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The Jack Mountain Assault: A 4 Day Epic

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The Jack Mountain Assault:  A 4 Day Epic

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: Washington, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 48.77274°N / 120.95643°W

Object Title: The Jack Mountain Assault: A 4 Day Epic

GPX File: Download GPX » View Route on Map

Date Climbed/Hiked: Jul 21, 2012

Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling

Season: Summer

 

Page By: Josh Lewis

Created/Edited: Aug 4, 2012 / May 19, 2013

Object ID: 804034

Hits: 3219 

Page Score: 88.61%  - 27 Votes 

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Introduction

"The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone, is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been." -Albert Einstein

Jack Mountain is rarely ever climbed due to it's all around alpine difficulty. The Previous year Yem and I made an attempt up Jack Mountain in icy conditions. This time I came more prepared with better mountaineering skills, went in better condition, and brought my ice tool as a second axe. But it still ended up being an epic trip with many exciting moments as well as getting on the edge of my comfort level. This mountain lives up to it's reputation.

It has been unusually cloudy this summer making it difficult to obtain a good weather window. When the forecast looked halfway decent, we knew that this would be the best time to make a go for Jack. Yem picked me up from my house on the morning of July 19th. On the way we enjoyed a quart of chocolate milk which is part of my mountaineering tradition.


Jack Mountain South Face Diagram
Our Route up Jack Mountain

Day 1: Going into Jerry Lakes Basin

We arrive at the Canyon Creek trailhead around noon which meant that the day was already hot. The trail to "Crater Lake" is about 62 switch backs (we counted both on the way up and down) with about 3,900 feet of elevation gain. Crossing the creek this time was not as bad, although we still had to take our shoes off. Before arriving at the lake there were some downed trees on the trail which we had to climb over or go around. At the lake I had to go from tennis shoes to plastic boots due to the wet spots and eventually snow patches. The ending of the trail marked the beginning of the scramble up to the Jerry Glacier Saddle. There was a little bit of loose rock which is why I waited for Yem to climb up all the way until I would go up. I admit climbing in plastics isn't quite as friendly for scrambling as shoes. At the top of the scramble was a large snow patch that took us all the way to the saddle (7,200 feet).
Majestic Mountain
Majestic Mountain
Kimtah and Cosho Peak
Kimtah and Cosho Peak
Scrambling above the Lake
Scrambling above the Lake
Looking toward Crater Lake
Looking toward Crater Lake
Heading towards the Jerry Saddle
Going to the the Saddle
Looking up at Crater Mountain
Looking up at Crater Mountain
Jack Mountain With Wavy Clouds
Jack With Wavy Clouds
Jackita Ridge during Evening
Jackita Ridge during Evening

Waterfalls on Crater Mountain
Waterfalls on Crater Mountain

At the saddle we could see Jack Mountain and our camping destination below. We took a break and roped up for the Jerry Glacier. The rest of the way was an easy walk down about 1,300 feet of elevation loss. As we were hiking down I could see clouds rising over Jack Mountain making it questionable whether we would make a summit bid the next day. Finally we arrive at the Jerry Lakes which after a little searching we found a flat place to camp. As I cooked dinner I enjoyed the alpenglow on Crater Mountain. After this we got some well deserved rest.

Yem Heading Up
Yem Heading Up
Heading towards Jack Mountain
Heading towards Jack Mountain

Hiking on the Jerry Glacier
Roped up for the Jerry Glacier

Sunset on Crater Mountain
Sunset on Crater Mountain

Alpenglow on Crater Mountain
Alpenglow on Crater Mountain

Clouds before the Storm
Clouds before the Storm

Jerry Lake Reflection
Jerry Lake Reflection

Pink Sky from Camp
Pink Sky from Camp

Day 2: Waiting out the Storm

In the middle of the night it started to rain which is when I had to get up and put on my pack cover to prevent it from getting soaking wet outside. Sometimes I would wake up to the booming of thunder. During the morning was when the thunder was at it's worst which we could hear it crashing though the valley. Both of us were completely unmotivated to go outside which I slept in until about 2 p.m.

Our Main Camp
Our Camping Spot near the Lake

The rain still continued which even the idea of advancing our base camp soon fell out of the question. Yem told me an amazing story of finding his dog in San Diego and other fun conversations as more hours pass by. Even during evening the sky was foggy making me wonder if the weather would cooperate during summit day. Even though I slept so much the previous night I still managed to sleep great that night as well.

Misty View from Camp
The only View we got that Day

Day 3: The Summit Assault

We woke at about 6:45 a.m. and made breakfast. Yem figured an early start would actually be a bad thing considering that on our previous attempt the icy traverse was some of the more sketchy climbing that I've ever done. We were on the move by 7:57 a.m. crossing around the Jerry Lakes. Once we were back on snow I took the lead because I was the only one with plastic boots which went though the snow like butter. And besides I love kicking in steps. The Saddle above was not as dangerous this time because of there being less snow. Once past the snow section we had to do an easy scramble section and then traverse to the saddle. At the Saddle we could barely see Jack Mountain though the clouds. Once again we had to drop down the valley and lose our beautiful elevation. As we went down there was a little bit of bushes which I kept my crampons on to make going down easier even though we were not on snow most of the time. At the bottom we finally stepped foot on Jack Mountain.

Crater Mountain s Summit
Crater Mountain's Summit
Crater Mountain Clearing Up
Crater Mountain Clearing Up
Clouds over Crater Mountain
Clouds over Crater Mountain
Yem Scrambling Up
Yem Scrambling Up

Jack Mountain Covered in Clouds
Jack Mountain Covered in Clouds

I decided to go left to stay on snow as long as possible. Good mountaineering is about taking the path of least resistance, not the most direct way. I don't mind challenges, but no sense in going though bushes when you don't have to. As we hike up though the snow Jack Mountain comes out of the clouds, our good weather window had finally arrived. We continued on past our old camping spot from last year and got onto the first major snowfield of Jack Mountain.

Crater Mountain s West Face
Crater's West Face
Point 7292 on Jack Mountain
Point 7292
Waterfalls on Jack Mountain
Waterfalls on Jack
Jackita Ridge Below
Jackita Ridge Below

Jack Mountain Clearing Up
Jack Mountain Clearing Up

The first Snowfield on Jack Mountain
The first Snowfield on Jack Mountain

Yem crossing the Snowfield
Yem crossing the Snowfield

The snow conditions were nearly perfect. Not too soft, but easy to make steps for traversing. I was very pleased that I felt fully comfortable on this, the previous year was so icy that I dreaded every step. After traversing I went straight up the mountain towards our entrance onto the route. The tactic I used was easier because it avoids up sloping traverses. After an hour from when we entered onto the snowfield we arrived on the rocky section.

Looking up Jack Mountain
Looking up Jack Mountain

Going up this part was much easier using crampons on the loose rock. We curved around the corner where it starts to become class 3. I took off my plastics and swapped to shoes. There was a cairn or two that ensured that we were going the right way. After more class 3 scrambling I come across a rappel sling and start to think "this route doesn't get any harder than class 3". A few seconds later my attitude changed very rapidly. The route traversed across a very exposed section that required very careful use of hands. I took one picture and put my camera in my pack (I usually don't put it away on scrambles). I admit that the class 4 section made me nervous, had to carefully plan out exactly where the steps were and test the holds. The rock was loose and crumbling away, looking down I could see rocks tumbling thousands of feet down the mountain in high speed. But I managed to feel fairly comfortable on this terrain. And I know I shouldn't be!

Hiking Above the First Snowfield
Hiking Above the First Snowfield
Looking Down Below
Looking Down Below

Class 3 Scrambling
Class 3 Scrambling

Once I arrived at the second rappel sling, I could look directly down on my partner which was an amazing perspective. After a little while I set down my pack and climbed down to make sure that he was doing ok with the class 4 section. Once we both arrived safely at the rappel sling we were past the crux of the climb. But we still had a ways to go. I decided to take the ridge looking route up which was usually class 2 with a few class 3 spots. Eventually it ended which Yem told me that we had to get over to the snowfield on the left. To get there we carefully traversed over and slightly downward. Then the rest of the snow climbing was upwards. This part of the climb was an amazing experience for me.

Yem Climbing Across
Yem Climbing Across
Class 4 Traverse
Class 4 Traverse

The Ridge Up
The Ridge Up

Hiking on the upper Mountain
Hiking on the upper Mountain

We used both axes at this part for speed and control going up the slope. Looking down was still exposed, but I didn't feel one bit nervous. I was excited as I kicked in each step saying to myself "This is Climbing as it should be". Yem and I joked back to each other saying random "Touching the Void" quotes. One of them being that "Climbing makes you feel more alive". The adrenaline was pumping and I knew that I was in my element. It had taken us about an hour and a half to climb the snowfield when we arrived onto the summit ridge.

Looking down on my Partner
Looking down on my Partner

The Summit Ridge
The Summit Ridge

Jack Mountain s West Ridge
Jack Mountain's West Ridge

The ridge was quite pleasant, the rock was good for the most part and it was much safer than all the other climbing we did that day. Looking behind us was the West Ridge of Jack. The clouds were divided right at the ridge making it have a neat atmosphere to the place. There was one snow patch that I had Yem lead because I was in my tennis shoes. With a little more scrambling and a walk up "The Ramp" we arrived on the summit of Jack Mountain! On the summit I celebrated by having a pack of Oreo's with some milk (we used powdered milk). I promised Yem some which I was enjoying them so much that by the time I had only 3 left I realized I had to share. The views were quite incredible, but after about 30 minutes we had to make good time down the mountain.

Nohokomeen Glacier covered in Clouds
Nohokomeen Glacier
Snowfield Peak though the Clouds
Snowfield Peak with Clouds
Snow Patch near the Top
Snow Patch near the Top
The Last few Steps
The Last few Steps
Mount Logan s North Face
Mount Logan's North Face
Mount Buckner
Mount Buckner
Black Peak to the South
Black Peak to the South
Pyrimid Peak with Clouds
Pyrimid Peak with Clouds

Cloudy Atmosphere over Forbidden Peak
Cloudy Atmosphere over Forbidden Peak

Looking Down the East Side
Looking Down the East Side

A Scary Descent

I had not fully realized the gravity of what we had climbed. Going up I felt fantastic, but it wasn't until we started to go down that I realized that we had a situation coming up. We quickly scrambled down the ridge and got to the snowfield where I once again swapped to my plastics. As we climbed down the snow I was amazed at what we had gone up, but I was still feeling relatively comfortable. Going down took a lot of kicking in steps and ice ace placements. It was getting late in the day making it important that I down climb as fast as I safely can. At the bottom of the snow I carefully fill up our water bottles. It was a precarious spot to place my pack, but I knew that I had no choice. I was becoming very thirsty from all the kicking steps and could start to feel cramps coming on.

Forbidden Peak Cleared Up
Forbidden Cleared Up
Golden Horn and the Needles
Golden Horn and the Needles
Traverse Section to the Other Snowfield
Traverse Section
Light Clouds during Evening
Light Clouds during Evening

Green Scenery in the Pasayten Wilderness
Green Scenery in the Pasayten Wilderness

Mount Goode to the South
Mount Goode to the South

From here we went slightly up and were soon off the snow. The down climbing had taken us about 2 hours. I swapped back to my shoes fast (every time I did this, to save time I kept the crampons and gators attached and put it in my pack) and was back to scrambling down. Every now and then one of us would send a rock down which we had to be careful about how we were in position of each other. I was surprised how fast we managed to get down to the second rappel sling. This is where things got scary.

Scrambling Down
Scrambling Down

We got the rope ready and put it though the rappel ring, my biggest worry came true. It didn't reach. Looking down I dreaded the idea of having to get off the rope and down climb the last section. I knew that if there was anyone to go down first, it would have to be me. Looking around I said aloud "there's gotta be another way". We both knew there wasn't. This was the only way down. The rappel position was the worst I've ever seen. The people who put up the webbing couldn't have done much to fix this. With the slightest tug the webbing moved which worried me. We secured it on as best as we could. I said a prayer and got on with the rappel.

To start out I had to go over to the right where there was a minor ledge. With one hand I held on to the brake and the other I held the rock. I had to traverse more towards the webbing to get it in motion. But as I got closer it became increasingly more over hang like. My arms were exhausted from the climbing and were starting to give way. I could not figure out a safe position to get to. If I fell, I could majorly swing and pull the sling in a bad direction. I was starting to shake from how scary it was and how strenuous it was. I was getting so tired that I couldn't grip my brake. If I fell it would be fatal. I was terrified. I was almost to the point of tears wondering what I could do. Yem could see that I was not having a good time and finally said "I'm going to have to ask you to take a leap of faith". My heart was pounding, I was trembling, but I knew that I could no longer stand idle. As hard as I could, as careful as possible I managed to brake in a awkward position and I fell back. The rock held and I continued to rappel down. I was breathing so heavy by this point, when I reached the bottom I was still breathing heavily in disbelief of what just happened. But we still were not down.

I unclipped my device and looked for a way down. I made sure the ropes were even and called up that the rappel was as good as it can be. I suddenly heard the whistle of a rock coming right by me shattering into pieces and sailing down the mountain. I immediately hurried to an overhang spot, ducted my head, and hoped that I wouldn't get pelted by a rock. I heard more coming down as I waited on my insecure spot. One foot was being held up by a small hold, while the other I felt slowly sliding down. I was still terrified. As I look over I see the mountains glowing gloriously with orange and red colors. Normally I can take photographs on ledges and strange place, but not this time.

Finally Yem arrives down which we had two options for going down. Both of them looked bad. After making careful observations one of them looked outright awful and would be a serious mistake. The one on our right however was possible but not pleasant. Yem came up with a fabulous idea of girth hitching a sling to another sling to the rope. This would give me just enough length to get to the class 4 section. I carefully down climbed this section and on to the class 4 section. Yem mentioned the idea of leaving my rope, he could tell right away that although I might say yes, he knew I might possibly go back for it. So he saved my rope by soloing that section which I very much appreciated.

Epicing on the Side of the Mountain

The sun had already set which we now had to make best of the remaining day light left. We some what quickly scrambled down the class 3 section and around the corner came back to the snowfield. Going up this class 2 section with crampons was much easier than hiking down in shoes because of the loose rock. I swapped back to boots and we got our headlamps out. It was back to kicking steps and ice axe plunging.

By now it was officially night. The snow was solidifying making every step and axe placement more difficult than coming up. Eventually we reach the bottom and can faintly make out our tracks. The sun melted out our steps for the most part making it hard to see where exactly they were. I told Yem "When you get to my house, you can have all you can eat ice cream". It took a while to cross the snowfield which once we were on the other side I could finally start having thoughts "I think I'm gonna make it out alive"! When we got onto the rock it was hard to make out exactly where we were. "I can't see Jack's eastern high point" I said to Yem which was a sign of us not traversing enough. I kept my crampons on because I was too tired to bother with them, plus they helped with the scree.

We had a rigged idea of where we were, but could not find enough evidence of places we been. So we decided to go to the snow and find the bowl which would lead us back to our tracks. "Found the trail" I said with a smile. A few minutes later I announced "lost the trail". Our route up went to the right of where we were, but unfortunately we turned too early. It was steep down below as we traversed on snow. Finally it was time to turn around and back track. Back at our newer tracks we cut right though the bushes. Yem mentioned "You don't mind if we sleep here on the mountain?". At first I didn't like the idea which we did a little more exploring and found a creek. With it was two okay spots to sleep on. "I admit, I'm pretty beat myself" I said. So I approved of the idea and filled up our waters. Unfortunately I had forgotten my shell pants back at camp which I only had shorts for my legs. Yem had some thin long johns he let me borrow. Camp was still a long ways away, and if we were to have tried it we had a bit of elevation gain as well. Oh how I wished that my -20 degree bag that was at camp was with me.

I managed to get perhaps 3-4 hours of sleep that night. But every time I woke up I felt very cold and was shivering. Those parts of the night felt very long. I felt so thirsty yet I did not want to move and lose heat. During the early light hours Yem and I were not getting anymore sleep which we were both shivering. Finally we got up, and started the hike down.

Day 4: The Long Haul Home

We did a little bit of traveling though bushes but were down at the bottom in decent time. Looking behind us I could see steams of clouds coming in which I figured meant a storm. We hiked back up to the saddle in about an hour and was able to see our camp down below. Carefully we hiked down to the lake and back to camp. After a good breakfast I took a half hour nap. Yem woke me up and said we had to go. All sorts of mosquitoes were buzzing around the tent. I felt unmotivated to go outside, but knew the sooner we got out, the better. As I packed my gear I had to keep circling the camp to reduce the chances of getting bit. This made packing take longer. The mosquitoes were getting quite bad which is why I was happy to leave the camp spot.
Alpenglow on Jack Mountain
Alpenglow on Jack Mountain
Sunrise to the South
Sunrise to the South
Streaming Clouds
Streaming Clouds
The View above Jerry Lakes
The View above Jerry Lakes

Jack Mountain during Morning
Jack Mountain during Morning

Slowly we slog up hill toward the Jerry Glacier. By the time we arrive the clouds had fully come in making it low visibility. I had Yem lead this part because my legs were tired from all the snow kicking the previous day. Hiking though the fog we missed the saddle. Fortunately it clears for a short spell and we see the way we need to go. At the edge of the glacier we unrope and take a short break.

Where are we?
Where are we?
Clearing in the Fog
Clearing in the Fog
Looking Above at the Saddle
Looking Above at the Saddle
Our Exit over the Jerry Glacier
Our Exit Out
Looking Down Crater
Looking Down Crater
Waterfalls near the Lake
Waterfalls near the Lake
Marsh Marigold Flowers
Marsh Marigold Flowers
Camp Spot near  Crater Lake
Camp Spot near the Lake

The rest of the way down was easier going with good visibility. With a little bit of navigation and staying to the left we arrive at "Crater Lake". Before long were on the 62 switch back trail making great time. After hiking down for a while we arrive at the trailhead. As compensation for kicking in steps Yem buys me dinner at Marblemount which I was very pleased. And of course I had to get chocolate milk for the way home.

This was a very exciting trip with many experiences on the way. Anyone climbing this mountain I urge you to know that it takes years of mountaineering and is quite an under taking. I want to thank my partner Yem for his research, driving, and good company on this trip. This trip filled my adventure cup for a while, most mountains don't even come close.

Images


Comments


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billisfreeAwesome

billisfree

Hasn't voted

Just awesome, Josh! I saw Jack Mtn from the road last year and wondered how people reached Washington's 14th highest peak. There just weren't any easy roads leading to the base. I spent some time on Goggle Earth looking over your route. And yes, it sucks to sleep in a tent and await nicer weather!
Posted Aug 5, 2012 5:36 am

Josh LewisRe: Awesome

Josh Lewis

Hasn't voted

Thanks Bill. There are no easy ways to the bottom of this mountain. Especially making it to the top. As for the waiting, at least we had music and fun conversations. It would have been a lot worse if I was solo during that part of the trip.
Posted Aug 11, 2012 5:27 pm

billisfreegps

billisfree

Hasn't voted

For heavens sakes, Josh, get a GPS! It's saved my butt more than once!
Posted Aug 5, 2012 7:18 am

Josh LewisRe: gps

Josh Lewis

Hasn't voted

One of these days I'll have to get one. We were never "lost". We just kinda didn't know exactly where we were for a short amount of time. GPS or not we still would have had to bivy due to how tiring it was.
Posted Aug 11, 2012 5:29 pm

EastKingGreat TR..

EastKing

Voted 10/10

and pics!!!! Amazing adventure!
Posted Aug 6, 2012 11:39 am

Josh LewisRe: Great TR..

Josh Lewis

Hasn't voted

Thanks Eastking! We wanted an exciting adventure. We got more than we wanted. But it was definitely an amazing experience.
Posted Aug 17, 2012 6:51 am

RedwicGreat Peak & TR

Redwic

Voted 10/10

It looks like this trip report has been greatly overlooked, thus far, which is really unfortunate. Jack Mountain is considered one of the more difficult and least climbed Top 100 peaks in Washington, due to its long routes, confusing terrain, sketchy slopes, and unpredictable snow conditions and weather.

Good job!
Posted Aug 7, 2012 3:26 pm

Josh LewisRe: Great Peak & TR

Josh Lewis

Hasn't voted

Thanks Redwic. A lot of times my work goes noticed many days after it's posted. But even if only a few people enjoyed the trip report, it was certainly worth writing. This mountain certainly has some surprises, I am thankful to have been here in nearly perfect conditions.
Posted Aug 17, 2012 6:54 am

RedwicDifficulty Level?

Redwic

Voted 10/10

Out of curiosity...
-> What level of difficulty would you rank this climb as?
-> What was the steepest angle of snow you had to climb?
(Some of your photos imply much steepness...)
Posted Aug 7, 2012 3:30 pm

YEMRe: Difficulty Level?

YEM

Voted 10/10

The a lot of the final snowfield was over 50 degrees. The rock was loose class 3 with a short section of class 4. Plenty of exposure.
Posted Aug 11, 2012 4:13 am

Josh LewisRe: Difficulty Level?

Josh Lewis

Hasn't voted

I would rank this peak as "Difficult". Doable, but much harder than Rainier. I had minor cramps on the way down which I had to be careful of how I kicked in the steps. Fortunately we found flowing water which I was able to recover. This hardly slowed us down. Speed is definitely important on this mountain. Slower folks should camp right below the South Face to create as much time as possible on summit day.
Posted Aug 17, 2012 7:01 am

YEMThanks

YEM

Voted 10/10

For another great trip report!
Posted Aug 11, 2012 4:14 am

Josh LewisRe: Thanks

Josh Lewis

Hasn't voted

Sure thing Yem. Thanks for driving, providing music at camp, and being a great partner on the trip.
Posted Aug 17, 2012 7:03 am

MoapaPkvery cool

MoapaPk

Voted 10/10

Great dynamic map. What boots did you wear?
Posted Aug 12, 2012 12:24 pm

Josh LewisRe: very cool

Josh Lewis

Hasn't voted

Thanks MoapaPK! Glad you liked the map. As for the boots, I wore "Asolo AFS Evoluzione" plastic boots.
Posted Aug 17, 2012 7:04 am

Snidely WhiplashHell

Snidely Whiplash

Voted 10/10

of an accomplishment! One of the great Northwest alpine achievements I've seen here on Summit Post ever. Beautiful pictures and well done!
Posted Aug 12, 2012 11:34 pm

Josh LewisRe: Hell

Josh Lewis

Hasn't voted

Thanks etsnyd! Perhaps one of these days I'll see you on the trails in the Cascades. I very much appreciate your comment.
Posted Aug 17, 2012 7:07 am

JoelSkokSimply could not

JoelSkok

Voted 10/10

put it down Josh, especially the harrowing part on the cliffy terrain, your rope not quite reaching to the ledge. Your storytelling is first class.
Posted Aug 16, 2012 5:06 pm

Josh LewisRe: Simply could not

Josh Lewis

Hasn't voted

Thanks Joel. I've seen a lot of dangers in my time. But the good news is that I'm learning new things every trip and some of the lessons learned are paying off in a very positive fashion. But sometimes things come up unexpectedly. So we have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
Posted Aug 17, 2012 7:11 am

Aaron Dyerrock quality

Aaron Dyer

Hasn't voted

your account on the bad rock and scary class 4 brought back too vivid memories of a similar experience on nearby Sentinel Peak. We went up a 3rd class that led to 4th class gulley and it became apparent as the rock transitioned from typical cascade loose to compacted dirt gravel that we were not going down the same way. We had left our packs lower, had no rope, and did not know if there was another way off it. Gotta love the committed feeling! We too were not uncomfortable on that terrain, as you noted. It's because you can't afford to be nervous: that kills you.
Posted Aug 16, 2012 7:42 pm

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