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Mount Jefferson, East Face Route

Hi SACsters,

Saturday morning six climbers left the Whitewater trailhead at 4,100' under partly cloudy skies. The group included SAC climbers Kari Friedwald, Rich Margosian, Gregg Huld, Kipp Bajaj, and Doug Adair, along with Mazama climber Ben Williams. We began encountering snow about 5,000' and were on snow full time by the time we reached Jeff Park. After stashing our snowshoes, we headed up the north side of the mountain toward the Jeff Park Glacier and our high bivy spot at 8,300'. Much to our surprise, the bivy plateu was substantially melted out, allowing us to set up camp on a sandy beach next to the snowmelt pond. After purifying and consuming copious quantities of water, replacing a few of the 1,000s of calories expended on the approach, and wandering up a ways to shake out the tired legs and scope out the route, we turned in. Fierce wind gusts battered the camp, but a few extra guy lines and rocks held the tents in place until the weather calmed.

We awoke at 2 am to a clear sky and a full moon. The wind had died and conditions were perfect for climbing. Two rope teams headed off across the upper Whitewater Glacier traversing up the east face toward the summit ridge as the sun rose. Doug and Ben traded leads, kicking steps in the firmly compacted neve. The upper sections of the face went at 60 degrees or better - it was really steep! At the very top, Doug cut through the cornice and the team ascended onto the ridge north of the summit pinacle at 10,000'. We began traversing around the west side of the pinnacle, slowly gaining altitude as we went. Unlike the ideal surface on the east side, the west side was brittle rime ice - hard to climb on and continously falling on us. After making slow progress and taking a few direct hits, we decided to back off at about 10,200'. We had celebratory chocolate on the corniced ridge and started our descent down the already softening east face. The team rappelled the steepest 400', then downclimbed to the Whitewater Glacier and hiked back to camp. Even considering that we did not summit, everyone agreed that this was a near-perfect climb: great weather, great snow, a challenging, technical route, and, most important, a great group of talented, strong, friendly, and supportive climbers. And, as our guest Ben put it so well, we set out to climb the east face and did just that.

Doug Adair


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