Three Fingered Jack

August 13, 2005

Our group of three had an early 6:40 a.m. start from the PCT trailhead at Santiam Pass. Car camping the night before at Lost Lake had provided nice flat tent sites and a ten minute drive to the trailhead on Saturday morning. We climbed steadily through the burned forests of standing dead trees on the lower southern slopes of Three Fingered Jack. There are many groundcover plants recolonizing the burns like lupine, alpine aster, skyrocket gilia, bear grass, and fireweed. In some areas the trees are curled and twisted into arches by the intense heat, and in some places it was obvious that the soil had be burned sterile. We were relieved to find the forests seemingly untouched by the fires higher on the mountain. We made our way to the south ridge of Three Finger Jack using one of the many climbers trails leading upward from the PCT, and scrambled up the ridge to the base of the Crawl. We were the only group climbing, so we quickly passed the Crawl pitch. We left one of our two ropes fixed across the traverse using slings hitched around large rock knobs to provide minimal anchors at both ends. A peregrine falcon circled the summit while were scrambling up. The roped pitch up the summit pinnacle went quickly and we were on our way back down shortly after 1:15 p.m. The route-finding can be just as tricky on the way down as it is on the way up. Near the scree slope, we passed two climbers who were on their way up, the only other climbers we saw. We had a quick lunch break under a shady fir at the junction where the climbers trail joins the PCT. The hike down to Santiam Pass was hot, dusty and dry and we arrived back at the car at 6:30 p.m. We were back in Eugene by 8:30, tired but satisfied with our accomplishment. Climbers were Obsidians Mary Croson, Scot Hunt, and Brian Hoyland, leader.

Car camping at Lost Lake, about 10 minutes west from the trailhead by car.

The sun breaking over the south ridge as we ascend the climbers trail above the PCT, at elevation ~ 6700'

Scot rigging the belay just below the Crawl. Hayrick Butte, Hoodoo Butte, Mt. Washington and the Sisters group in the background.

Mary above the Crawl pitch climbing on a fixed rope with a prusik belay.

Scot ascending the Crawl pitch on the fixed rope.

Black Butte and the gargoyle at the head of the east buttress. Note the vast burned areas from 2003’s B&B forest fire.

The scary class 4 pitch just above the Crawl and the summit block.

Pinnacles along the northwest ridge of Three Fingered Jack, and the west face basin from the PCT.

Looking west from the PCT, the prominent Old Cascade Peaks are the Three Pyramids on the left, Green Peak is no longer green just right of center, Marion Peak is just below the flat-topped Coffin Butte on the right, and more of the B&B burn deep in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness.

—photos by Brian Hoyland

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