Mt. Jefferson

August 12-13, 2000

It was a little after one o’clock and all nine climbers had made it to the top of Mt. Jefferson. A few harmless clouds floated on the horizon. There is a solemn and cathedral-like splendor here that words cannot express. The silence is profound. The only sound is the occasional whistle of the wind in your climbing helmet. Surrounded by the alpine beauty of the Oregon Cascades, holding on to a few large rocks that form the summit of this extraordinary place, you realize being here is a gift. It is one of life’s special moments in time. Making sure of my balance, I shook Brian Hoyland’s hand. He had now joined the small club of past and present Obsidians who had climbed all of the ten major peaks in Oregon and qualified for the “Ten Peaks Award”. Brian got a picture of Peggy Lee Mathes. The only female on the climb, she had matched all of us in stamina and effort. The others were already on their way down, elated by success, but steeling themselves to the effort we all knew was required to safely negotiate the rocks and the crevasses back to camp.

The Whitewater Glacier Route has everything a mountaineer could want from a climb. We started by hiking the pleasant five-mile Whitewater Creek Trail to Jefferson Park, one of the absolute jewels of the Jefferson Wilderness. From Scout Lake we scrambled up snow and scree to a high camp around 8000 ft. at the edge of Whitewater Glacier. We put up our tents surrounded by a world only climbers know. The next morning we set out on the glacier in three rope teams. Finding our way through the crevasses was not easy. It is late summer and the crevasses were open, but we persevered, traversing our way around the mountain to the southeast ridge. From there we carefully made our way up loose rock and scree to 10,000 feet and the Red Saddle. The traverse across the steep, exposed snowfield below the summit pinnacle is the crux of the climb, but it was in good condition. A two-rope fixed line got everyone across. We set another fixed line across a less difficult but still spectacularly exposed snowfield to the start of the fourthclass scramble up the pinnacle. From there everyone dropped their packs and made the short but exposed rock climb to the summit. This is an exhausting and physically demanding climb. It takes not only technical competency but also courage. I was proud to be with this group of Obsidians, and for me this was one of the highlights of the summer.

Climbers were Brian Hoyland, Peggy Lee Mathes, Steve Stills, Shawn Lockery, Jim Pierce, Dick Snyder, Bill Johnson and Doug Nelson (assistant leader). John Pegg, leader.

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