Mt. McLoughlin

September 18, 2004

This climb was in all respects (except the date) a winter climb. Snow was falling in the parking lot when we awoke, and when we set off at 7 a.m., it covered the climbers’ trail. We reached the summit by 10:35 in near white-out conditions, with snow falling and limited visibility. The snow had accumulated to a depth of 3 to 6 inches (climbers’ estimates vary) and trees were coated with a rime ice-like crust. Icicles grew on wool caps and on facial hair. Eyeglasses iced over; this very myopic leader found it easier to climb without his glasses — the choice was between bright, out of focus images and dim, grey ones. Boulders were covered with snow, and slick; it was difficult to tell where it was safe to step. Without much visibility, the summit ridge seemed to go on forever. We didn’t stay long on top, and on the way down followed our footsteps through the snow. Amazingly, though, large sections of the trail through the woods began melting out; the lower section, completely under snow just three hours before, was now totally bare. By the time we got back to the parking lot at 1:40 p.m., the sky was blue and the temperature was almost (but not quite) warm.

We were just a party of three, with Ken Horton leading us most of the way up the snow-covered climbers’ trail, Andy Jobanek (assistant leader) leading both up to and down from the summit, and George Jobanek (leader) leading us back to the cars, a wonderfully cooperative effort on a fun, interesting, and anything but ordinary ascent of Mt. McLoughlin. We cancelled our scheduled next day climb of Mt. Thielsen, to be led by Andy, because we were down to two climbers and the weather looked threatening. We were thus able to get back to Eugene in order to visit the Obsidian booth at the Eugene Celebration on Sunday.

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