Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:57 am Posts: 137 Location: Above the clouds
Funk and Chronic back on it! Well kind of? No, not really......
If your looking for a trip report with sick summit drops and hero hucks, this is not it. This is a tale of bushwacking, humility, and some perserverance.
Your Author, chronicracing
As an Oregon surveyor who has spent more time off the beaten path than you're average bear. I feel like I have some "woodsey" cred. I am also quite comfortable in the alpine enviroment, and have had the opportunity to ride off the top of some of our Cascade giants.
Funk, nor I have ever visited Mt Jefferson (10,497') before. This trip was definitely looked at as recon with high hopes.
Friday 5/18/12 Funk picks me up at 6:00pm, shortly after we are south bound on I-5 to Salem. Then east on Hwy 22. Then shortly after Detroit Lakes we pick up FS RD 2246, which takes us to the Pamela Lake TH by 8:00pm.
After a quick encampment, a longer bs session and several beverages it was time to turn in.
Saturday 5/19/12 Up at 6:30am, breakfast, pack, and discuss plan of attack in no hurry. On the trail at 8:15, 3100'el.
Funk cruising thru the timber
The trail was typical Oregon beauty. Fast moving stream, ferns, firs, cedars, and hemlocks.
9:15, 3800'el- 2.2 miles later, it was snack time at Pamela Lake
9:45, 4000'el- 1 mile later, we were at the PCT. Now our original intentions were to go south on the PCT for a 1/2 mile. Then cut east through the timber up the SW ridge of Jeff, a known route. This did not happen. Once we saw the west flanks of Jeff, we were already enthralled by the sirens call.
So we went north on the PCT. 10:00- We hit Milk creek, it drains the west side of the mountain. At this point we spotted our future camp, @ 6000'. A treed ridge that divided the west crater. Yeah! Yeah! We can ride the south col to camp today. Then the north col tomorrow, and with a little luck we can pull a Kyle Miller and free solo the 500' mixed climb summit block! Yeah! Yeah!
So we decided to head up Milk creek, and ascend the ridge later.
Notice Funk still rockn' the approach flip flops.
10:30- After a couple hundred yards we came to the snow tunnel of doom.
It was early in the day. I figured the several hundred pound rocks that sat upon the roof would stay put. So I explored, minus a nice skylight it was a dead end tunnel. Time for plan B.
10:40, 4400'el- Not wanting to back track too much. We spotted this.
It looked climb-able, a little brush, and blowdown. It looked good as long as you passed the bs. There was timber to cruise thru. Gain the ridge, walk the top to camp. It was time for Funk to don the ass-kickn' sparks.
Chronic leads 100' vert of loose soil and rock.
11:00- Thankfull to reach woody vegetation with solid roots.
Light brush, dead fall, and some kind of vegitation that leaves needle like spines in the hands. We reach a series of 4' tall basalt bands. As I climbed up through the bands I felt part of the rock seperate! Oh Sh****t, it's big! Immediately I tried to lean against it to buy time. No way! It's against my upper chest and lower thigh.... I'm being pushed back.... getting twisted.. falling backwards in the deadfall and brush....before I lose all leverage..... I heave into it, roll with it... and yell roooooccckk! As I flow around with it...I look 30' vert down hill at Funk. He doesn't move! The rock crashes within feet of Funk and inches? of his gear. After we make sure were OK, we estimate the rock to be a good 400 lbs. Funk reassured me that his cat like reflexes were in order. That he assessed the situation according to the other rocks that had bounded down the slope, and if need be he would have dove behind the larger rock that had stopped it. Well, it was time to continue on. I didn't want the adrenaline to wear off, and muscles to get cold. I had sustained some cuts and scrapes, but mechanically I felt mostly in order.
Up over the last band, we realize the timber most have been some kind of mirage. There were sparse pockets of trees and a sea of vine maple, alder, dogwood, salal, madrone, cascara, cherry, manzanita. This was not good! Experience has told me steep, loose, rocky, south aspect slopes are horrible for woody brush and here we are! Down climbing not an option. Side hilling with cliffs below, not an option. If this brush were straight and true it would be 30' tall, but no this is steep slope growing downhill, sun reaching 10' tall, interwoven, microvilli from the bowels of hell! On an Oregon brush scale of 1-10. This was an 8, but with overnight packs, branch catching splits, twig snagging ski poles it felt like a 10d+.
The only way to pass is straight up through it. First untangling the overhead branches pulling them down, stepping on them, and repeat. This is what we did for a 1000' vert and 2000' horizontal. Amongst the cursing and swearing, the unspoken common thought was spoken. Do we start working our way west to the PCT and bail. Let's reassess that at 3:00.
2:30, 5400'el- We finally made it thru the demoralizing brush. Exhausted we sit down on a rock outcropping with a view.
After a little food and drink we had a decision to make. We were near the top of the ridge which had easy hiking snow. Do we bail and cut down it to the west to the PCT, presumably alot less brush. Or do we head east to camp, and at least ride the drainage out. I see the route out, though it appears to have a lot of loose rock ready to fall down on it.
NOAA forecasted Sat: Partly sunny 7000'FL Sun: Mostly cloudy 11,000'FL. Sun nite: 50% of rain
Pretty sure were headed to camp, but then doubt comes in. The fronts moving in fast. We've lost partly sunny. Moved on to mostly cloudy and I smell rain. What happens if we climb and it doesn't soften?
Time to contact our remote 3rd. Text to Christoph Benells "w/11000fl & possibly no sun. Do u think it will soften 4 the ride?" Reply: "Hard to say...but i would think a cloudy night would be warmer than a clear night right? I say go for it!" The affirmation we needed. Thanks remote 3rd!
Onwards, we boot the last 2000' to camp.
4:40, 6000'el- at camp; set-up, eat, drink, and enjoy views.
Funk and Chronic, feet up, in hammock, intaking medicating mother's milk. Did it really just take us 6-1/2 hours to go 3/4 of a mile and 1600'el?
The sirens call, North col
North col, Summit, South Col
Three Finger Jack
Middle and North Sister
M,N Sister & Three Finger Jack
Funk turns in, Travelin' Light
Yes, 2 pics I was ready for the best 9 1/2 hours of the trip!
I don't know PNW tropical, it must of been the whiskey and PM's kickin in.
Sunday 6:00am- Get up, start packing up to a light drizzle. Yeah this is the end of our epic May. Well the snow's soft, thanks Chris. We start booting up the ridge. Summit's out, cloud deck wavering between 7000' and 8000'.
We continue to a group of rocks at 7150'. Rain and wind, vis up high no bueno. Ok Jeff we get it!
Funk concurs, time to ride!
1200' face, redemption turns, chronic in middle.
Funk escaping the all consuming cumulus.
We cruised another mile on the north side of the drainage. When things began to get narrow. The finger of snow appeared to have gone thru a cosmic lawnmower. At every severed joint spurted out a waterfall.
What's that ahead?
Yep, another waterfall.
And from there just one more waterfall to avoid, small cliff to down climb. Cross the treacherous south drainage fork, which looked like someone poured tons of mashed potatoes down a waterslide and let them pile up. Meander thru brush(you could see the ground) down to the PCT and Milk creek 10:30am.
Put away the ice ax, don the flip flops and then drinking beer at the TH by noon.
The amount of damage we witnessed in the lower part of the drainage is a testament to how gnarlly Jeff can be. There were a lot of shattered trees, large boulders (on top of the snow) and massive avy debris piles and flows.
Please excuse any glaring grammatical errors, and spelling. It's late, and mama tried, mama tried.
After last week's Adam's trip; twice the distance, twice the elevation gain, on a mountain 1800' taller. In less time. Jeff was truely a humbling experience.
Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2006 8:29 am Posts: 583 Location: Oregon
Nice summary, sounds like quite the time for sure. That west side of Jeff has always intrigued me, but really looks like a bear to get to. Glad you were able to salvage some decent turns out of the trip.....
_________________ "There is nothing more practical in the end than the preservation of beauty." - Theodore Roosevelt
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:57 am Posts: 137 Location: Above the clouds
Thanks for all the kind words fellas. It felt long writing it, or maybe I was reliving it too much.
The peak you are calling Broken Top is Three Fingered Jack. In your first shot of it, Mt Washington is the peak behind and to the left of it.
Good catch Buell, noted and corrected.
Consideing your experience, Is there a better route up the w/sw side of the mountain from Pamelia?
I see 3 options.
1) I'd recommend from Pamelia. Take the connector to the PCT. Head north on the PCT till about a mile past the Milk creek. Then east thru the tallest timber to gain the dominant ridge. I think this is the safest. The ridge is an excellent base camp and provides access to all the west flank terrain. I intend on taking this route next season as soon as the TH opens.
2) From Pamelia, east thru the timber gain the SW ridge, take it to the summit block. I've read this is a solid route. You could drop in from here. Personally I don't like to ride anything I haven't climbed. Then there's always the exit thru the lower drainage.
3) From Pamelia, same as #1, but follow the south bank of Milk creek east. I think this could be really sketchy. We saw a lot of rock and large shattered trees on top of the snow. The SW ridge is steep with a lot of loose rock. I saw at least 1 choke point. The condition of all the snow in this part of the drainage looked like a cross between wet avy debris and a fast moving glacier. It had nasty looking flow, and would not be fun to ride on. We past quickly and carefully over it.
It seems like the west side of Jeff, has it's own special micro climate. It's the only part of the mountain without a name worthy glacier. There was a remarkable lack of snow. No snow @ 5400' except in the drainage, when there was 6' of snow on Adams and 11' @ 6000' on Hood. The snow must melt, move fast and have a general violent instability.
Joined: Tue May 22, 2012 4:06 pm Posts: 16 Location: Bend, OR
Hey Brother nice effort out there. I've been smited down my share of times in the Cascades as well. I was curious about the condition of Milk Creek. Last July my friend and I were able to hike up continuous avalanche debris all the way from the PCT/Milk creek junction. Interesting to see what that looks like now. Dave made an excellent video of the trip. https://vimeo.com/26636862 It was his third effort on the line.
(I'm new to online forums. I tried to embed by pasting the embed code between [vimeo][/vimeo] but was unsuccessful. Any ideas?)