Day One / A walk in the park.
I have finally arrived at the White Water Traihead and an elusive Oregon Cascade peak. I have dreamed about climbing this mountain since I was 15 years old, I am now 42. I have been to the Summit of every major Oregon cascade peak, some more than once, excepting Mt Jefferson and The black beast North sister. I have had a shot at North sister and could not finish.
I am a member of one of the strongest group of climbers assembled for an Obsidian club trip this year. There is eight of us on a three day climbing adventure. Five of us have never been on the mountain two of us have been turned back at the Terrible Traverse and John are co-leader is attempting his eighth summit of this classic mountain.
We do a quick pack shake down ( gettig rid of redundant camp gear) I will bring a stove and a water purifier if Rich carries the tent. Because Rich has the tent I throw a climb rope on top of my pack, and Rich carries a couple of pickets. Others pair up and do the pack shake down and even distribution of group climbing gear and were ready to roll.
The first couple of miles are a uphill hump along a rocky trail with some long sweeping switchbacks. We gain the ridge and are rewarded with are first views of the mountain with its steep plunging ridges and glacial snows standing out against black rock. I am really enjoying the walk in along this section of trail, It is one of the most scenic approaches that I have experienced. The trail affords consistent views, geographic relief and plenty of wildflowers along the way.
We reach a crossing of Whitewater creek, ford the stream, refill are water bottles and soak our hats and shirts to cool off. We are carrying heavy packs, It's hard to avoid with all the climbing gear. We hoist are heavy packs back on to our shoulders and proceed in to Jefferson Park. It is my first visit here and pleasantly suprized by the beauty of this area. I don't live that far away and am still in disbelief that I am now just visiting.
We don't spend long in the park because the mosquitos are pretty hungry. We have just covered five miles and roughly 2,200 ft in elevation and Wayne (trip leader) informs us of the direction we must go from here. We are going to head due south cross country towards the foot of the Jeff Park glacier, then hang a left and head east to a camp in the boulders near the White water glacier. We will gain about 2,400 ft in a mile and a half (literally climbing the mountain with full packs).
As we proceed upward out of the park, the mosquitos prodding us along, we are able to follow a faint boot track. We are single file through a steep narrow passage up through the remaining forest, slow but steady as we make our way beyond the trees and in to the realm of snow and rock. With the mosquitos behind us, we can take a break and hydrate up. It's time to pull the axes out as the going is getting a bit steeper and thankfully on snow.
It becomes a little more obvious for awhile our direction of travel, up the snow fields until we hit the moraine above the Jeff park glacier. I have been itchen to move faster for awhile so I bust out of the pack and kick steps up the snowfield. It doesn't matter in the end how fast I want to move in a large group, were only as fast as our slowest person (hurry up and wait).