On Friday the 13th, Dan Sewell, Chuck Bennet, Matt Lund, Vita Picchi, Amy and Myself headed out to climb Mt Jefferson. The Salem forecast was in the high 90's, Mt Jefferson, low 70's. We were actually a bit cold at camp! Mt Jefferson, in my opinion, is the most beautiful and interesting of the Oregon peaks. The Whitewater Glacier route also gives you tour around 3 sides of the mountain, the fourth side is viewed on the approach hike from the alpine meadow of Jefferson Park. The approach hike was mosquito infested but generally quite pleasant.
We reached Jefferson park in the late afternoon. Now we just had to find our way up onto the upperflanks of the mountain. There's a hidden creek up on what appears to be a desolate morain. We found this waterfall nestled. What an awesome treasure.
I've climbed lots w/ Dan and some w/ Chuck. Matt is practically my little brother and Amy's is my wife (or more acurately, I'm her husband). I was yet to meet Vita. For those of you who don't know Vita, she's Joanna Picchi's daughter. I've gotten to know Joanna very well over the last five years and had only heard Vita's name. As much as we all love Joanna, Vita was gonna have to be pretty awesome to compare to her mom. Hmmm, we'll have to wait and see.
We finally topped out on the morain and the views were incredible. What a great place to be!
To much fanfare, we all know that mountain goats were reintroduced to Mt Jefferson. Here was some evidence! Would we get to see the real thing?
We set up camp in the cradle of a Moraine. We had dry ground, running water, it was perfect, except the wind. As we all know some wind is enough to wreck camp. We were able to find some boulders and hang out and cook dinner in the lee of the boulders and things were looking good.
We decided to start out at 3:45 am. The day was going to be warm and we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to reverse the traverse before the snow was rotted by the sun.
The Glacier was in excellent condition, there were some massive gapers like this one that we were able to peer into. For Dan, Chuck and Vita, this was their first experience seeing crevasses up close and personal. That's one of the joy's of being a climb leader; helping people see things they may not see on their own.
We had awesome views of to the South. This is a rather unique perspective of Three fingered Jack. You only get this view from the S side of Jefferson.
So we gained the SE Ridge and scrambled up to the Red Saddle. The traverse was steep and full of snow. Perfect. We only had one rope and it wasn't long enough to cover the whole traverse so we'd have to do a running team belay. I gave a quick speech on nobody climbing outside of their comfort, if they were nervous speak up. Nothing brave about falling and scaring the crap out of the whole team. This is life and death and we are tied to the same rope and we are friends. I was able to knock in a few super secure pickets and place two less than great stoppers. We ended up using five pickets and three stoppers. I put Vita on the rope behind me because I hadn't climbed w/ her and wanted to make sure she was OK. I thought she'd be nervous. In one of the most difficult sections I looked back at her to check her progress. She had this huge smile and she shouted "What a beautiful day we have here!" Joanna's daughter indeed.
While she was grinning this is the view down the slope of the runout, not pretty, not survivable. All in all, we were all game for the traverse and we learned that alluminum crampons don't cut it on rock hard snow/ice. We learned the easy way.
Here's Vita crossing one of the runnels. Can you see the fear? Neither can I.
Dan's family is out of town so Dan wasted no time getting into the mid-life crisis dream. A hottie for each arm on top of of Mt Jefferson. Way to go Dan! ( I understand that Amy, Vita and Susie wont be happy about these comments but I live on the edge)
We relaxed our way up the mountain. It felt like we took a 20 minute break every hour. Oh well, it's not always a race. (but it will be next weekend, more on that later)
I sneaked this pic. It was rather cool seeing the team take in the surroundings. Even though Dan is wearing a coat, it was T shirt weather. Something else cool that happened. I ran into a friend Clayton and his friend Tracy. They didn't bring pickets and they hooked up on ours. It was his friend Tracy's first technical climb so our pickets were a welcome sight. It seems I run into clayton from time to time and something special happens. Last time, we peer pressured each other into leading Gold Rush at Trout Creek. It was an on-site for me so that was especially cool. Small world, sorta.
So a friend of mine was complaining that I don't have pics of myself on my blog. I figure that people are sick of my mug but I decided I'd muster up the dorkiest pics that I could just for them. Ta da! (that'll teach em)
We began our decent down the pinnacle. As you climb leaders know, there's always a bit of apprehension on the summit because you still have to reverse the technical sections. I had just a bit of that. Our team was solid and between Matt, Amy and my own experience, I felt less like a climb leader than I ever have on a climb. We were just friends out for a walk. The summit was generally easy but there was a snowy/icy section that forced us onto some 5th class rock so we roped up for a section of it.
Amy decided she'd lead us out. Here she is on the shoulder about to reverse the traverse. She knocked in a picket just to get the belay started before she got onto the steep face.
She inspected and reset a few of the pickets from the way up. It was nice letting her see what its like on the sharp end. You have to kick in the steps, you have to make the holes for everybody else's ice axe. As you can guess, she did well.
We regained the ridge and just had to be careful not to squash each other with the boulders. I was expecially concerned because Wild Bill warned me that Vita was his girl and that I'd better take care of her. Susie also warned that I was a dead man if anything happened to Dan before their vacation. I did the best I could but Vita still managed to black and blue her leg w/ a giant wobbly rock. Fortunately for me she's tough and I think Bill will spare me. So Vita's a good climber, she's tough and she has an awesome mom, if only we could do something about her personality! :-) So in our battle of words and insults, it looks like I'll have the last say, I love it!
On the way back down, we were able to take our time and enjoy some of the crevasses a bit more. I don't take the mountains for granted but when you go out with new people, its a constant reminder of how fortunate we are to be able to enjoy these places.
Chuck gives us his mountain man pose. So far he's Lucky Chuck, yet to get turned back. Chuck looked me in the eye and said that I was by far the best climb leader he's climbed w/ all year. I was flattered. I asked him who else he'd climbed w/ this year, nobody, just me. Oh well, I'll take what I can get. I could of been the worst climb leader he's climbed w/. Gotta look on the bright side!
Scary I know. He's also a bit more wild and fly by night. Yes, even worse then me. Funny thing is, Vita just might be his equal! So it was easy to see that the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree. (Joanna=tree, Vita=apple)
This was a great trip and though I certainly have more to say, I'm doing my best to allow a the pictures to be worth a thousand words. Besides, I need to save some words for next weeks trip. Jeff Park Glacier in a day. All in all, I give the trip a 9.9. It was a mountain goat siting away from perfect.