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[TR] Mt. Jefferson - Southwest Ridge 7/1/2009

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Trip: Mt. Jefferson - Southwest Ridge

 

Date: 7/1/2009

 

Trip Report:

Bruce and I started from the Pemelia Lake Trailhead (3100') on Wednesday at 12:30pm. Hiked past Pamelia Lake to the Pacific Crest Trail and headed south for a few miles. At 5100' we left the PCT and hiked cross country to our camp at 6700' below the SW Ridge. We didn't see any snow until about 5400' and it was patchy until about 6000' After setting up camp we melted some snow for dinner and water for the following day.

 

We woke up at 2:30am, ate some breakfast and headed out for the summit by 3:30am. The climb out of camp was up a long snow field to about 7500' where we gained the SW Ridge. From here it was a rock scramble up to about 8000'. We left the SW Ridge and traversed a snow slope towards the South Ridge until it ran out at about 8600'. From here, it was more scrambling over scree and rock until we met up with the South Ridge right below the Red Saddle. We were at the Red Saddle by 7:30am. It took us a lot longer than we expected.

 

At this point, we roped up for the traverse around to the North side of the summit. The snow was firm and good for vertical pickets. In the middle of the traverse there was one snow chute that was about 4' deep that was fairly easy to pass. Once we reached the base of the summit block we shortened up the rope and climbed several short belayed pitches up to the summit by 9:15am).

 

Just below the summit, we rapped off of a stout looking sling to the Northwest side of the summit block. The snow was starting to get pretty soft on the traverse back to the Red Saddle. At 11am we left the Red Saddle, glissaded about 600' of our long descent into camp and were back to the car by 3:00pm. The little town of Detroit was a welcome sight with cold beers and sardines. Good Fun!

 

 

Gear Notes:

crampons, axe, helmet, 50M rope, pickets

 

Approach Notes:

Snow is melting quickly, another week or two and this route is going to be a slog over scree and loose rock to the Red Saddle. [img:left]http://www.summitpost.org/images/original/526302.jpeg[/img] [img:left]http://www.summitpost.org/images/original/526303.jpeg[/img] [img:left]http://www.summitpost.org/images/original/526304.jpeg[/img] [img:left]http://www.summitpost.org/images/original/526305.jpeg[/img] [img:left]http://www.summitpost.org/images/original/526337.jpg[/img] [img:left]http://www.summitpost.org/images/original/526338.jpg[/img]

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Hey. We were thinking about doing this August 15th weekend, getting there Friday around 2 pm, and hiking in around 3 pm as a start time; attempt the summit on Sat., and then hike out Sun...is this route just going to totally suck at that time and be all scree or??? what are your thoughts? How long was your hike into your base camp? thanks! k.

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We went up last weekend (8/22), but up the S. Ridge from Shale Lake, rather than the SW Ridge. Your basic long, tedious, loose slog up to the Red Saddle.

 

Then bare from the saddle about halfway across the normal traverse zone; easy walking on the faint "trail" right below the summit horns. Once getting to the remaining snowfield (very solid in the early morning shade), it's continuous across to the ridge on the other side. We went across just under the bottom edge of the snowfield on frozen scree about halfway, then up the snowfield at about a 45 deg. angle over to gain the far ridge. Pickets required heavy pounding, but were totally bomber for protection. A 70m rope was handy for reaching from the first corner of the snowfield across and up to the where we could wrap it around a boulder just over the top of the ridge.

 

Everything from that far ridge around to the north side and the Class 4 "gulley" to the top was totally bare and easy.

 

Coming back across the traverse was in the sun, and things softened very quickly. Started to get lots of smallish rocks coming down from the edge of the snowfield. Another party was behind us earlier, starting the traverse while we were in the summit area, and then they magically disappeared. Didn't have any clue what happened to them until I was the first back across the traverse. Right about in the middle was a decent-sized rock that was pretty covered in fresh wet blood. The rope we had left there had blood all over it, and there was a trail of blood drops back across the traverse, and all the way down the trail from the Red Saddle. Our suspicions of some kind of rockfall-induced accident were confirmed much later when a member of the affected climbing party found us at camp at Shale Lake and told us about the large rock that fell on his teammate's hand while it was resting on top of his ice axe. Did some serious damage to the hand, and obviously caused a lot of bleeding.

 

The moral of the story: the route is still easily possible, but watch for rocks in the traverse area after the sun hits it. (Kinda obvious, but bears repeating anyway)

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