For what was expected to be a newsworthy climb we asked Roy Gault of Salem's Statesman Journal if he was interested in covering Bob Lindsey's seventy-ninth birthday present to himself, a climb of Mount Jefferson. As it turned out Roy gathered a lot more material than anticipated. The story was enormous. But that was before the climb. What none of us knew is how a forest fire would make the hike out so much more newsworthy. By the time everyone was out safely Bob had been on the paper's front page numerous times. Here is how the climb went.
On Wednesday Bob, Pat and Dennis Lindsey, Brian Bartholomew and the Lindsey's mules, Bud and Emma Rose hiked in from Pamelia Lake to the vicinity of Mud Hole Lake. On Thursday Byron Kellar hiked in to meet them there. Low camp was moved to a tarn above the lake. On Friday they left Pat in low camp and made their way to the high camp at the base of a snowfield at 7,850 feet. Also on Friday, John and Paul Solonika, Greg Swanson and Craig Faiman hiked in from Woodpecker Ridge to the high camp.
Saturday morning the whole group headed for the summit about forty-five minutes before sunrise. We were joined by a search and rescue group looking for a climber who had broken his leg the day before. The climber was found at the base of a higher snowfield on the north side of ridge. We used the snowfield to get off the scree as long as it lasted. Bob and Byron climbed together. The others climbed ahead with plans to set the fixed line, summit and return to Red Saddle to find Bob and Bryon there, rested and ready. Events went exactly as planned. Dennis and Greg stayed on the north side of the traverse as Bob and Byron crossed.
While the second group went for the summit Brian and Paul went down. John and Craig stayed at Red Saddle and watched what was not going as planned, a fire, which was small that morning, become huge and intimidating. Helicopters and airplanes could be heard and occasionally seen making a futile attempt to contain the fire. When the second group returned to Red Saddle, Greg, John and Dennis headed down to reach high camp before dark. Bob, Bryon and Craig went down slowly and reached high camp after dark.
Sunday everyone hiked out except Bob and Pat, who decided to spend one more night near Mud Hole Lake. The group headed to the Woodpecker Ridge trail head got out in the early afternoon. The group headed to the Pamelia Lake trail head reached there late in the day. A sheriff greeted them and inquired if anyone was still in. Learning Bob and Pat were still at the lake, a helicopter was sent to pick them up. Pick up Bob and Pat, yes, but not Bud and Ema Rose, who were left behind. And so the wait began to learn the fate of the donkeys. It was Wednesday before they were brought out. Here are some of the e-mails sent to the club's e-mail group.
Sunday E-mail from Craig: Just a quick note. Not everyone is home yet. We set a fixed line of three 50-meter ropes across the traverse, which did not offer the perfect snow of a month ago but was a slippery, muddy mess. The advance party reached the summit and upon returning to Red Saddle found the second party, which included Bob and Byron Kellar, there putting on their harnesses. Across went the second party and to the summit with two members of the advance group, Greg Swanson and Dennis Lindsey, who had not yet crossed back to Red Saddle. Brian Bartholomew took off right then to run all the way down to low camp to fill Pat in on the day's events. Paul Solonika went down with Brian as far as high camp. John Solonika and I waited at Red Saddle, watched the forest fire and hoped the wind would not change to our direction. When everyone returned to Red Saddle, Greg, Dennis and John took off for high camp with the ropes. Bob, Byron and I went down at a slower pace and reached high camp after dark. On the hike out a helicopter dropped a note to us written on a water bottle, go north due to fire. We were going north but were at that moment on a switchback headed south, which caused much consternation and arm waving for the helicopter crew. On the drive out a sheriff informed us the area is being evacuated and all the trail heads on Hwy 22 to Hwy 20 closed. Two photos are attached, Byron and Bob returning on the traverse and a shot of Red Saddle with the smoke from the fire that succeeded in intimidating us.
Monday E-mail from Byron: When it is written, this will end up being one of the most unusual Trip Reports ever. The climb was an amazing team effort, but Bob climbed every step on his own. That is one gritty little Gnome. Sunday morning after Craig, Greg, Paul and John had headed for home, Bob, Dennis and I moved back to base camp to meet up with Pat and Brian. After a nice lunch we packed and all moved down to Coyote Lake so Bob and Pat could camp, alone, another night allowing Bob's legs to rest a bit more before hiking out Monday. As Brian, Dennis and I reached Pamelia about 7:00 P.M., we were met by a Linn Co. mounted Posse informing us that the entire area was closed and that anyone still in had to evacuate Immediately! Bob and Pat! The long and short, Bob and Pat were air lifted out to Sisters, Brian sprinted to picked them up and returned with them to their home while Dennis and I retrieved the van and trailer. The Forest Service has promised to attempt to bring out the Bud and Emma, the two donks tomorrow. This was a very hard way to end a wonderful trip, but in the end we were still working as a team. This is a very bad fire. But everyone in the area that we were in has been accounted for and are safe.
Wednesday E-mail from Bob: Donkey news - This morning the Linn County Posse secured Bud & Emma Rose around coyote lake area and have loaded up all of our gear. They are headed our way at this very moment. Probably arrive at the farm sometime this afternoon.