Taking Down Jefferson

The Green Building Mountaineering Club was up to it again: kicking ass!

It was time to hit the big one. Well, not quite Agiocochook (a.k.a. Mt. Washington), but _a_ big one. Mt. Jefferson is 5977 ft high and quite close to the “worst weather in the world” due to its exposure and relatively sharp topography.

So we decided to head up.

It was a gorgeous morning decaying into insane wind-driven ice shard bombardment. But we managed to make our way across the deep powder landscape, scrambling through the strewn chunky field on the west side of Adams to get to Edmunds’ Col for lunch.

The storm was flying over us, as we were on the north, lee, side of Jefferson. It is quite a massif – steep to a more gentle crown. Once we made the transition to the top, the wind picked up like a chord change in an 80’s hit and we had two specific huddles about turning back.

Goggles were losing functionality, both iced over and fogged out. Everything was wet.

But the top was calling to us – a black craggy crown in the distance. In and out of vision, swirling in snow and anticipation. Our legs had been out for 4 hours by now. It was about 8F, windchill somewhere in the -20’s. But no one was ailing really. Only grumpy and skeptical.

So when we got to the last trail crossing, we had final huddle and realized even deliberating for a few moments was foolish. Someone uttered a gutteral howl. A few shoulders were punched. Someone started to run at the top.

Bam, four lads sprinted in heavy snow gear, blasting against a tremendous wind flowing across the peakland, and onto hands and knees as the gravity conflicted with the buffeting. Scramble, scrabble, hook and claw, up the stony blocks to haw!

There we were at the top. “Are you sure this is it” I yelled – “There’s no where else to go, man!” replied the others. I crashed into an 8-inch high miniature ditch, seeking a modicum of protection from the hand of Old Man Winter, swiping at us with his ice blast. I dug out my camera, set it to stun, and started taking shots. The fury of the peak was in full force. I remember getting a few pics, then jumping on the top, screaming back at the Master.

And then we descended before we could be lost in the thrill. A simpler scramble now a wind at our backs.  We regrouped a half-mile down, on the steep ice field as the wind diminished, up against a lost ice-age boulder. It felt good. We were all smiles.

I won’t belabor the return – though that was just as much if not more of an adventure. The trail was lost in the drift, cairns useless. We had a tough time re-snowshoeing, with that full storm now onto that lower west side of Adams, on our way to the hut. It was getting dark. We’d been out for almost 7 hours now. It was tremendously longer than we could remember – making us wonder if we’d taken the wrong line. But we made it back and found Gray Knob and settled in for a good dinner.

It was a great expedition and worthy of the crew.

Here are some pics.


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