Forum Index > Trip Reports > Jack Mountain - Pasayten Wilderness - 8/4/19
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geyer
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PostTue Aug 06, 2019 6:41 am 
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Dates: August 4, 2019 (plus a wee bit past midnight)
Distance:  24.5 miles
Accum. Elevation Gain: 12,200'
Total Humans Seen: 2 people and their dog
Larches: yes

For whatever messed up reason, I got the idea to try Jack Mountain in a day. The Jerry Lakes area was supposed to be beautiful, and even though it would likely end up being my most physically demanding day in the mountains yet, I thought I could pull it off. (I thought I could pull it off in less time than I did, but the body and mind act in strange ways after they've been subjected to a lot of stress.)

I started from the Canyon Creek TH in the early hours of Sunday morning and was immediately surprised at how brushy the trail was and how there were absolutely no signs at the trailhead indicating that a trail went to the Crater Mountain Lookouts. There weren't signs for the split in the trail from Jackita Ridge either and I nearly missed the turnoff... Anyway, the switchbacks went quickly in the dark and I made it up to lookout #2 around sunrise and soaked in the panoramic views of the entire North Cascades south of Hwy 20.

views from the trail
views from the trail
Pano
Pano
Road to Slate Peak LO
Road to Slate Peak LO
Slate Peak LO at left
Slate Peak LO at left

After getting up to the lookout, the view of the newest Jerry Lake was mind blowing. The entire route to Jack Mountain was laid out in full behind the gleam of the lake's jade color. Jack looked so close from here, but I knew reality would not be so kind.

First view of Jack
First view of Jack
"How the heck am I going to climb that??"
"How the heck am I going to climb that??"
What a sight
What a sight
Elija Ridge has piqued my interest
Elija Ridge has piqued my interest
larches too!
larches too!

I descended the arm from the lookout to the lake where I saw a woman with her dog at the side of the lake. I was envious that they got to relax in such a wonderful location while I was subjecting myself to self-inflicted torture.

can you spot the human+dog?
can you spot the human+dog?

After passing the lake, there's about 3/4 of a mile of loose boulder hopping in the moraine of Jerry Glacier. It's easy to picture a time when the glacier filled the entire basin and flowed all the way to the valley below. Sadly those days are long gone.

tarn on the way to the moraine
tarn on the way to the moraine
Moraine crossing
Moraine crossing
Jerry Glacier
Jerry Glacier

After passing the moraine, it's time to climb again, just a little bit before topping out on a ridge and descending a loose scree-covered slope down to the Jerry Lakes basin. The Lakes are gorgeous and the fish in the middle lake (5915) were feasting on all the bugs. I'd bring a rod if I went back.

Jerry Lakes
Jerry Lakes
so many larches
so many larches
This lake was wonderful
This lake was wonderful
Back up high above the lakes
Back up high above the lakes

Another climb brought me up to the ridge of Jerry Lakes Peak, but the gain was short lived before dropping (again) down to the headwaters of Crater Creek. The drainage was nice, but I'm about 60% certain that I heard the howl of a wolf as I reached the creek. I say 60% because I was exhausted and it could have just as easily been a bird with a very wolf-like call. (The NOCA NPS website says that wolves have been known to prowl around Ross Lake and the Pasayten wilderness area, so that would be very interesting if it indeed was a wolf.)

Crater creek headwaters
Crater creek headwaters
interesting waterfalls
interesting waterfalls

From here, the climb began. I took off my trail runners and switched to mountaineering boots after reaching the SW ridge before the traverse over to the start of the scramble. I had been carrying them along with crampons the whole day, mainly for the snow field that I would have to cross. I semi-jokingly told RynoA that the snowfield is the best part of the route up Jack. It just felt so secure and easy to maneuver, unlike all the rest of Jack's loose south face.

The route comes into view
The route comes into view
Lobstah claw from the slung boulder
Lobstah claw from the slung boulder

After crossing the snow field, I traversed westward a little more until reaching the slung boulder near the lobster claw of snow. The slings on the boulder have seen better days and should probably be cut off. From there on, I think the beta to follow another climbers' peakbagger gpx track is fairly overstated. There is one location where you would cliff out if not for a hidden corkscrewing meanuver up or down the cliff, but other than that, it's a choose-your-own adventure up to the top. All of it is loose, so don't be expecting any one route to be much better than another.

Ok, here's where my day started to fall apart. I set a soft turnaround time of 1:30, but summit fever is strong and I am weak. I reached about 400 feet below the summit at 1:30, and thought I was far too close to turn around. This was incidentally around the time where my body started to shut down. 12 miles and 9000' gained on little sleep had put myself in a bind. I continued on at a snail's pace, one step at a time and finally reached the summit about an hour later than I had hoped. It was a hot day - 92 degrees in Winthrop and not much cooler on the summit of Jack - I was quite warm at 9000' in shorts and a tee.

Summit Success!
Summit Success!
Note the slabs in the snowfield from what must have been a big avalanche
Note the slabs in the snowfield from what must have been a big avalanche
Nohokomeen + Ross
Nohokomeen + Ross
Ross Lake
Ross Lake
Looking back to the Jerry Glacier
Looking back to the Jerry Glacier
Snowfield
Snowfield
Smoke season is here
Smoke season is here

I was completely gassed, so I took a few pictures, ate a snack, hydrated, and took a 10 minute power nap before going back down. The power nap made a huge difference for the entirety of the descent. I was significantly faster going down, but I don't think that would have been the case if I had fresher legs on the way up. On the descent, I sliced my hand on a sharp rock. I was worried it was deep enough that it might need stitches, but it stopped bleeding eventually.

That north ridge of crater looks nice
That north ridge of crater looks nice
"best part of the route"
"best part of the route"

I got back to the SW ridge where my trail runners were stashed and put them on - it felt like walking on clouds after the hell that is mountaineering boots! I continued my descent down to the crater creek area, still feeling pretty good, where I started to notice that my daylight was running out. I realized the feel-good vibes on the descent were a complete farce once I had to ascend back up to Jerry Lakes Peak ridge.

Light playing games
Light playing games
drainage
drainage
Fantastic light
Fantastic light

The descent and traverse over from Jerry Lakes to the base of the Crater LO #2 was not that bad, but I had run out of daylight and my spirits were low. At one point I starting seeing things in the rocks that were ...umm... things that aren't rocks...
I'm not sure how my legs made it up that last climb to the ridge, but thankfully they did. I brought earbuds to listen to music on my phone to help pass the 6.4 mile descent back to my car. My mood was all over the place - at times I was super motivated to get down to the car, other times I was convinced that the trail was never going to end. And at one point, I got really upset at the selection of songs the shuffle was putting on and I wanted to throw my phone away and start my musical playlists from scratch  lol.gif It was like my conscious brain had a front row seat to the increasingly dominant subconscious part of my brain that it couldn't control. My legs only seemed to be moving because they were on autopilot - pure brain stem motor control. Anytime I came across a downed log, it was as if there was a disconnect between my conscious brain and that motor control, because I had to stop and think very hard about how to get over it.

Goodnight, Jack
Goodnight, Jack

At three separate times on the way down, I stopped in the middle of the trail and used my pack as a pillow to take another 10 minute power nap. They became less and less effective until I got far enough down that I could hear Canyon Creek roaring - this sparked something fierce in me to get back to the car. This whole time, all I could think of was the nap I was going to take in the front seat once I got there.

At long last, I made it to my car, in one piece, tattered and torn, but not broken.

Final thoughts: The south face of Jack is a beast. A loose, exposed, dangerous beast. If you ever do it, do it with fresh legs and a keen mind to ensure your best chance of a safe trip. Or better yet, climb the Nohokomeen or the east ridge instead...
Also, there is some interesting geological history to read up about Jack on the SummitPost page.
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cascadetraverser
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PostTue Aug 06, 2019 8:14 am 
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Wow....that is a lot in one day. Strong work!  As I was gazing that direction this past July I really was keen on going there.  I think I will take a few days though. Appreciate the TR and beta.
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Brushbuffalo
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PostTue Aug 06, 2019 8:17 am 
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Phenomenal endurance, both physically, and on that peak,  mentally and emotionally.
geyer wrote:

I just love this picture. Such depth and beauty.

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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b00
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PostTue Aug 06, 2019 9:08 am 
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geyer wrote:
I think the beta to follow another climbers' peakbagger gpx track is fairly overstated. There is one location where you would cliff out if not for a hidden corkscrewing meanuver up or down the cliff, but other than that, it's a choose-your-own adventure up to the top.

strong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

funny how different people interpret a route quite differently.  i found scott rice's gps track indispensable(along with stefan's t/r).  so many places that we did not go to along the route looked so much harder.  maybe because i am definitely not as strong as you and likely considerably less athletic, i appreciated going the easiest way.  also, maybe because i'm friends with scott(and the two others who were climbing with him that day) and stefan, and i had been in the mountains with them multiple times, i know a little how they see things and that makes it easier for me to apply their route info to my skills, or lack of.

thanks for the fun read, great pics and bringing back all the memories.  i sure wish i could be as strong as you!  great work!
:>)
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Backpacker Joe
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PostTue Aug 06, 2019 10:26 am 
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That trip would be amazing in three days!  In one thats super human.  Nice work there Clark!

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"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."

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GaliWalker
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Have camera will use
PostTue Aug 06, 2019 10:43 am 
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I thought heading in to Jerry Lakes and back was tiring; you went up Jack on top of that! up.gif

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Photography: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shahiddurrani/albums
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Fletcher
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PostTue Aug 06, 2019 10:48 am 
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Damn strong effort. Jerry Lakes is really nice. I was there a couple years ago on an attempt on the south face but got stormed off right where the route began to get serious. I went back and did the Nohokomeen route the next spring and was glad I did!
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geyer
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PostTue Aug 06, 2019 5:34 pm 
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b00 wrote:
funny how different people interpret a route quite differently.

Thanks so much for your report! I read it top to bottom multiple times before heading out! I would have been tempted to peel off-route and go up too early if I hadn't remembered you saying how the traverse over to the lobster claw/boulder felt longer than you'd expect. I mostly just followed my instinct in choosing my route -- "does this look class 3? No? Ok that's not the route" -- and that got me to the top. On the way down, I went a different way that felt much less chossy, almost a descending staircase. But if you had to ask me for any specifics, my memory is pretty hazy already

Backpacker Joe wrote:
That trip would be amazing in three days!

I bet it would! Already scheming ways to get back there in prime larch season

Fletcher wrote:
Damn strong effort. Jerry Lakes is really nice. I was there a couple years ago on an attempt on the south face but got stormed off right where the route began to get serious. I went back and did the Nohokomeen route the next spring and was glad I did!

I saw your peakbagger summit of Jerry Lakes Peak before I left. I was curious about who had been there and your group was the only recorded ascent on the site. Nohokomeen looks so much better.
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raising3hikers
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PostTue Aug 06, 2019 5:41 pm 
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Nice pics on the now lesser climbed route up Jack.  Your TR is a reminder to go in that way to tag the Jerry lake area pks during larch season.
Thanks for sharing your trip!

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wolffie
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PostWed Aug 07, 2019 5:12 pm 
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Do you have any photos of the damaged Canyon Ck bridge?  I'm trying to assess the crossing's difficulty.
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geyer
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PostWed Aug 07, 2019 5:42 pm 
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wolffie wrote:
Do you have any photos of the damaged Canyon Ck bridge?  I'm trying to assess the crossing's difficulty.


No pictures, but there are two large logs spanning in the exact location of the bridge. The bridge is only serving to support the logjam

@r3h -- and I'm sure it'll only take you a half day to get there and back  wink.gif
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Kenji
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PostWed Aug 07, 2019 6:07 pm 
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wolffie wrote:
Do you have any photos of the damaged Canyon Ck bridge?  I'm trying to assess the crossing's difficulty.

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PostWed Aug 07, 2019 7:43 pm 
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raising3hikers wrote:
a reminder to go in that way to tag the Jerry lake area pks during larch season

Pics of Jerry Lakes with golden larches
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Bootpathguy
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PostWed Aug 07, 2019 8:13 pm 
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geyer wrote:
The Lakes are gorgeous and the fish in the middle lake (5915) were feasting on all the bugs. I'd bring a rod if I went back

Thanks for saying "rod" instead of "pole"

Drives me insane every time I hear, or read, fishing "pole"

Folks! Its a fishing "rod" or fly-fishing "rod" not a....pole!

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geyer
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PostWed Aug 07, 2019 8:20 pm 
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fourteen410 wrote:
raising3hikers wrote:
a reminder to go in that way to tag the Jerry lake area pks during larch season

Pics of Jerry Lakes with golden larches

The lake near LO #2 looked so much greener and opaque 9 years ago!
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