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Mount Jefferson, southwest ridge route

SACsters and Friends,

This past weekend Greg Swanson assisted by Fritz Capell led a real team effort to climb Mt. Jefferson and sit (9) souls on the summit, in fact all at the same time. Not only did we need to secure the traverse at Red Saddle, we needed to secure the pinnacle scramble due to fresh snow and some ice, even on a perfect warm blue-sky day. Fortunately Greg is both fearless, not foolish, and highly competent sitting up both the traverse, off belay, and then free climbing the pinnacle in snow/slush conditions to set the belay that would protect all members to the top and back safely.

Of the SAC (7) who made up the team, Mike, Jeremy, Aurora and Mark were all 2010 climb school students along with Fritz, Greg and Byron. We were joined at Red Saddle by Peter and John, (2) Mazama climb school grads with only (1) rope who joyfully accepted our invitation to join the summit climb. I'm pretty sure they will be joining our club as well. Of the team only Greg and I had ever been to the summit or even attempted the Mountain. Nonetheless Fritz made a free rock climb from Red Saddle almost to the summit and back down the north side of the traverse to assist Greg setting up the fixed picket line.

I was very impressed with the skills, teamwork and enthusiasm of all involved. Observing Mark, Jeremy and Mike belay teammates up the summit and then Greg across the traverse, I was very gratified that they understood and practiced everything we had taught them at climb school and I would be comfortable climbing with them anytime. They are smart, safe and very enthusiastic. As impressive was the high spirits and selflessness of the team even while descending Red Saddle as the sun set and getting back to camp after dark.

Personally I want to thank Mike Wilson who took an extra hour to accompany me off the mountain as I was worn out and very slow. But mostly I am very appreciative of Greg Swanson's role and skill as climb leader. Great effort, great team, I am proud to have my picture taken with them.

J. Byron Kellar

Route: See GPS route from the Pamelia Lake Trail head. About 9 miles hike to high camp at the tree line of the south ridge 7,830'. Then the standard climber's trail to Red Saddle, snow traverse of Westside and north side below summit. The pinnacle scramble was on belay. Back to Red Saddle by dusk, to the south ridge by sunset. Back to high camp under a cloudless, moonless star filled sky. Hiked out Sunday.

Santiam Alpine Club


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