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[TR] Mt JEfferson - No walk in the (Jeff) Park 8/19/2016

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Trip: Mt Jefferson - No walk in the (Jeff) Park


Date: 8/19/2016


Trip Report:

Chris and I climbed the Jefferson Park Glacier route on Friday. The conditions were quite good--as good as they could get at this time of the year. But it was certainly no walk in the park for me :grin: .


I've not done a lot of climbing in the alpine in the past few years, except for jaunts up the South Side of Mt Hood (but calling it an alpine climb is a big stretch :shock: ). And being a father now makes me evaluate risks quite differently than before :mistat: .


I couldn't find a better partner to climb Jeff Park than Chris. He is a strong yet safe climber who knows the mountain quite well -- has been there more than a dozen times, attempting several different routes. But the fact that he had made it to the top only once before indicates how tough Mt Jefferson could be to climb (even after accounting for Chris' conservative attitude when judging good climbing conditions). As we approached on Thursday afternoon, we observed a rather heinous schrund on the Jeff Park Glacier--it looked to span the whole way, and looked ridiculously overhung all along (at least when looking from far). We accepted that we might well be taking the gear for a walk in the Park, but decided to go any ways.


We started up at 1 AM on Friday. Despite the clear skies, a full moon, and warm temperature, it was surprisingly quite windy on our approach.




We made it to the schrund as the sky was starting to brighten up. It was indeed quite overhung all over (at least for us), but there was one place where we could sneak up. It was a somewhat awkward lip to pull over, with a bulge in the middle pushing you out wide. While the ice felt firm, it was not good enough to take screws. And peeling here would result in a 25-30 ft fall. Even though it all felt secure, the lack of protection made me quite nervous. (Booty alert: I dropped a 13cm screw here).


The lip is visible above my head in this photo:



We were able to sneak through, and thought we've "solved" the route! But there was plenty of excitement left to be had still.


Day break over the North ridge:



The ridge above the glacier was free of snow/ice. We made good time to get to the summit block as the day started warming up.


Chris starting toward the summit pinnacle:



We had to don the 'pons and tools again to traverse a bit of ice at the base of the summit pinnacle, and then switch to rock mode for the rest of the way to the top.


Above the ice on the summit pinnacle:



Birthday boy on top!



After a quick selfie at the top, we started our descent. Again, we had to don crampons and tools for traversing the small bit of ice at the base of the pinnacle. We decided we'll rap down to the Whitewater glacier. This rap was the most unnerving part of the whole climb :shock:!


We found the first anchor getting somewhat baked in the sun, but still quite good. We added a sling to back it up, and went down (We had a 60 m single rope). There was one rock slung for the second rap station, but we didn't like the looks of it. The sling looked new enough, but the rock itself was a typical example of what Oregon High has to say about this mountain [paraphrasing here]: "The blocks themselves are quite big, but it's often not sure what is holding them in place!". There appeared to be no other good options. No good cracks either, to leave a nut even. Finally, we found a very slightly upward sloping rock with a lip of may be 3 or 4 inches. The rock itself was solid otherwise, so we decided to say some prayers and go for it. It was sketchy enough for me to not stay clipped in when Chris rapped first, in case the sling were to slip under his weight and pull me down :lmao: !


But luckily it held. As Chris called "off rap", I was once again in a somewhat nervous soup just like I was earlier in the morning at the shrund. I went down slowly, eyeing the sling hawkishly, sternly imploring it to stay in place. We both breathed a huge sigh of relief as I finished my rappel just a few feet above the Whitewater glacier!


We had both run out of our water reserves, but there were drips to be harvested!


Drip water harvesting at the Whitewater glacier:



The rest of the deproach was uneventful. Each time we turned back to look up at the mountain, we both were still not convinced we made it up and down!


As we were hiking out on Friday late afternoon, hordes of folks were going in to camp at Jeff Park (must've been a busy weekend up there). As much as we both felt how nice they all smelled (not just the cute girls, but even the 40-something gentlemen!), I'm sure they all would've felt how "nice" we both smelled :fahq: !


Here's how the glacier looked on the way out.



Thanks a lot, Chris, for draggin' my fat ass up a real peak. May be we should do it more often, and then I won't brown my panties as much ;) .


Gear Notes:

Lost a 13 cm screw in the schrund on Jeff Park. But hey, found a 16 cm screw higher up on the summit ridge, with an extra biner to boot. You lose some, you win some :-).

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What a great route on a gorgeous peak. Thanks for a great time Bala.


If you're thinking about this route, it will become significantly more challenging if that lip feature disappears. Everything else at the top of the glacier was well over-hung and the rock up there is not an appealing option.


The raps were interesting. There is 2-300' of choss-cades separating the ridge N of the summit from the safer slopes of the Whitewater Gla below- and getting down there involved 20-30' of free hanging rappels (at least from the anchors we contrived) from both of the stations we used. Finding something you feel comfortable hanging your life on was a challenge.


I love that this route demands such a broad spectrum of skills. We had the mountain to ourselves on what was clearly a fantastic day with fantastic conditions. Not only did we get to the top, but we got back to the bottom in one piece. What more could we ask for?


Oh, yeah- we could ask for the screw back which was dropped. But seeing as another one was found (WHAT!?!??!!??), we'll just let that one go.



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Nice to see you out in the alpine Bala! That looks like a fun route, thanks for writing it up. And great pics!

Edited by ryanl

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Thank you gents!


Yes, Wayne, we did take the knife-edge ridge after the glacier. We tried to stay mostly on the ridge proper, but did go to the South side (climber's right) at a couple places. The whole ridge was free of snow/ice, and the rock was reasonably solid (by the standards of Jefferson ;) ).

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