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Home Forums TR Archive Oregon Volcano Raid Round 3: part 2 of 4 Three fingered Jack

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    Kyle Miller

    After a long night of sleeping at the Pacific Crest trailhead parkinglot at the base of 3 finger Jack I was awoken to something I hadn’t had to deal with thus far in the season. While the forecast called for partly cloudy skies I hadn’t expected it to be a complete and total white out up on Santiam Pass. My plans slowly started deteriorating as I patiently waited for the weather to clear with no avail. I knew that the snow conditions were not going to be any good and that my only chance of getting any riding in would be to hike out to the NE facing bowls. I was reluctant to hike the 6 mile approach on the Pacific Crest trail then bushwhacking a additional few miles to nail my objective as I felt it was a recipe for disaster. My original plans were to be on the trail by 9 a.m. at the latest but there I was reorganizing my car at noon studying the weather. I analized the weather for hours watching the cloud deck raise and fall all within 500 feet of my head and what direction the wind was going hoping for a break in the manotomy. After a while I decided the weather wasn’t going to get any better and if I wanted to get 3 finger Jack I was going to have to come up with another approach.

    After Analyzing the map for 10 minutes I realized there was another area I could start from that was half the distance to reach the NE bowl. So I drove over to the eastern side and was happy to see that the clouds had burned off over the crest. I drove to the Jack Lake trailhead and was greeted with sunny skies and views of the NE bowl. A few years back there had been a devastating fire that wiped out a lot of the old timber but the area was alive and vibrant with a new lush green floor. At first I started hiking the old summit trail but after a few miles I realized I was heading the wrong direction so I chose to take a more direct path to the NE bowl via a Easterly ridge. As I gained elevation the weather started deteriorating bringing along rain, Hail, strong winds and the kicker being low visability. As I created my own trail I felt fortunate that this was the one and only volcano within my trips that delivered rain compared to the sunny skies I had become accustom to.

    Hiking through the burn zone with the deteriorating weather above

    Hiking the old summit trail (notice the clouds burning off over the crest)

    The fire stretched for as far as the eye could see

    Once arriving at my high point the clouds rose one final time giving me views of the summit and my potential ski line. After a 15 minute traverse I was on top of the low angled slope using a boulder to protect me from the 40mph wind. The run was uneventful as I rode down the open upper slopes which transitioned to lower treed slopes.

    3 finger Jacks summit proper

    My destination

    Now those are some quality turns

    Once at the end of the snowpack I threw my snowboard on my back and hurried back towards the trailhead to get out of the elements. I followed Jack creek through the semi dense unburned forest until hitting the burn line which dramatically changed the landscape. Luckily the burned slope was open making for easy travels. After a half hour or so I found myself back on the Old summit trail for the final 2 mile strech back to my car and before long I was all packed up and driving towards my next destination.

    Back to the burn zone

    In conclusion 3 finger Jack doesn’t support the best mid winter lines but……. There are some sick lines to be had in the burn zone that surrounds it.


    Your hellbent on teh C.O volcanoes eh? Mad crazy going back to ski in July, it’s toasted usually by June. Unless you like riding suncupped, dirty, trenched out snow.

    Still my hat goes of to you, your a very goal-driven person. Nice work.

    Oh, there’s plenty of winter lines on 3FJ. The approach is a bit long, but not very steep. The stuff on the E. side loads like a mother and can really deliver some sick ass runs with cornice drops. And your right, all the burn zones deliver good glade riding during the winter. Very few peeps venture out there when it’s good.


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