Three Fingered Jack

March 11, 2000

Although it had rained in the mountains for several days before, nature had kindly dropped several inches of fresh powder during the night before our trip. Several Obsidians and non-member skiers met at 6:30 a.m. and waited 15 minutes for possible late arrivals before departing. Confidence was high, because although the trip objective was difficult, we felt we had a strong party for the task. We regretted the absence of John Hegg, a very capable skier who had signed up but failed to show up. The trip up the southeast ridge of Jack was basically a bushwhacking experience through snow-draped open forests and alpine meadows. The weather was delightful with little wind and intermittent sunshine. Our group moved fast and rapidly gained altitude on the ridge. Two of our skiers turned back at the 6000-ft. mark, as one did not have climbing skins needed for the final push. At nearly the same moment, we looked back and spotted a lone figure moving quickly up the ridge, following our tracks. The amazing John Hegg, apparently mistaken about the trip departure time, had driven up to the pass alone and had doggedly tracked us down over four miles of backcountry terrain. Now we truly had a strong group for the remainder of the ascent. Steering northwest, we skied into the southwest bowl below the peak. After a quick lunch everyone slapped on climbing skins and climbed the remaining steep elevation to gain the saddle at 6800 ft. Three Fingered Jack’s summit was intermittently hidden by low clouds, giving it a forbidding appearance, but there were clear views of most of the nearby peaks and lakes. As we packed away our climbing skins, one person dropped a ski which began to fly down the mountain, actually appearing to link some very nice turns, before it was rescued by the quick thinking Bill Montgomery. The wonderful powder was too enticing and the party broke up for a while in order to link turns and follow their own descent lines. The group collected again at lower elevation, as the sunshine and dropping temperature had caused deterioration in snow conditions. Still, everyone skied like kamikazes and were back to the cars by 5:00 p.m. (the leader arriving decidedly last). The happy skiers included Lew Bowers, Liz Conibear, John Hegg, Gil James, Bill Montgomery, Harold Thompson and Steve Goins (leader).

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