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Three Fingered Jack, South Ridge Route

A diverse but compatible group of 8 climbers gathered at the Santiam Pass PCT trailhead the night of Friday, July 30. Our goal - to climb and return home safely from Three Fingered Jack. Climbers were: Greg MacCrone, Bill Nichols, Cynde Alt (on loan from the Chemeketans), Richard and Sharon Rogers, Albert Porter, and Rich and Dana Margosian. Bill, Richard, Sharon and Albert were grads from the 2004 SAC climb school.

Most of us roughed it that night by sleeping in our rigs. The full moon, orange from central Oregon fire smoke, made the tinted windows a worthy option. We opted for an early start, up at 3:30 and on the trail by 4:30 am. Much grumbling about dictators and such. At the climbers trail by 7:00 and on the ridge by 7:30. That was when we realized we might not have the mountain to ourselves. Two solo climbers passed us on their way down. When we arrived at the summit saddle, we had the top to ourselves but before we were all on top the first of several other parties had started to queue up at the crawl and saddle. From all appearances, an hour later on our starting time would have delayed our summit by several hours.

The descent and hike out was uneventful except for when we met a large gathering at the bottom of the west scree slope. A family group of about 14 kids, parents, and grandparents had hiked in and climbed partly up the scree. Somewhat puzzled, we asked one of the older folks what was up. It turns out they were the family and friends of one of the three men that had died in the plane crash there last winter. They were visiting the crash site for a memorial. While the plane has been removed, there is still evidence of the crash - its about half way up the climbers trail to the south ridge and about 20 yards to the north. It was a somber event.

A quick swim at Big Lake to rinse off the soot and dust from the trail and we were on our way home. Another fun climb!


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