Steve and I checked out Mt. Jefferson for ski touring on the way back from Mt. Hood. Tilburg's backcountry ski Oregon guidebook talks about skiing the North Jefferson Glacier from 8500' down. The peak is 10,497, and you park at 4,100'. There are minor cracks on the glacier to negotiate above 8000', and it's really an alpine climb above that.
We started at 3:45am, having no guidebook or map. Just vauge directions from a last minute phone call with Steph who had those items safely tucked in my office at home.
You walk about 4 miles uphill on the Whitewater Trail, cross Whitewater Creek, and go north a mile on the PCT. We hit consistent snow at this point on the PCT, and just started skinning uphil through the clouds. Seemed like a lost day due to the weather, but we thought we'd feel our way up a little more. We had GPS, and our memories are 100% photorememberographic and stuff.
Holy crap! For a moment we thought we might just lucky enough today to make a climb of this beautiful glacier covered peak! I read about the climbers route on summitpost.org, and we had some rock and ice pro. Whimpy axes though, a 30 meter rope, and the snow was rock hard.
Oh oh, sucker hole. There was a climbing party up there at this moment. Sucked for them, the clouds came in thick soon and lasted all day. Tilburg's Oregen Ski Touring Guide and other articles I've read call Mt. Jefferson the most difficult volcano to summit. The North side is the easiest way to reach the top, which involves steep berschgrunds, a knife-edge catwalk, and 4th class super loose rock climbing at the top.
Looking down one of the gullies on the Jefferson Park Glacier. For scale, there is a large climbers tent on that large mount of scree.
Watch for rockfall. Nothing coming down today, no melting snow, wind, or people above. Doesn't mean a big one can't come flying down though!
Looking north at Mt. Hood where we'de been the day before. My drawn line is the Wy'East face we skied. Looks like good skiing from here! It wasn't....
Ya....um, I think waiting around is pointless.
This is really nice moderate ski terrain above Whitewater Creek. A few grand worth. I'll DEFINATELY come back, whether my future partners and I are prepared to climb the summit or not. It's a narrow window though. You can't go too early or the trailhead will be under snow. If you make it there, the actual route to Whitewater Creek traverses very steep south facing terrain. I assume that would be snow free fairly early. We'll get back to you on this one next May!
There is always that one spot on the mountain where terrible ski conditions change to pretty good. Like golf, you only need a few good shots to keep coming back. I'm wacked. I loved this day where I made 20 good feeling turns, just as much as winter ski tours where every turn is money snow.
Crossing Whitewater Creek near the PCT.
Not sure what these cool flowers were.
Next time I go for a hike, remind me to leave my ski gear and mountain bikes at home.