Three Fingered Jack - July 19, 2009

On July 19, 2009 I'll be leading a climb of via Three Fingered Jack via the South Ridge Route (7,841'). This is a good begininer climb rated at 5.1 with significant exposure. Three Finger Jack is about five miles north of Santiam Pass. This climb will be limited to a party of eight. In an effort to provide equal opportunity for Chemeketan climb school graduates I am reserving spots for new climb school graduates.

1. Mike Niemeyer, leader
2. Vince Dunn, Leader Assist
3. _________Assistant
4. Reserved - New Climber
5. Reserved - New Climber
6. Reserved - New Climber
7. Reserved - New Climber
8. Reserved - New Climber

Local weather

Driving Directions
From Salem, OR, drive east 52 miles on Hwy 22 to Detroit. The Mountain High Grocery in Detroit is often used for purchasing snacks and regrouping. Drive to Santiam Pass. Just past the Santiam Snow Park you will find the Pacific Crest Trailhead Parking Lot on the north side of the highway. NW Forest Pass required for parking at Trailhead.

Schedule (Preliminary - subject to change)
Optional - Saturday. 7/18, 5:00 PM - Meet at the State Motor Pool Park & Ride on Airport Rd. (N. of Mission St.) and car pool to Santiam Pass set up camp.

Sunday, 7/19,
5:30 AM - Begin hiking north on Pacific Crest Trail (4,800’).
7:30 AM - Arrive at cairn marking climber's trail.
8:00 AM - Arrive at saddle on south ridge.
9:00 AM - Arrive at the crawl and set first fixed line.
10:00 AM- Set second fixed line past the crawl.
10:30 AM - Set third fixed line on first pitch of pinnacle.
11:00 AM - Set fourth fixed line on second pitch of pinnacle.
11:30 AM - First climber summits (10 min per climber).
2:30 PM - Clean the crawl.
3:00 PM - Begin descent.
4:00 PM - Arrive at Pacific Crest Trail.
6:00 PM - Arrive at trail head parking lot.
8:30 PM - Arrive at State Motor Pool Park & Ride on Airport Rd.

Required Climbing Equipment: See List #6

Route description:
Summit Post 3-fingered jack South ridge route description
From Steve Dougherty's website:
Follow the PCT north for approximately five miles or two hours. Not long after the west side of Three Finger Jack becomes visible, but before the PCT leaves the trees, a climbers' trail, marked with a rock cairn, cuts right uphill into the woods. The trail steepens and emerges onto a treeless hillside, marked by a conspicuous scar. The scar is the result of climbers trying to get down from Three Finger Jack quickly. Do not follow the scar or several trails above it which diagonal up and left toward the summit. It is quicker and less tiring to continue straight up along the forest edge toward a low point in the South Ridge. (During the descent it is quicker to plunge-step down the scree on the treeless hillside).

Hike up the south ridge, passing several gendarmes on the left. Near the summit, a large gendarme which appears to block further progress can be passed on the right via a sloping ledge (5.1). The ledge is overhung by the gendarme wall on the west and drops 800 feet on the east, so people get down on all fours to try and get by. Because of this, the ledge is called The Crawl. The hardest part of the climb comes at the end of the ledge, where you must get up off your knees and use your feet. Fortunately, the rock is some of the best found anywhere on the mountain.
After the gendarme, continue up past an eight-foot vertical wall to the base of the summit pinnacle.

Climb an obvious chimney or groove, using whatever appears most solid. If you need protection, bring nuts or camming devices in the one inch range for a crack on the right side of the chimney. Finish up horrid rock to the summit, a somewhat terrifying mixture of cinders and cobbles which probably does vibrate in the wind as the original ascent party claimed. The view is spectacular.

To descend, downclimb or rappel the route. Sometimes there are no fixed rappel points, so come prepared with extra sling if downclimbing is not your forte.

Steve's Notes: Protecting the Crawl: Tie a bowline around the rock knob in the staging area to protect the first gap. Sling a rock in the boulder group so that the rope runs through the channel and minimizes rope drag. Clip a sling to the old piton at the start of the crawl. Use a one inch camming device in the space behind the rock flake which is head high. There is a horizontal space in some rocks marked with orange lichen that my orange SLCD just fits in. One may optionally clip into a second piton which is positioned where I like to place a foot. Girth hitch a ten inch tall rock pillar near its base with a double length sling. Once past the crawl go off belay and pull all extra rope so that it can be tied around a large rock past the crawl.Protecting the Eight Foot Step: The eight-foot step is not at the end of the "trail".

Most climbers are lured beyond the actual step because the path has been very heavily traveled. There is no need to protect this step when climbing up. The leader will point out the "hidden" foothold to climbers before they ascend. This tiny pitch is rapeled with a single 50' rope on descent. Climbers will demonstrate a clove hitch and a Munter hitch to the leader before descending the single line with a Munter hitch. The rope is secured to a rock horn with a bowline which the leader will untie before down climbing the pitch.Protecting the First Pitch: The only protection required here is to girth hitch a single rock horn about 10 feet off the deck. The assistant ties a clove hitch on a rock horn at the base of the pinacle. Pull all extra rope up and clip a figure-eight knot to the rapel anchor slings. The assistant climbs the fixed line while the leader flakes the rope neatly over a rock above the rapel anchor. A long sling is girth hitched around a chock stone above the "window". Knot the rope waist high to serve as the start of the upper pitch and place a locking carabiner here.

Protecting the Second Pitch: The assistant can clip into the end of this long sling for an anchor.
Once the assistant is in position, the leader begins the second pitch while the first group of climbers ascend the first pitch. Place a sling as you turn the corner to keep the rope at waist high and to minimize rope drag around the corner. Climb the chimney and run the rope between the two boulders. Tie a clove hitch to a rock horn on the south side of the start of the cock's comb and drape the sling onto the north side. At the far end clove hitch a couple tiny horns with a cordelette for an anchor then go off belay. Haul the rope up. The assistant will place a clove hitch in the locking carabiner at locking carabiner above the belay position leaving some slack in the rope to give waiting climbers some room to manuver.

Back on top the leader uses three large loops of rope to gain purchase on the knobby summit surface in opposition to each other for a multi-directional anchor. The leader protects himself with two slings and two non-locking carabiners so that he can clip past the prusick knot of the climbers as necessary. Climbers sit close together for their summit picture.

Descending the Pinacle: Climbers down climb the second pitch in reverse order. The clove hitch at the bottom of the first pitch is untied so that they can rapel this pitch with a rapel device. Once the entire first group is on the ground, the rope is secured to the rock knob and the second group ascends the fixed line.

Mazamas 3FJ Topo

Additional information:
OMA Article regarding a 3FJ Climb
3FJ Climbing accident report