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nutsandbolts

[TR] Three Fingered Jack - South Ridge 1/31/2015

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Trip: Three Fingered Jack - South Ridge

 

Date: 1/31/2015

 

Trip Report:

Although the total precipitation for the northwest is close to normal, the snowpack is dismal. While the December snowfall was disappointing, the loss of snow throughout January has been downright depressing. Mt Hood is at 22% of normal snowpack, and Bachelor is not much better at 37%. Originally, we had planned to climb Mt Bailey this month but after scoping out Three Fingered Jack from Hayrick Butte last weekend and realizing that the upper rock spire was mostly free of snow, we seized the opportunity. I first climbed Three Fingered Jack last summer and had a blast, but I was psyched to try this peak in more wintery conditions.

 

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The parking lot at the trailhead was completely dry and snow-free, as was the first mile or so of trail. After that, the snow came in patches and eventually became more contiguous as we gained elevation. The Pacific Crest Trail is fairly easy to follow through most of the approach and we found some old, melted out footprints that followed the correct path most of the time. After around 4 miles we reached the west side of the mountain and started the climb up a snow covered slope, and reached the main ridgeline.

 

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The ridgeline approaching the summit spire was super cool and featured 3rd class scrambling mixed with steep sections of ice and snow. This was probably my favorite section of the peak - the terrain just looked super cool and navigating through it was tons of fun.

 

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The climbing becomes 4th class through a section known as “The Crawl”, an exposed traverse underneath a gendarme, and finally a short section of 5th class up to the top of the final spire. These sections were dry rock, just as we had hoped and added some fun and slightly spicy moves for us rock climber types. The rock on 3FJ is definitely rotten in spots and hardly rock at all in others. Much of the final spire is loose, chossy, and doesn’t offer much protection-wise, but luckily its all sub 5.3 climbing.

 

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We chilled on the summit for a bit, took the usual selfies, and began our descent, which involves a few rappels and back-leading many of the traversing sections to reach the starting point. Once we got out of the rock I was finally able to bust out my skis and slash slush on the way down. It was short-lived, but totally worth it! Skiing off mountains makes me giddy.

 

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A detailed write-up and more photos can be found here on our blog. This blog also features TRs and beta for South Sister, Adams, Washington, Saint Helens and McLoughlin.

 

 

 

 

Gear Notes:

I protected the exposed 4th class and 5th class climbing with 5 long slings and pieces of cord, plus .5, .75, and 1 camalots.

 

Approach Notes:

About 5 miles from the Santiam Pass PCT trailhead to the summit. Follow the PCT for about 4 miles, and branch off to a climbers trail for the last mile or so.

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