With many of Washington’s most famous peaks now under my belt I was starting to feel the itch of climbing the West coast. So, this summer I planned to get Oregon’s 3 Highest peaks done in one year. With mount Hood already accomplished on a perfect winter day that left just Jefferson and South Sister. Though many people take two days to attempt Jefferson’s summit, I had chosen the Pamelia lake entrance option so that I could make a run at its summit in one. By Washington standards getting the permit for the entry point was a breeze. Happily I set up my bed in the back of my Rav 4 and headed for the trail-head in the middle of the night.
First View Of Jefferson At The PCT Intersection
The hike up to Pamelia lake and the connection the the PCT is easy. However, finding the route to get onto the southwest ridge was where I encountered my first issue of the day. Using a rough map that I found on Summit Post, I had attempted to draw a map to follow that would lead me up the ridge. However, the area I had marked as where I should turn off the PCT turned out to be an extremely steep run of forest that I could not work through. Instead I continued along the trail to a large clearing that seemed to be an avalanche chute.
After a brief rest for a check of my map and a gulp of water I looked up into the clearing. After some debate I decided just to move up the hill and look for the first opening that I could use to scramble up onto. Luckily around 200 ft up the hill, I found a good spot and attained the ridge.
View of Lake Pameila From The Avalanche Chute
First View Of Jefferson's Summit Along The South West Ridge
The Snowfield Traverse Below Jefferson's Summit
While it is difficult in its own right, the ridge is really just a steep hike on some really loose rock. There were a couple of snowfields that I climbed but they could have been just as easily passed by on rock if scrambling is more your forte. The really interesting part comes once you reach 10,000 ft.
Just to the south of Jefferson’s summit there is a small pass where the infamous snowfield traverse must be made. I had seen photos of it. I had looked at maps of it. Nothing though could have prepared me for the monumental precipice that it is. I Instantly felt the solitude that I had enjoyed up to this point. Working slowly across the snow slope was an incredibly tense 20 minutes. One step at a time I made it to the other side where I encountered the first people I had seen all day. It was a large group of 8 and the leader immediately looked at me with a questioning stare. He informed me that they had kicked steps all the way to the top for which I was extremely grateful. After the brief exchange I continued on toward the final summit climb.
Happily Strapped To A Rock On The Summit
The final push was still mostly snow-covered which made much of what I had expected to scramble far easier to traipse up in crampons. The last 20 feet or so though was bare rock and with a 45 mph wind blowing around it was considerably more difficult than I normally would have believed it to be.
Once on the summit I was forced to tie myself onto one of the rocks where others had left a rope. I quickly snapped a photo and stood in the harsh wind for as long as I could while taking in such a fantastic one day accomplishment. Outside of the length I found Jefferson to be a fairly straightforward and very rewarding climb. While I would say that it should be reserved for those with at minimum an intermediate knowledge of mountaineering, it is certainly not the unattainable goal that some sources had lead me to believe.