Mt. Jefferson

August 10-11, 1991

This was my first time as a leader on Mt. Jefferson, and the mountain spirits smiled on me and gave us success total, complete and wonderful success, the kind you only dream about! Our group of eight hiked in from Pamelia Lake trailhead in mist and occasional rain. I planned to try and find “Camp Donnelly” above Shale Lake, but the lack of snow at lower elevations made us decide to camp slightly above Mud Hole Lake, near Shale Lake, about 5,980 feet. Only 5,517 feet left!

Up at 2:30 a.m. and on the move by 3:40, seven of us started up the mountain towards the South Ridge. Karin Thompson’s knees would not let her climb that day, so she stayed in camp. Stars and clear skies indicated good weather. Perseid meteors streaked the sky. Sunrise was spectacular. A few clouds floated below us. I knew nothing could stop us now. We arrived at the Red Saddle at 11:20. Setting the protection on belay over the traverse was a thrill. The traverse was cut by a few deep gullies, possibly from a large rock fall, that made the crossing even more hazardous, but the snow was perfect for pickets and the protection (I knew) was solid. It would be tested … Coming across, Dale Trourud, who is a good 250 lbs., slipped and slid. Those who have seen this traverse know there is nothing between you and h*** without the safety of a rope. Amy Crook, climbing ahead on the fixed rope, was pulled off and fell. The protection held, they recovered, and continued across as if nothing had happened! There was a lot of steep snow around the bottom of the pinnacle, so we wisely protected the rest of the way to the chute and up to the top. All this was taking time. I kept looking at my watch, but it was too late to turn back. The summit was ours. It was now 3:30 p.m., but the weather was perfect. Warm sunshine and wind, a few harmless clouds below us. The Cascades spread out before us from north to south. Crossing back over to the Red Saddle, Amy fell again! Again she recovered and made the traverse. What courage! But it was now 6:30 and it was a long way down the mountain. Darkness found us at about 7,000 ft., with Tom leading the way on a compass bearing he had taken earlier. At 10:30, stumbling over rocks and through trees, I was waiting until we hit the Pacific Crest Trail so we could back-track to camp, when I heard Tom say, “Karin, are you there?” and I heard Karin’s voice. We were back! We had hit camp by dead reckoning in pitch darkness. Thank you, mountain spirits, I said, and crawled into my sleeping bag.

Participants were Bill Bankston, Karin Thompson, Amy Crook, Linda Romans, Dale Trourud, Sandra Poinsett, Tom Donnelly (assistant leader) and John Pegg (leader).

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