Three Fingered Jack

August 20, 1994

The first sight of Three Fingered Jack always brings a feeling of respect. This is an awesome mountain that looks un-climbable. Although it has been climbed thousands of times, it is always an adventure and not to be taken lightly. But our group of six climbers were up to the task and this climb turned out to be one of the most satisfying of the summer. We started at 6 a.m. from the P.C.T. trailhead at the Santiam Pass. It is five very long miles to the base of the mountain, but this goes quickly when the weather is so promising. By late morning we were high on the ridge and ready to attempt the first pitch of rock climbing — “the crawl”. There are a series of gendarmes on the ridge that one must negotiate in order to reach the summit pinnacle, and the only way around this one is a small ledge. You quickly find out why it is called the crawl, because after taking one look at the truly breath-taking space below you, your first reaction is to want to press yourself into the indented ledge and “crawl” around. This is a mistake, for the good holds are only available if you keep your rock climbing poise. The old piton is still there, and we used it for whatever protection it could give us. Jamie Schick belayed John Pegg across and the others followed on the fixed line. In no time, John and Jamie had climbed the very imposing 30-foot vertical chute and were belaying the others up. From there we carefully belayed the group one at a time to the summit rocks, about 15 feet above. Ed Lovegren was the only one to crawl out on the knife edge rock that is the “actual” summit. For the others sitting on the tiny rock at the top was like sitting on top of the world. Visibility was fantastic. For Larry & Judy Smith and Doug Nelson, this was their first climb of Jack, and they will never look at the mountain quite the same again. Ed Lovegren was as usual full of stories. I don’t think he knows how many times he has climbed the mountain, but it is a lot. For John Pegg, this was his first lead, and as we climbers know, being at the end of the rope is a whole different experience. It was good to have Jamie Schick, one of the best rock climbers in the Obsidians, as the belayer. He camped by Mt. Washington that night and climbed it solo the next morning! For the rest of us, a hot dinner, a shower, and the satisfaction of a great climb were more than enough. Climbers were Larry & Judy Smith, Douglas Nelson, Ed Lovegren, James Schick and John Pegg (leader).


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