Three Fingered Jack

August 7, 1988

Plans to spend a relaxed evening at Big Lake before our climb of Three Fingered Jack were brought to an abrupt end when we arrived at one of the most congested campgrounds I’ve ever seen. Hoards of three wheelers, dirt bikes and other noise makers made the decision to camp at the PCT trailhead rather than Big Lake an easy one. Although not as scenic, we did have the area to ourselves and were able to meet and chat with fellow climbers. Deer continually visited our camp the entire night (not enjoyed by the lighter sleepers in the party).

We were on the trail by 6:00 a.m. The morning was cool and clear, allowing us to make good time. After a couple of hours we left the PCT to “bushwhack” up the main south ridge of Jack which provided for some interesting rock scrambles, as well as beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and environs. As we approached the gendarmes we donned our climbing helmets and started the “real climbing.” By 10 a.m. we were at the “crawl” where a fixed line was set. Having five people along who had not been on Jack before, it was interesting to hear the comments — “This is it!,” “It doesn’t look so bad…,” “gawd!!!.” The reality is in the doing and before long we all had a chance to savor the “crawl” first hand. For some the first opinions were altered slightly, for others — well, they just didn’t say much at all. Comments aside, everyone came across like a pro and it was on to the summit pinnacle. All climbers were belayed up the summit chimney to the belay point, where they clipped into a fixed line to go the last short distance to the top. With real estate at a premium on the top of Jack it was necessary to sit on the summit in shifts. Everyone had put in their shift by about noon. A rappel was set up for those who wanted to use it to come down from the summit pinnacle. In the midst of all the action there was plenty of waiting time for folks to get the perfect picture, have lunch, etc., etc., etc. The weather was great so we spent a lot of time at or near the top, and it was getting well into the afternoon before we were back down across the crawl. From there is was back down the ridge a ways and then down the steep scree to the PCT. A relatively fast hike out brought us back to the cars by late afternoon. Weary from along day, we said goodbye and headed our separate ways satisfied that we’d climbed another one. I have to say thank you to this group — Linda Erz, Dana Gardner, Kim Gagnon, Ed Lovegren, Royal Murdock, and John Pegg — because it is being a part of groups like this one that makes leading worth the effort. Also a special thanks to Ken Daletas for assisting so capably on the climb.

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