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ptownclimber

[TR] Jeff Park Glacier - recon 6/26/2011

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Trip: Jeff Park Glacier - recon

 

Date: 6/26/2011

 

Trip Report:

We had planned to climb this route the first weekend in June, which arrived with fantastic, warm, clear weather. So warm, in fact, that we worried about snow pack stability and called it off without ever reaching the trail head. Taking advantage of the great weather, I headed to the coast and got engaged. Fate must have had other plans for me.

 

After a few more weeks the approach would surely be easier - the last report from the Detroit ranger station indicated parking a mere half mile from the trail head. We were able to drive right over the snow. I naively threw my skis over my shoulder, envisioning smooth skinning after a few hundred yards. It took almost a mile to reach snow, and then it was only spotty and not exactly skin-able. My friends ditched their snowshoes as the snow had consolidated enough for good boot packing. Soon enough we met some skiers hiking out. They reported lots of tree wells and patchy snow almost all the way to Jeff park. "You can forget about skinning". So I stubbornly strapped mine to my pack, certain to find good snow high on the mountain. I had an up-close photo from the weekend before, and there was a lot of snow:

jeff_park.JPG

 

The approach took longer than I anticipated. It was easy to lose the trail in snow drifts, and side-hilling the soft snow wasn't exactly smooth sailing. Soon enough we were crossing the creek on a fat snow bridge. I was skinning at last.

 

Jeff_004.jpg

 

As we reached better views of the upper Jeff Park Glacier, we were amazed at the breadth of the bergschrunds. The upper one cut from well left of the Mohler tooth nearly all the way to Smith rock. The lower one seemed passable far left or far right, but the right hand side looked steep and in the fall line directly under Smith rock. It looked like there might be a snow bridge over the upper 'schrund just to the right of Mohler tooth, at the base of some ice runnels. We agreed to start up on the left with the option of heading straight up the North ridge variation if we couldn’t pass the upper ‘schrund to the right (west) of the tooth.

 

Jeff_009.jpg

 

I actually managed to get some good sleep - I missed the sunset. We left camp at 3:15 and had plenty of daylight before we got to the steeper climbing. The snow had set up real nice, making for good purchase. Sure enough the ice cone almost formed a snow bridge - we crossed the upper ‘schrund with the tiniest of high steps. This ‘schrund looked almost like a cornice from lower down. The lower bergschrund is more of a gaping crevasse.

 

Jeff_010.jpgJeff_013.jpgJeff_015.jpg

 

Once across we traversed up and right to the col, took a quick break and headed up the knife edge ridge. After about 50 feet of exciting, airy and easy climbing, we came to the base of a notch. This looked pretty tame and small from farther down the ridge. Up close it was an imposing, past-vertical mass of not-solid-enough rime. I lowered down the ridge to the right, hoping to find a way around a small corner into a left leaning rime gully. Upon closer inspection this too looked sketchy. We concluded that sometimes wisdom is, in fact, the better part of valor - and bailed. So did five other climbers behind us. We reckoned there was still a lot of climbing after that step - maybe more than we had time for. With two technical tools each, plenty of gumption, pluck, patience and skill, it might have gone. For us this combination was not at hand.

 

Jeff_017.jpg

 

The step is about in the middle of this photo. There probably was a bypass in the snow gully below (left of) it:

Jeff_020.jpg

 

Down climbing the route we saw a solo climber slip and fall about 100 feet, just above (and over) the upper bergschrund. Luckily he came out with a busted lip, bloody nose and a few scratches. It was pretty unnerving to watch.

 

By mid morning we were back at camp, and it was warm. So warm that I felt the icy ridge and summit block might have been getting a little too soft for comfort. In hindsight the north ridge or jeff park to north ridge variation might have been a better bet. That’s the thing about hindsight, I suppose.

 

We busted out camp in pretty short order. I enjoyed a couple thousand feet of turns on soft corn (even with a full pack), all the while knowing it would not be worth carrying my heavy-ass skis back to the car. Having seen the trail from camp (snow drifts making a clear line through the trees), we made a slightly more direct track out and were home in time for a Sunday evening bar-b-que.

 

Jeff_026.jpg

 

It was my first trip into Jefferson, so good reckon all in all.

 

 

Gear Notes:

Pickets went in quite well

 

Approach Notes:

unpleasant at times

Edited by ptownclimber

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When we did that route we did not climb on the knife edge ridge. We traversed below it on the south side through the boulders and joined the ridge further east.

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Jeff park is a great place. Thanks for the TR, great writing. Here's a scenery shot of Jeff from the West while we wait for the photo feature to get back online. Ck the size of your pictures. Yours may only need to be resized smaller.

 

Jefferson_West_NW_side_resized.jpg

 

Congrats on the engagement.

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Yeah, in hindsight it looked like that might have worked. There was plenty of snow between the ridge and Mohler tooth. But it didn't occur to me until looking at pictures...

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Hey ptown it was great to be up there with you. My buddy and I were the car-to-car guys right behind you up the glacier - the ones who took the wrong turn low, and climbed through the upper crevasses. Without that wrong turn, I think we would have had time to mess about on the ridge.

 

I gotta give your crew props for your support of the fallen climber. It was pretty bad to watch the fall from above, I can't imagine the view from below. I was surprised that he cleared the schrund, and amazed that he got off with so little damage. Did he end up walking out on his own? Any followup? He seemed generally capable, but things happen - a good reason to be running belays on that upper section of the glacier.

 

Hope to run into you again. Which of the 4 were you?

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Thanks. He did walk all the way to the car with us and we've been in contact since. We were relieved that he made it out with just some cuts and bruises.

 

I had the red pack, orange helmet, green fleece up high...and the tele boots.

 

Hope to run into you again too.

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Wow, there's a lot of snow up there this year! We did this route about three or four years ago on the exact same date you did, and had virtually no snow or ice on the knife edge ridge. Conditions were excellent, and we managed to summit.

 

Thanks for the report and the great photos!

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Ptown:

based on our adventure last year in similar conditions, from that step on the ridge you still have 1.5+ hours of climbing beyond that before you'd be headed down. Good call. That rime would be falling off all around you on the descent. The rime step is spicy! my partner led it when I bailed on it, and it was not very solid climbing at all.

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