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[TR] Mt Jefferson - South ridge via Pamelia 9/29/2012

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Trip: Mt Jefferson - South ridge via Pamelia


Date: 9/29/2012


Trip Report:

I decided to bust my "trip report cherry" on a late fall/no summit, attempt of Mt Jefferson. (it's my first TR so if you feel the need to spray please be easy)


I had my sights on Jefferson ever since a successful summit of Hood in May earlier in the year. It seemed like the natural thing to do. Climb Oregon's 2nd highest peak.


Jeff from Shale lake


Some info i read called it Oregon's hardest peak also. Really??? I read about the long approach, lack/minimal water on south side, the traverse ( the crux they say), and the 4th class scramble to the top...I took in every trip report and beta I could find(except a real guidebook, but we'll get back to that later)and really couldn't see it being that tough..


Having scrambled up Mt. Thielsen in Southern Oregon dozens of times as a kid and with the recent adventuring I'd done as an adult, It was not a hard decision to go for it...


I would like to just start by saying, The art of packing light for an overnight trip is not one mastered by me. (for the guys who we met up there and know about us packing in a dozen eggs and a bunch of other ridiculous crap to Shale lake.... please stay silent ( I'm attempting to give the appearance i tried to stay light)


About 55-60 lbs without counting water in my pack and not much less for my partner and were on or way... Idiots...



We started at Pamelia lake trail head at about 6 p.m Friday and made it to Pamilia just after dark. After setting up, sleeping, packing up and eating.... I was left wondering, why didn't we just start this morning instead of last night... Oh well, that's why they call it a learning curve...


So we're off again, sights on Shale lake for camp 2. And we are still on that grueling learning curve as we haul "way too much weight" up the 5 or so mi. to Shale lake


Luckly the sights and views were a good distraction



Pamilia from PCT



Lava and Beyond



We arrived at Shale, found a killer spot, set up and started boiling water. Knowing from beta that water purification was necessary I opted for the boil method no being able to commit to a particular purifier (I read boiling covers every base but sediment, good enough for me)


Camp at shale, spectacular eve...



We scouted and found a climbers trail that eve that appeared to go up the obvious valley in front of us so we followed it the next morning



The boulder field seemed easy enough to navigate at a distance, no prob right?



In hind sight maybe getting up on the ridge would have saved us navigating this mine-fieled of ankle snapping holes and cracks



Once out of that ugliness we gain the main ridge and start our series of things/rock mounds to get to the top of.



About 9200' my Buddy (who is 12 years my junior by the way)(sorry to call ya out bud) decided he had had enough of Oregon's 2nd highest and announced it was time to sightsee


Can't really blame him with such a nice view



About this time we were passed by another (what we thought was solo) climber. Felling good about someone else being around I left my bud to rest and continued on.


Just before the red saddle area my route got a little vague. I was climbing up as I had been and all of a sudden became aware I had become much more exposed than I had realized.


I down climbed a bit and was just about to head to climbers left to attempt to get around when a second climber (the guy ahead of me's buddy calls up from a way below asking me how it looks. I told him I had lost route momentarily and he hollers "climbers right according to the guide book"


Thank you so much... Need to get one of those... Did I mention I am on a learning curve? Went right and gained the red saddle easy enough after that.


I was taking pictures of the horn and dry traverse from the red saddle



When I heard some rockfall... That is when I saw the climber that was ahead of me almost across the traverse on some extremely loose 4th to 5th.. Did not even see him at first..



His partner caught up to me about the time he made it across. We had a conversation about time of day and how long it would take to get across, up, and back. the consensus was that we couldn't get back down off the rock and on trail before dark... We decided to call it good there...




And that was that... I took some more pics, and headed down to round up my partner.. We plodded back to Shale, stayed one more eve and then dragged all our junk back to the car the next morn.


Note: Believe what they say about water on the south side. We ended up giving a group a couple liters who were totally out way high up. Also, found it helpful to get a bearing on lake from ridge, there is a few down there.


All in all a really great trip.... No summit but I feel we exercised good risk management, and its not going anywhere..... Ill be back








Gear Notes:

Axe and crampons (not used) and a bunch of other stuff that weighed too much...


Approach Notes:

I wouldn't waste time again camping at Pamilia (just does not seem worth the effort to set up tear down so close to trail head)



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I enjoyed the TR & pics.


I can tell you from experience that, above shale, the ridge vs the boulder field might be a little better, but I found both to be unpleasant. Last time I was up there I took the ridge up, and boulder field down... I also turned around at the red saddle. The traverse was all iced up at that time and, while I was prepared for that, the rocks clattering down across that traverse at 10am was enough for me. I was alone, and a bit late. Should have been up there at day break or earlier.


Good idea to take a bearing at shale. That was smart.


I think about going back sometimes. It's a pretty mountain (and a slag heap). If I do go back, it will most probably be early spring, from the North...







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What a pile of shit! Thanks for the TR and pics. Now I know where to go, next time I feel like climbing a large pile of stale granola.




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thanks for sharing and good attitude about risk and it not going anywhere.


i'll second dougd on the ridge vs the boulder field. my only climb of it was three years ago in early october (areas of a few inches of fresh snow down around shale/coyote/mud lakes). Normally I'm on top of my game but for some reason I thought the woodpecker trailhead was going to save us some elevation gain so we started there..oi vey what a mistake. Anyways yes we followed that little trail in the night and worked our way up on the ridge (was still snowfields down lower that year I believe). The traverse was snow-covered (mostly rotten sugar like snow) but enough to hold us. We didn't go north enough and went up low 5th class vs doing the ledges.


i wonder if the guy in your picture stuck with the firmer rock (grey) vs the entirely loose (red) at the start but near that ridge (once you get around it I think the angle improves). As I recall getting up/over that little ridge in the picture was the most difficult part, due to the rock being just pulverized volcanic dust/mud there. Anyways looking at the picture of him he seems higher than where one would be if one was crossing on snow--it also looks steeper for him to continue traversing/up/over from his location rather than down in the red. But i wasn't up there in those conditions so hard to know. if you look at my TRs ive got one for southside of jeff with a good pic that shows our boottrack along that traverse.



Edited by Water

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We outdoor people are risk takers but keep in mind scrambling crappy rock is more dangerous than a high end sport climber climbing 5.14. Logistics (know your route, take necessary provisions, start early enough, have a drop dead turnaround time, etc.), fitness, and judgment keep you happy and safe.


And almost everybody on this site appreciates a TR so don't be a stranger.

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Thanks for your comments...


I had looked your Jefferson TR as part of my info gathering and wanted to express my thanks for posting it. Nice Job!


I had kind of wondered if my thoughts of the ridge vs. boulder field were just (wishfull thinking / grass is always greener) mindset.


Subjective perspective gets a little tricky...


I was thinking as well that a lower line for him might have been better, (even though not as solid), but as you said, I was was not were he was at. Even standing at the red saddle my perspective of his line did not feel accurate.


Looking forward to going back.......







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