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

The impressive Jack Mountain is located just off the North Cascades Highway. It is also at the southeast end of Ross Lake. Because of its size, the mountain is visible from almost any high point in the North Cascades. In the past, I’d call out, “I’m gonna get to you soon, Jack!” every time I drove past it.

Jack Mountain in the mist
Jack Mountain in the mist

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Jack Mountain at a Glance

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 goal was to climb Jack Mountain the weekend after going up to Ptarmigan Peak. Unfortunately, because of the lightning-induced Goodell Fire by Newhalem, I had to postpone my plan. The forest fire caused a three-week-long shutdown of Highway 20 between Newhalem and Rainy Pass.

Three of my eight remaining Bulger List peaks included Mount Logan and Goode Mountain. But they were also off-limits. The closure was because of another lightning-induced Goode Fire. In turn, the fire had entirely cut off the alternative access through Stehekin to climbing the mountains.

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Getting to the Old Lookout

This way turned out to be more straightforward in person 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. But right 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. Then the ghostly view of Jack Mountain slowly appeared. I began to see the moraine lake in Crater Mountain’s north basin. So without hesitation, I packed up my gear 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 a full display. But somehow, the stubborn clouds capping the last thousand feet of Jack never wanted to budge. I stayed up past midnight, looking at maps and taking star photos before finally going to sleep.

The next morning, I awoke to nearly bluebird weather. But the clouds on Jack Mountain looked as though they never left. So at this point, the plan was to get through the Jerry Lakes Basin first. Then I would need to go through Crater Creek Basin to get up on the southeast shoulder at 7000′.

Day 2

Jack Mountain

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Jerry Lakes Basin
Jerry Lakes Basin

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Jack Mountain via Jerry Lakes

Jerry Glacier was practically nonexistent as I crossed massive talus and scree. Then from the 6600′ notch south of Jerry Lakes, I decided to skip the lakes by staying high. It would then put me directly on the south saddle of Jerry Lakes Peak.

From the saddle, I dropped into the head of the Crater Creek Basin. Then I worked my way through moderate terrain up to the 7000′ shoulder. I was now on the southeast ridge. Then all of a sudden, the weather turned for the worse. And I never saw the sun again.

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Jack Mountain Climb

Visibility wasn’t terrible on the way up to the south face. But I was climbing in a foot of fresh snow in a whiteout when I reached 8000′. Then I followed a faint trail and passed two belay stations with webbing. A couple of reports had mentioned the two spots. Glad I was still on track despite being in clouds.

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

Jack Mountain summit block
Jack Mountain summit block

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Jack Mountain Summit Without Views

The one thing I had wanted to see on this trip was the Nohokomeen Glacier. It’s on the north side of the mountain. But I ended up getting only a glimpse. So I quickly photographed it before clouds obscured the view again. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything to see on the summit. The steep drop-off on all sides felt airy. By then, the visibility was only about an arm’s reach.

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

Nohokomeen Glacier
Nohokomeen Glacier

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A Change of Plans

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

In my experience, the SOL Emergency Bivy hasn’t done a great job in wind protection. Or heat preservation for that matter. Even though the blanket reflected my body heat, the warmth would turn into moisture. So I shivered through the night the only two times I’ve used it.

Pasayten morning sky
Pasayten morning sky

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Day 3

Exit

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Getting Back to Camp Plus Exit

I woke up early the next morning. The eastern sky was full of dark clouds and vibrant colors. But behind me to the west, the clouds had shrouded ing the Crater Creek Basin. Then from the saddle, I hiked down to Jerry Lakes. So I could get a closer look before going back to camp. 

After a night of restless sleep, I was very eager to take a long nap back at camp. As luck would have it, the minute I went inside the tent, it rained. It went on for the next hour. Great timing to get in some rest before leaving. Along the way, I made several stops for photos. So It took a while for me to go out of the basin.

Pra declarar minha saudade
Pra declarar minha saudade

See more trip photos here.

In contrast, the weather down by Highway 20 was a lot better than up in the mountains. As I made the long drive out west, I checked out Jack Mountain through the rearview mirror. I was hoping at some point Jack Mountain would poke its head above the clouds. But it never happened.

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

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