Matt and Joanne’s Page

July 21, 2006

3 Fingered Jack

Filed under: Climbing — Matt Stamplis @ 12:00 pm

Three Fingered Jack, at 7841 feet, is a long-extinct volcano in Central Oregon. We climbed this peak as part of Mazama group under Tim Scott’s lead. We started the climb at 3am to avoid traffic on the route. There were a few other climbers that we met on our way down. The climbing route begins on a section of the Pacific Crest Trail for a few miles before taking the climber’s trail up onto the South Ridge. The approach winds its way through a burn-area from a forest fire a few years back. Quite cool! Unfortunately the first time we passed through this area was in the dark and I didn’t see much. Only during the descent did we get the cool view.

Approaching through the burn-area.

The climbing route follows the South Ridge of the mountain, passing a few gendarmes. One thing I remember the most is the amount of mosquitos here. Just to give you an idea of how much mosquitos there were, you can literally slap your hand and kill 5 mosquitos at once. And to make it worse, it seemed like the higher we climbed the more mosquitos there were.

Once we approached the summit pinnacle, we rested here and roped up for the rest of the climb. We were just hanging out while waiting for Tim to set the fixed line. It was a little spooky because this is where a climber tripped and fell a year ago (around the same time as my Mt Washington accident) and plunged down many hundreds of feet.

Anyway, the first tricky section is the Crawl (see picture below). This section has 1 or 2 fixed pitons: there’s a couple other spots to place pro if you need it here. The Crawl is several feet wide and is more of a Walk but there’s a system of ledges below you that drop a thousand feet. And there is one or two exposed moves. So watch your step!

“The Crawl”…err…”The Walk?”…

After the Crawl, there’s a scramble up to the final summit block which goes up a weird sort-of chimmney. This is low-5th class with plenty of big handholds. The pro is mostly non-existent but fortunately the rock is some of the most solid on the mountain. With the size of our group, it wasn’t possible to get everyone to stand on the true summit (a small little platform) but we got within a few feet of it. It was still a great climb with cool view.

Our roundtrip time was somewhere around 9 hours, which was really quite fast, considering we had a team of 8 (I think) and had numerous fixed lines.

Approaching the summit. Nice knobs for handholds here.

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