When September, mountains, and high pressure come together something good is bound to happen. Don, Mark and I hooked up over the weekend for a memorable exploration of Jack Mountain's South Face.
The noise of passing cars was just a little too random for perfect sleep during our trailhead camp on Friday night. Still, the funk of the nearby bathroom wasn't enough to prevent a few hours of deep sleep. By 0700 the next day, feet were moving and we made quick work of the all the trail miles up to the dirty little collection of water at the base of Crater Mountain. We continued on the trail to 6700' where we exited to the right. Let the heather stomping begin.
We made an ascending traverse to a 7200' notch that grants access to the Jerry Glacier. From the notch, we bled left and down across easy snow until finding several crevasses. We worked amongst some holes and associate porosity, but eventually found a way up and around. Another easy snow descent got us off the glacier and onto more dirt.
We kept traversing over to another notch that gave us the first views of Jerry Lakes. A great looking place!
Not wanting to lose more elevation by descending to the lakes, we traversed above "Jerry Lake 5930" at about 6500' until coming to a spot where we could gain the ridge above. There's no obvious place to do this, but upon closer inspection we found a way via dirty class 2/3 ledges. There are 3 subtle breaks in the cliffs that look like possibilities, our route went up the middle one.
Although this saved considerable time over descending all the way to the lakes and then back up again, once on the ridge we concluded that we would have to summit Jack the following day. Not a bad thing though as the heathery ridge was a great spot for a nap and to wonder where the hell the route was on the south face.
After more napping, we made a descending traverse into an idyllic basin just east of Jack's bulk. Meadows, polished slabs, running water and views...an amazing place to camp. The following picture was taken from high on Jack during our descent the next day.
The rest of the day was spent doing some hardcore lounging enjoying the views and fine September weather. We were moving at 0700 again the next day and made our way east until cresting the SE ridge of Jack. Next, we made an ascending traverse over to a significant snowfield where crampons were needed to continue. We traversed another 200 yards or so until we were able to exit easily to rock. We worked a moat and more rock until up on a prominent bench.
Here's where Jack gets fun. Options present themselves in the form of gullies and class 4 steps. Rap slings exist up and to the right and left. We went left as it looked like it would take us higher. We climbed class 4 rock past one rap station and then past another higher up. We generally went straight up following the weaknesses in the rock. The terrain varied quite a bit from class 2 to 4 and there's no shortage of loose rock.
Further up we began to funnel into a broad, red gully that we had seen the day before from the ridge above Jerry Lakes. It pays to study this mountain from afar as we knew this gully would take us to "easier" ground above.
After 1500' on the south face, we crested the ridge only 200' from the summit. The rest of the way was relatively simple with the final 15' being up a class 3 chimney. The views from the 9066', isolated summit will blow your mind.
We relaxed on the summit and then followed our same route off the mountain. To no surprise getting off Jack takes as long as getting to the top. You'd hate to be coming up this face when a party is descending!
We downclimbed past the all the rap stations and then back to our favorite dirty bench. We followed our ascent route back to camp then packed up for the long, hot hump back to the car. We descended to Jerry Lakes this time, but that doesn't mean the route was free of shenanigans.
A pleasant walk amongst the lakes had me wanting to return one day with some spare time and my fly rod.
The rest of the route out was much the same as the way in and rather unremarkable. However, at the top of the glacier we did catch up to a solo climber (Paul) who had attempted Jack earlier in the day. The four of us chatted a bit before walking out together.
Another interesting thing occurred at the end of the trip as we crossed Canyon Creek in total darkness. As I was crossing the log bridge, a lone Pine Marten was coming in the other direction. We came toe to toe only 2 feet apart with the two of us looking at each other in surprise. For a few seconds we stood there until he retreated 10' and up onto the railing where he continued his impatient stare. Surely he was waiting for us to pass, so he could make his nightly crossing. A great way to cap another spectacular trip!
-------------- "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke
"Ignorance is natural. Stupidity takes commitment." -Solomon Short
Nice work guys, a great tour to be sure. Any register? I'm wondering how often this peak is climbed.
Funny you should ask! This was a topic of debate on our ascent and we ended up betting on a number. I said 2 parties/year Don went with 5 and I think Mark went with 6. 2008 seemed to be a popular year with 5 or 6 different parties. If you exclude 2008, I think we settled on 2.
I seem to remember the "bet" a little different than Randy. I interpted it to mean 'How many ascents this year". I won with the correct answer of 5 and was rewarded with a half piece of candy.
The bedrock of the peak is actually fairly solid. You just have to be careful of all the loose stuff laying around on everything. It was a good lesson when we ran into Paul and he told us that he went a short ways up the route before retreating. Even though the peak sees few ascents and we had no indication that anyone else was around you must always be very careful of the loose stuff.
Nice work on Jack. I went up in a party on three in early August -- we signed the register so we would have been one of the 2008 parties. Even though the S face is not that much elevation gain, I found it to be one of the most continuously tense sections of scrambling I've ever done. It was even worse coming down. Here's one shot that helps me remember why I never want to do Jack again:
So that's where you went to. I was just 100yds behind and a bit below you as you reached the gap overlooking Jerry Lakes. I reach the gap hoping to catch up with you and you guys had disappeared into smoke. I suspected that you were headed for Jack and were traversing up high but couldn't spot you in the shadows.
[So that's where you went to. I was just 100yds behind and a bit below you as you reached the gap overlooking Jerry Lakes. I reach the gap hoping to catch up with you and you guys had disappeared into smoke. I suspected that you were headed for Jack and were traversing up high but couldn't spot you in the shadows.
Can't believe we didn't notice you at some point. You should have thrown a rock at us or something and we could have chatted a bit.
Amazing how many nwhikers were in the area and we only saw one person the entire time!
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