Three Fingered Jack

June 28, 1981

We started from the Santiam Pass parking lot about 6:00 a.m. on a bright, clear, cool morning—eight of us in all. Five had climbed Three Finger Jack at least once before—Dave Lewinsohn, Lee Hatch, Victor Bellotti, Mark Long and Robert Scherer, the leader. Three were neophytes—never having done rope work on a mountain before—Cheryl Dewey, Margaret Crosland and Clarence Scherer. When we arrived at the Santiam Lakes trailhead, time was taken for shedding some of the warmer clothing as the sun was coming out in full glory. Three of the more swarthy males donned shorts, perhaps to later regret their decision when their sunburns became evident.

As our group hiked over the open stretches, beautiful views of the snow covered Three Sisters, Mt. Washington and Broken Top were there for all to behold. A more clear, unobstructed view of their grandeur would be hard to imagine. When we left the Pacific Crest Trail and started cross-country to the ridge, we encountered steep snow fields that were difficult to get footing on because they were frozen so hard. However, everyone negotiated the snow fields without too much difficulty and started up the semi-rotten ridge; many of us resorting to “all fours” to get enough traction to ascend the steeper slopes. The leader put out a guide rope for us on the well-known Three Finger Jack “crawl” and got us safely to the sheer rock wall where another rope was rigged to belay us to the landing before we tackled the pinnacle & achieved our goal about noon. Sitting on the pinnacle ledge and looking straight down a thousand feet or more on either side is not a recommended sedative for a squeamish stomach! Of the neophytes, Margaret Crosland proved to be the most adept climber; Cheryl Dewey, only recently here from Michigan and never having climbed anything higher than a five-story apartment building, proved to be the best sport willing to tackle whatever she was told to do even if she was suffering from “internal turmoil” of mountain exposure & Clarence took honors for being the oldest of the group. Lee Hatch achieved great credit for himself by slowing down to a “cautious, safe and easy” pace in traversing the “spines” of Jack. His favorite expression: “I just love climbing this mountain—think I’ll do it again in a couple of weeks.”

The most exciting part of the climb, of course, was to rappel down the sheer rock wall. We all made it with varying degrees of gracefulness, but with equal amount of thrill and fun. Our descent was done “nice and easy” and, then a leisurely hike back to the cars, arriving shortly before 5:30 p.m.

—Clarence Scherer


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