Logo Jim Frankenfield
jim@mountain-guiding.com; 1-877-604-0166

Mountain Guiding; Mountain Safety
An Experienced Professional

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Mt Jefferson, Oregon
July through October

Mount Jefferson generally offers good climbing well into or through October, until the first major snows leave a blanket on the high glaciers. The best route varies with the season. Russell Glacier and Jefferson Park Glacier are both highly recommended.

Russell Glacier

The Russell Glacier route is good through summer, until the past seasons snow is gone and it becomes a jumble of rock piles sitting on glacial ice. The moraine can also be climbed regardless of the glacier condition. This is a very direct route, beginning within a few minutes of the junction where the Whitewater trail meets the Pacific Crest Trail. It is a good descent route throughout climbing season for this reason, whether the snow covered glacier or the moraine is used.

The ascent begins with the approach to the glacier. Near the trail junction there is a stream crossing, then it's a scramble up to the tip of the glacier. The glacier itself is not particularly steep and has very little crevasse danger in the center. A short somewhat steeper section at the top leads to a ridge. A faint climbers path can be followed up this ridge to the top of the Jefferson Park Glacier. After that is the famous "knife edged ridge" which involves exposed scrambling over large blocks of rock.

Above the knife-edged ridge a short jaunt that includes some scrambling and a lot of exposure leads to the summit pinnacle.

Two days is quite reasonable for this route, three allows a more comfortable and relaxed schedule.

Photos from the Oregon Mountaineering Association [Both links open in New Windows]

Jefferson Park Glacier

This route climbs the Jefferson Park Glacier to the same ridge as the route above, meeting it just below the "knife-edged ridge". This is probably one of the finest mountaineering routes in the Oregon Cascades. This is an excellent challange for somebody with some prior experience, it is not a suitable route for beginners.

This glacier is a more technical climb than the Russell. There is a small icefall on the right edge, and there are two large bergshrunds to find a way around. The first bergshrund is usually passed on its left end late in the season, the second is either crossed on a snow bridge early in the season or passed on its right end later in the season. It is also sometimes possible to climb the right side the entire way, with some caution to stay away from the small but active icefall along the way.

In the spring and early summer this route is a moderate snow climb. However, as it begins to warm going into summer the area left of the first bergshrund becomes very exposed to rockfall which becomes more active. For this reason the route is not a good choice in mid-summer.

In late summer and fall the average daily temperature drops, the days become shorter, and the solar angle is lower. By this time of the year the previous seasons snow is generally gone and the climbing is on the glaciers ice. Whether the first bergshrund is rounded on the left or the entire climb stays to the right there is some objective danger on this route. It can be minimized to a very short section which goes very quickly, but it is never eliminated.

Two days is realistic, as with the Russell glacier. Likewise, three allows a more comfortable schedule. This is sometimes done in one day in the autumn, often as a climb of the glacier and descent via the Russell Glacier moraine without completing the knife-edge ridge or summit pinnacle.

Photos - A few from my climbing page archives (scroll down to Sept) [New Window]

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