Three Fingered Jack

August 23, 2008

After a week of cool, damp weather we were fortunate to get a fine clear day for our climb of Three Fingered Jack. We camped at the PCT trail head at the Santiam Pass on Friday evening; rising early under a bright moon and stars to make the hike through the burn toward the mountain in the cool of the pre-dawn morning.

Our group of four moved steadily, slowing when we reached the upper mountain to move carefully on the steep and very loose rock slopes traversing along the west side under the “gendarmes,” or shorter rock peaks, that guard the true summit pinnacle. The last gendarme is passed on the east side via a narrow rock ledge called “The Crawl” that perches above the 800 foot near vertical cliff. We fixed a rope across The Crawl, then scrambled up to the base of the summit pinnacle. Jeff Thomas, in his climbing guide Oregon High, describes it like this: “Finish up horrid rock to the summit, a somewhat terrifying mixture of cinders and cobbles... The view is spectacular.”

We made short work of the last bit, working our way one at a time to the tiny summit using a rope set partially on slings left behind by previous parties. We each spent a few moments savoring our successful trip up the mountain, then started the second (and sometimes more difficult) half of the climb which is the descent. The trip down went well. The day was bright and warm, the flowers fine and the mosquitos voracious. We were all footsore and satisfied when we arrived back at the car about eleven hours after the trip began.

I enjoyed leading this trip again after a few years hiatus. I appreciated the help and support from fellow climbers and Obsidians Wayne Deeter and Larry Huff and enjoyed the chance to get to know prospective member Tom Spettel. Thanks guys. You all did a great job up there.

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