It was the day of not only celebrating our nation's independence, but the time to assert our need for it away from our families. Jack turned out to be just the elixir--semi-hard, very-exposed climbing with a lot of challenges for gear placement, belay spots, and mosquitoes that seemed to have tiny oxygen tanks strapped on to their thoraxes. Great climb!
Left the PCT trailhead from the south. This is an easy walk-up, about five miles of gently graded trail terminating (for us) at the talus beneath the south ridge of Three-Fingered Jack (TFJ). This is where the mosquitoes found us, Bob and I, big, raging mobs of them, attaching to us like static cling in these huge, bloodthirsty formations that had you swatting off forty or fifty at a time. As we scrambled up the talus, to just beneath what solid rock existed at the beginning of the ridge they clung tight, biting away, forcing us to don long sleeve shirts and zip on the legs of our convertible pants.
Made the ridge just at the gateway to the "real" climbing on Jack, which is very, VERY exposed (maybe 3000 feet) we set up with Bob slinging a couple of horns and setting up a makeshift belay station, which would have held, but entailed massive whippers should I have fallen. Needless to say I was very balletic crossing "the ledge"-- where unlike all previous information the piton at it's beginning has been cut away and there is one at exactly the crux--a bulge about 15 feet further that you have to step up over to free the jones of the pitch. Above are a few rocks to sling and set up belay for your next man.
We scuttled up like this, setting up two more stations, until we got to the summit horn, where I used three cams (about .5 to 1) to protect the pitch, we both made the top, snaked back behind the rap slings already present and mounted another horn, about 12 feet, which probably should have at least a modicum of protection. The summit was here and the views were spectacular--Jefferson to the North, Washington to the South, the Sisters, our family somewhere near Sweet Home, our childhoods somewhere just out of our reach. Not to be too wistful but summits in Oregon are like no other in that there is still a mistiness that far up and you feel like you are watching down upon some still from old cinema. Had the mosquitoes not taken all our blood it would have been rather sentimental.
We did the self-rap for the horns, gradually picked our way down, reversed the crux, which was perhaps more difficult descending
because of the uncertainty of foot placement, made the ridge proper, regreeted our friends the mosquitoes (at about 7500 ft!!!) slid enjoyably down the scree, where we made the PCT and where we made the car at about 5:30pm. All in all, a great trip--not too epic, but with plenty of exposure to find one's fear out, and better rock than I expected--more solid handholds and less friable than other Cascade peaks. LIke our skin that survived perhaps more direct hits that it should have.
Bring: Plenty of slings, long ones, and 'biners or rap rings to set them up. A few cams for the horn (.5-1) and, if you have a sherpa, an industrial - sized barrel of mosquito repellent.