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Mount Jefferson

Brent Hansen, Jay Gates and I started our trip under pure blue skies and expected high temps of 75 degrees plus at 9,100' elevation. The three of us left the Pamelia Lake trail head Friday morning at 7:25 am to meet up with the PCT just south of Milk Creek and then continue on the PST to Mud Hole Lake. We didn't really encounter solid snow cover on the PCT until about 4,800' to 5,000'; we continued on the PCT for quite a while and then finally lost track because of the ever increasing snow.

We had GPS coordinates for Mud Hole so we just bushwhacked our way there via the "path of least resistance" this ended up being much easier then trying to stay on the PCT. We arrived at Mud Hole Lake (which was just a snow field) at approx. 1:00 pm had lunch and headed east up the valley disregarding the climbers trail and again just following the "path of least resistance;" we decided not to continue to high camp at 7,700' but instead dump the heavy packs and make base camp at 6,350'. There were no liquid water sources so we melted snow.

Summit Day. We woke up to an eerily warm morning with moderate wind that blew most of the night reducing the snow level in camp close to 6 inches. We left base camp at 3:20 am side hilling the ridge to the left of the normal climbers trail and eventually crossing over the ridge to the snow fields on the left which took us to about 9,300' before jumping on to the crest of the South Ridge. The water was pouring out of the snow field even at 5:00 am. We boulder/rock climbed our way up to Red Saddle on a beautiful clear sunny morning.

From the Red Saddle we observed some light ice and rock fall across the traverse route. The three of us roped up and proceeded to make the traverse across the Western face on a virgin snow slope. The traverse was very, very steep--much more than it appears in these pictures. The snow was still fairly soft and it was very taxing cutting the traverse.

Once to the base of the summit pinnacle, we elected not to climb the actual pinnacle because of the warming temperature and an abundance of rime ice, snow, and slightly exposed rock. We made our way back across the traverse to Red Saddle for lunch just before noon.

I have come in now via both Woodpecker Ridge and Pamelia Lake trail heads and I personally would highly recommend Pamelia over Woodpecker Ridge.

Greg Swanson


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