Mount Jefferson is the second highest peak in Oregon and because of its summit pinnacle requiring Class 4 to 5 rock climbing or very steep ice encrusted rock, it is considered by some to be the most difficult of the higher volcanoes.
Jefferson is a likely extinct stratovolcano that last erupted about 40,000 to 50,000 years ago.
The mountain was named for President Thomas Jefferson by the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
For those interested in the geology, eruptive history, and geomorphology of the mountain this USGS Mount Jefferson page has all the information.
The first ascent was made 12 August 1888 by Ray L. Farmer and E.C. Cross. Details of first ascent.
Mount Jefferson is easily accessed via USFS roads and trails leaving from State Highway 22.
Two main approaches are used depending on the route to be climbed. These are via Jefferson Park and Pamelia Lake approaches. The easiest route to Jefferson Park is via the Whitewater Trail. The Pamelia Lake Trail is the best for that approach.
See the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness page for links to maps and regulations regarding each area.
Guidebook: Climbing the Cascade Volcanoes by Jeff Smoot
There a many routes on Mount Jefferson. All but a few are considered quite dangerous due to rockfall and avalanche hazard.
Those listed here are the routes considered to be safest from objective danger. Three of these are described here on SP.
See guidebooks for descriptions and ratings of the more dangerous routes.
Because of the summit pinnacle, all routes on Mount Jefferson involve at least Class 4 rock when clear of snow or very steep snow and / or rime encrusted rock.
The normal and easiest route on the summit pinnacle is from the north and is Class 4. There are other routes on the pinnacle ranging from reported 5.0 up to 5.7. All are on poor rock.
If approaching the summit pinnacle from the south via the Red Saddle, a very steep snow field must be traversed in order to reach the normal route on the north side.
From Jefferson Park:
Whitewater Glacier: Grade II, glacier travel and Class 4 rock – 10 to 12 hours from Jefferson Park. This is the most popular route on the mountain.
Jefferson Park Glacier: Grade III, glacier travel and Class 5.2 rock – 8 to 10 hours from Jefferson Park. This is the second most popular route on the mountain.
From Pamela Lake Approach:
Pamela Lake (Southwest Slope): 10 to 12 hours. Described as "the easiest, but most tedious route" on Mount Jefferson. Scramble and hike up the long loose southwest slope.
Hunts Cove (South Ridge): 10 to 12 hours. Similar to Southwest Slope it ascends the south ridge to the southwest shoulder.
Note that on both of these routes, you must still contend with the steep snow traverse to the normal Class 4 route on the summit pinnacle.
Red TapeMount Jefferson is located in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area, Willamette National Forest.
Wilderness regulations apply and there is one area that requires a limited entry permit.
See the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness page for details and links regarding regulations for this wilderness.
When To ClimbThe best time to climb from the North, East, and West is in late Spring when snow is plentiful and rockfall is less likely. The South and Southwest ridge routes are used year round due to limited rockfall risk.
CampingWilderness permits are required and some additional regulations apply to certain areas.
See the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness page for details.
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