Jack Mountain via Jerry Lakes / 經傑利湖羣上傑克山

Jack Mountain in the mist
Jack Mountain in the mist

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This impressive massif is located just off the North Cascades Highway (SR 20) on the southeast end of Ross Lake. Because of its size, one can see the mountain from any high points within the North Cascades. In the past, I’d yell out, “I’m gonna get to you soon, Jack!” every time I drove past the mountain.

The Lowdown on Jack Mountain

Access: Canyon Creek Trailhead
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 1880′-8243′
Gear: helmet, ice ax, crampons
GPS Track: available

Logistics Overview

September 4-6, 2015

OverviewDay 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Day 1 – Friday, September 4
Canyon Creek Trail to Crater Mountain north basin
Night 1 – Crater Mountain moraine lake

Day 2 – Saturday, September 5
Jack Mountain
Night 2 – Jerry Lakes Peak south saddle

Day 3 – Sunday, September 6
Exit


Day 1

Canyon Creek Trail to Crater Mountain north basin

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Jack Mountain ooming high into the sky
Jack Mountain looming high into the sky

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The idea was to climb Jack Mountain the weekend following Ptarmigan Peak. Unfortunately, due to the lightning-induced Goodell Fire by Newhalem, I had to postpone my plan. The forest fire resulted in a three-week-long shutdown of SR 20 between Newhalem and Rainy Pass.

Three of my eight remaining Bulger List peaks, including Mount Logan and Goode Mountain, were also off limits. The closure was due to the lightning-induced Goode Fire. And the fire, as a result, had entirely cut off the alternative access through Stehekin to climbing the mountains.

See more trip photos here.

En Route to the Old Lookout

This approach turned out to be more straightforward in practice than seeing it on maps. Though, the weather on Friday afternoon looked highly questionable. And by the late afternoon, the clouds had shrouded the area entirely. Just before getting up to Lookout No. 2, the weather seemed to be turning for the worse. So I decided to spend the night on the ridge.

But by sunset, the clouds suddenly broke away, and the looming view of Jack Mountain slowly appeared. I began to make out the moraine lake in Crater Mountain’s north basin. So without hesitation, I quickly packed up and hurried down the scree slopes below the lookout. Then I made it to the 6400′ moraine lake shortly after dark.

Star trails over Jack Mountain
Star trails over Jack Mountain

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Crater Mountain North Basin

At night, the moon and stars were out in full display. But for some reason, the clouds capping the last thousand feet of Jack never budged. I stayed up past midnight, looking at maps and taking night photos before finally turning in.

The next morning, I awoke to nearly bluebird weather. But the clouds on Jack Mountain seemed as though they never left. At this point, the immediate plan was to get through the Jerry Lakes Basin. Then before getting to the southeast shoulder at 7000′, I need to get over the Crater Creek Basin.

Day 2

Jack Mountain

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Jerry Lakes Basin
Jerry Lakes Basin

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En route to Jerry Lakes

Jerry Glacier was virtually nonexistent as I traversed through massive talus and scree. Then from the 6600′ notch south of Jerry Lakes, I decided to skip the lakes by staying high. This move, in turn, would take me directly to the south saddle of Jerry Lakes Peak.

From the saddle, I dropped into the head of Crater Creek Basin. Then I worked my way through mostly moderate terrain up to the 7000′ shoulder on the mountain’s southeast ridge. All of a sudden, the weather took a turn for the worse, and I never saw the sun again.

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Climbing Jack Mountain

Visibility wasn’t bad on the traverse to the mountain’s south face. But when I reached 8000′, the weather socked in, and I was climbing in a foot of fresh snow. I followed a faint path and passed two belay stations with webbing mentioned in a couple of reports. Glad I was still on the right track despite being in clouds.

The low visibility caused me to get up to the west ridge too fast too soon. So I ended up making several unnecessary class 4 moves through the light snow-covered ridgeline. From there, I began to traverse east toward the summit block.

Jack Mountain summit block
Jack Mountain summit block

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Viewless Jack Mountain Summit

One thing I wanted to see on this climb was the Nohokomeen Glacier on the north side of the mountain. I got a glimpse and quickly took a photo before clouds once again obscured the little view I had. Too bad there wasn’t much to see on the summit other than the steep drops on all sides. By then, my visibility was only about 20 feet.

I didn’t stay long since I still had a long way to go before getting back to camp. Getting down the mountain in this weather was even slower. By the time I got back down to 8000,’ the daylight was beginning to dwindle. But I wanted to get back to the 7000′ shoulder at least before the darkness fell.

Nohokomeen Glacier
Nohokomeen Glacier

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Change of Plans

It got completely dark by the time I got back to Crater Creek Basin at 6400′. So I decided to stay the night on Jerry Lakes Peak’s south saddle with my emergency blanket. Then I would head back to camp first thing next morning.

In my own experience, the SOL Emergency Bivy hasn’t done a great job in wind protection or heat preservation. Although the blanket reflected my body heat, the heat would end up turning into cold condensation inside. As a result, the two times I’ve used it, I shivered through the night.

Pasayten morning sky
Pasayten morning sky

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Day 3

Exit

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

En Route Back to Camp and out

Next morning, the eastern sky was full of dark clouds with vibrant colors. But behind me to the west, the clouds were shrouding the Crater Creek Basin. From the saddle, I dropped down to Jerry Lakes to get a closer view before heading back to camp. 

After a night of restless sleep, I was very excited to take a long nap back at camp. As luck would have it, I got inside the tent just before it began to rain for the next hour. Perfect timing to get in some rest before heading out. I made many stops along the way for photos, so It took a while to get out of the basin.

Pra declarar minha saudade
Pra declarar minha saudade

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In contrast, weather down by Highway 20 was much better than what I saw up in the mountains. As I made the long drive out west, I periodically checked out Jack Mountain through the rearview mirror. I was hoping at some point Jack Mountain would poke its head out above clouds–but it never did.

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

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