The Mazamas offers a variety of classes for all ability levels. Learn new skills in mountaineering, rock climbing, first aid, ski mountaineering, and more.
Drive I-5 south through Portland to Salem. Head east on Oregon SR 22, passing the Detroit ranger station (permits are self-issue at the trailhead). At the intersection of National Forest Service Road (NF) 46 and Highway 22, turn East (left) and proceed onto NF 46, then turn right on NF 4685. Reach the TH on gravel road. NW Forest Pass REQUIRED.
7/20 (Saturday) : Meet at TH at 9 am and packs ready to go by 9.30 am. Approach is the South Breitenbrush Gorge TH. Lots of elevation gain as you progress from lush forest to a subalpine environment. Plenty of views along the way.
Option A : Our base camp (6,000 ft) in Jefferson Park is in a grove of trees below a drainage from the Whitewater Glacier. We will try to arrive at the lake around early afternoon. We will then make base camp and settle in and eating, we will have a pre-climb meeting and then rest.
Option B: Alternatively, we can head up the boulder field towards a notch in the ridge and climb up the ridge to good bivy spots either around 7,100 ft in late season or 6,900 ft in early season. This might save us approximately an hour in the early morning ascent.
Option C : Proceed to “The Beach” at an elevation of over 8200 ft.
7/21 (Sunday) - SUMMIT DAY
Wake up will be around midnight and we will be on the trail by 1:00am. This is a challenging climb which has a bit of everything-scree scrambling, a traverse of the biggest glacier in Oregon (and the biggest crevasses!). Glacier travel through crevasses, traverse with exposure, and a rock climb finish. It is a 10 mile round trip from Jeff Park. We circle around the mountain on the Whitewater Glacier in the SE direction.
We'll follow an obscure (especially in the dark) climbers' trail up the right side of a stream and climb up though the Whitewater Glacier moraines onto the glacier proper. We will rope up and make a rising traverse generally southward, and then southeast to the southern shoulder (around 9,100 ft) below the summit pinnacle (Red Saddle).
Descend 150 feet, traverse the basin below and climb back up to the northwest shoulder to the North Ridge. Scramble up loose rock to the summit. Unroping at this point might be a good idea because of rope-induced rockfall.
We’ll place wands as needed to assist in our return. We'll stay high and circle around to the SE ridge. We'll go onto the ridge and head up scree and rock to the Red Saddle at the south end of the summit pinnacle.
Here is where it starts getting interesting! The traverse around the base of the Pinnacle on the west / northwest side of the mountain is very exposed. We will put in a horizontal fixed line or just sink pickets and do a running belay.
Depending on conditions, the route may need to be protected all the way from the Red Saddle to the summit of the pinnacle.
I will try to get information about conditions, but if I don't know or it sounds dicey, we will take enough ropes and pickets to set the whole traverse. This could be a maximum of 4 ropes and about 12 pickets. While a pain to carry, this will significantly reduce the time spent on the pinnacle as we will not have to be setting, taking down, and resetting the lines. I will lead the 4th class rock route on the summit pinnacle and set a fixed line if we decide we want it. The party will follow, climbing with a prussik attached to the fixed line. We will either down climb or rap off depending on the situation. We will then retrace our route and stumble back to camp. This is a major grunt: it’s long, requires more gear than usual, and we’ll be out 14 -20 hours. It will be especially tedious for anyone not well conditioned. We will move at a comfortable steady pace - mine- and not go for speed records. So please be in good enough condition to enjoy the climb. If you are at all marginal in fitness or technical skills, you might want to try this another time. The total ascent is approx. 6,300 feet.
Descend the climbing route. Overnight at high camp or at 6'000 ft
7/22 (Monday) : Pack-up and leave for TH, then back to Detroit for a celebratory lunch or a drive back to Portland.