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Ascent of Mount Jefferson on 2013-09-01

Climber: Edward Earl

Date:Sunday, September 1, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Jefferson
    Location:USA-Idaho/Montana
    Elevation:10203 ft / 3109 m

Ascent Trip Report

The way you know you're in the vicinity of Mt Jefferson is not when you can see Jefferson itself, but when you can see nearby Sawtell Pk, whose mostly flat summit sports a huge FAA radome that is easily visible for many miles in all directions. Together, Sawtell Pk and its radome are an unistakable landmark. Sawtell Pk gets a lot of attention: its summit is accessible by a well-graded gravel road which, although suitable for any street-legal vehicle, constantly buzzes with two-stroke off-road traffic. Jefferson, though 337 feet higher, is obscure and neglected by comparison; the nearest road (which happens to be the Sawtell Pk road), is 3 miles away.

Access to Mt Jefferson is from US-20 in NE ID at a point where it is nominally east-west, but actually runs north-south.

Near mile post 394, at a Chevron on the E side and a Subway on the W side (33 miles N of Ashton or 9 miles S of the junction with ID-87), I headed W on Sawtell Pk Road. Call this point mile 0.0. At 1.2 miles I passed between two stone pillars with the name "Stonegate", apparently a residential development. At 1.9 miles the pavement ended just after a broad 4-way junction. 100 yards later I passed through an open gate. At 6.1 miles I stayed straight where a side road went R. At 9.6 miles and just over 9000 feet elevation I parked at a sharp R switchback in the road. A trail sign identifies the Sawtell Pk Trail and indicates 5 miles to Marie Lake.

I hiked up the Sawtell Pk Trail, which has occasional dips and rises between 8960' and 9300'. For the first 2 miles, the trail stayed on the S side of the ridge between Sawtell Pk and Mt Jefferson, but then it reached a saddle and began descending a gully on the N side. At this point I left the trail and headed cross-country up the ridge toward Jefferson. The terrain is mostly open, with just a few scattered pines and krumholtz thickets. I contoured around the S side of the 9800+ subpeak about 0.6 mile E of Jefferson and descended ~100' to the saddle before the final rise to the summit.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:2003 ft / 608 m
    Extra Gain:400 ft / 121 m
    Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Trailhead:Sawteel Pk Rd  9000 ft / 2743 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:2 Hours 10 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:1 Hours 50 Minutes



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