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Three Fingered Jack Backcountry Ski: South Ridge

Mount Jefferson Wilderness

Mt. Jefferson + Metolius River Area, Oregon

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Three Fingered Jack Backcountry Ski: South Ridge

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  • Early light on Mount Washington to the south.- Three Fingered Jack Backcountry Ski: South Ridge
  • Hoodoo Ski Area and Hayrick Butte waking up.- Three Fingered Jack Backcountry Ski: South Ridge
  • The Three Fingered Jack objective though the burned out forest.- Three Fingered Jack Backcountry Ski: South Ridge
  • Much of the approach is through the burn scar. - Three Fingered Jack Backcountry Ski: South Ridge
  • Mostly boot packing from here. Three Fingered Jack peeks out from behind the ridge.- Three Fingered Jack Backcountry Ski: South Ridge
  • Picking the way through the rocks and brush.- Three Fingered Jack Backcountry Ski: South Ridge
  • The first really good view from Three Fingered Jack with the southwest bowl below.- Three Fingered Jack Backcountry Ski: South Ridge
  • Traversing along the ridge. Black Butte to the right. - Three Fingered Jack Backcountry Ski: South Ridge
  • A prominent knob along the southern ridge, the turnaround point for this adventure.- Three Fingered Jack Backcountry Ski: South Ridge
  • Three Fingered Jack ready for her close up.- Three Fingered Jack Backcountry Ski: South Ridge
  • The direction of the ski descent directly south off of the ridge.- Three Fingered Jack Backcountry Ski: South Ridge
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Multiple bowls to ski. Great views below Three Fingered Jack.
Cons: 
Long flat approach. Low elevation.
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Region:
Mt. Jefferson + Metolius River Area, OR
Max slope angle: 
15-30 degrees
Parking Pass: 
Sno-Park Parking Permit (required in OR + WA 11.01 thru 04.30)
Total Distance: 
8.00 mi (12.87 km)
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,760.00 ft (1,450.85 m)
Vertical descent: 
1,000.00 ft (304.80 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

Three Fingered Jack is another Cascade volcano that offers some great, lesser-traveled back country skiing options for those willing to slog through the long and flat approach. Heading north from the Santiam Pass Sno-Park, the approach follows a route that is similar to the Pacific Crest Trail as you skin through burn scarred forest, the remains of the August 2003 Booth Fire. The fire-ravaged forest adds a unique element to the approach (and can afford some fun turns on the way out), but beware that it offers no protection when the sun is out. 

The skin route is ultimately up to the individual. For this adventure, gain the ridge extending to the south of Three Fingered Jack. Traveling along the ridge can be punishing. Westward winds scour the snow and produce a never-ending array of rolling mounds. Alternate approaches may involve staying off the ridge to either side, but make note of cornice dangers to the east. 

Above 6,500 feet, skinning will become increasingly difficult, and hiking becomes the better option. Continuing along the ridge, there is a minor summit at nearly 7,000 feet elevation. From this point, the ski descent is to the south. Alternative descents are available into the bowls to the west and east, but those would make for longer days. While alternate return routes exist, this route uses the west side of the ridge. Snow conditions were sticky enough that we had to skin the entire route out through side hill terrain.

Backcountry Safety

Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.

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(61 within a 30 mile radius)

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