pamelia Road by 15 mins all in a dizzying podcast muffled blur.


The low point of my trip was at Pamelia Lake. It turns out the BeFree filter's bad reviews have merit: with a hard squeeze drops were coming out slower than I was perspiring. It's been used for about ten nights total. For some reason, after sucking on it hard (no, there's no pun there) the flow upgraded to an infuriating trickle and my trip wasn't ruined.


I got to Coyote Lake after a few hours of slow and sleepy PCT, mostly nondescript except for this huge owl.


There were a few peeps on the other side; I was surprised by how few I'd seen given all the cars at the TH. I heard the climber's trail is hard to find, so I decided not to try and just bushwhacked uphill starting right where the PCT meets the lake.

I love bushwhacking. I love the expeditionary feeling, the independence, the navigation, and the mindfulness it mandates. As a bonus, no predator could hunt me without making a lot of sound, so it's safer than a trail. Right?



Well, I had a mild navigation problem. I'd intended to camp at a flat spot at 7100 ft. I popped atop a knifey ridge and utterly failed to read the terrain, so I did my best and (finally) read the altitude instead: 7700 ft. I'm way off, but in a good way? I scramble a bit more with headlamp and find a narrow perch at 7800 ft to call it a day after trying and failing to pinpoint myself on the map by moonlight.





Wake naturally at 6:10 after sleeping well. I still don't know exactly where I am, but uphill seems sensible. I consistently find excellent boulders to use for climbing, next to no scree. If you're one of the many annoying folks that whine about this route, I'm so excited to tell you that if you stick just a bit to the SE you'll have nothing to complain about.


Traversing to the N side of the pinnacle was certainly not trivial, but easier than I expected: dry at first, then with some ice I could navigate around, then the crampons came on. It was wicked to dislodge rocks and see them explode into many pieces 1000 ft down seconds later.





Took a few false starts till I found the way to the summit; I'd agree with peoples' fourth class assessment, though there's one narrow snowy ledge on the North side of the pinnacle that has some crazah exposure facing East (fourth pic down from here). This was the one spot where conditions weren't ideal: snow was soft and a few inches deep. Slippery, no purchase.





Did I mention conditions? Extremely good, everything in shadow was very firm snow or dense water ice. Very trustworthy. This is my first mixed snow/ice/rock experience and it was SO rewarding, made me feel so competent :->.

Descent was similar, though I opted for screeing instead of the boulders. Accidentally found the climber's boring trail and followed it. Decided to descend via Hunt's cove, got my bushwhack fix there with a nice, steep shortcut. So dreamy in the fall.



I might've picked some boletes on the way back as an offering to my dad, who expressed want for them and specifically asked me not to climb Mt Jefferson.


Back in town only five minutes late to pickup my daughter this time. Such a rewarding excursion!


Gear Notes:
Crampons, ice axe, Assam tea

Approach Notes:
I'm 80% sure the mushrooms are called Fat Jacks, and 100% sure they're nontoxic by way of human experimention.
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Thanks for posting as your fine photos brought back lots of memories.  I used to climb up there in the 60s and 70s.  Never saw the mountain so devoid of snow.  Really appreciate your report!

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Just finding this TR - awesome solo effort and great storytelling - congrats on the Jeff summit and thanks for the tour!

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