Ascent of Jumbo Mountain on 2013-06-01

Climber: John Gowan

Others in Party:Scott Webb
Brian Webb
Dave Stephens
John Gowan
Dawn Deriso
Morten Hansen
Catherine Hawkins
James Fugate
Charlie Soncrant
Ron Fleck
Michael Long
Matt Gajda
Leonard Rasquinha
Rich Humbert
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, June 1, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Jumbo Mountain
    Elevation:5840 ft / 1780 m

Ascent Trip Report

Jumbo Mtn has been on my personal radar for a long, long time. And last year’s two failed attempts led to a more concerted effort this year. Here is my sordid history on Jumbo Mtn.
• 1978 - Memorial Day - Coming home from Black Peak I spy this peak and mistake it for Whitehorse. Driving through Darrington I notice it's not Whitehorse and put it down to memory.
• 1985 - Winter - Ken Johnson, Mark Dickinson & I follow Squire Creek to far south, then ascend steep woods and finally snow shoe in open slopes to the 5200- saddle just South of Jumbo. The South Ridge has serious towers and cliffs which turned us around.
• 2009 - August - Scott Webb, Nate Roberts & I - attempted an undocumented route, the "full north ridge". We attained the ridge at about 800 feet. But were stopped by towers and time at 5200 ft on the North Ridge. note: Nate later summited in 2012.
• 2012 - May - Kathy & I attempt to follow the Beckey description but leave Squire Creek to far south and reach the same point I had been to in 1985. I recognized the cliffs !!
• 2012 - June - Kathy & I again attempt to follow the Beckey description but this time leave Squire Creek to soon! We eventually reach the same high point on the North Ridge where Scott, Nate and I were stopped in 2009.
• 2013 - April - I go on a scouting trip spending a Saturday with topos, altimeter and a GPS. I am now convinced I know where to leave Squire Creek and build a large cairn.
• 2013 - May - Rich Humbert, Kathy and I head up from the cairn on Squire Creek and are fairly certain we are on route. It is quite hot and the snow is soft. Alas, we make a single wrong turn at about 3000 feet and soon find ourselves on the North Ridge which unfortunately, we were quite familiar with. On the descent on Sunday we find where we went wrong and soon discover the "X" on the uphill side of the large tree as described in Beckey’s guide book. It had a good boot path which we believe leads to the high open slopes at 4000. It was another hot day and the snow was sluffing big time. We were concerned so we descend to the cars.

Now for the adventure. The old Elvis song “Return to Sender, Address Unknown” had been running through my head, but the words were transformed to “Return to Jumbo, The Route is Known...” Feeling confident we put out the word to many folks and nearly all showed up, plus a few more. It was quite a crew with many old Boealps instructors among the party. None seem to be deterred by the 5000 ft elevation gain without any trail nor by Kathy & my’s reputation. Our first casualty was John Alley who woke up feeling bad and stayed in bed. We all meet up at the old Whitehorse Store at 7:30am where the size of the party really sunk in. Oh well. I realized that I would have to run this climb just like a huge class climb in the 1980s. Off to the Squire Creek Trailhead where last minute decisions were made. Crampons Yes and one light rope. Soon we were off with Rich Humbert taking the rear. In 20 minutes we were up to the new large cairn I had built which was 1/4 mile before the 2nd large washout. This washout has two large exposed metal culverts. It is also the drainage followed all the way to the summit. Taking count we headed up the hill with Kathy Baillie in front and me in the rear. Just like to good ole days of running a team! There isn’t a trail, but it’s big timber so any brush was light. After about 30 minutes we came to an exceptionally large pair of trees. This is where one must traverse left (north) a few hundred yards to attain the ridge, else one will beat brush next to the creek. It is also where the slope steepens and remnants of an old trail were followed. It was here while crossing very large log which had foot steps cut into it, that Rich had a small slip and cleanly snapped one of his trekking poles. Being strong he elected to carry the broken pole the additional 4,500 feet to the summit. We were making excellent time. It was 10am when we took a break after descending from the timbered ridge and into the drainage at about 2700 ft. Counting heads and then heading up the major drainage and it’s prominent left fork to about 3000 ft. We then forced passage out the right side of this gully where Kathy had her water bladder from under the lid of her pack ripped out and lost. Dave, Matt and Michael couldn’t find it. Kathy soon found the boot path and the “X” on the uphill side of the large tree. Several pictures were taken at the X. This was our previous high point on the correct route. I was ecstatic. Rich Humbert had even guaranteed a brush free ascent. He had studied Google Maps and felt certain he could see a path all the way to the summit from here! Melinda Fugate promised her husband James that it would be a “walk in the park!”.


Shortly after the “X” we were in the worst slide alder morass I’d been through in years. Fortunately we had a big crew. Fourteen made it out the far side at 4100 ft after two hours of bad brush. One group of four elected to go home early, while two others who made it all the way through the brush also turned back. I believe we were on the correct “trail” and there were several clean cut logs and a few cairns in the midst of this brush. Somewhere in the brush, Scott Webb had the right shoulder strap ripped from his pack. He repaired it with a bailing wire he happened to be carrying! The

It was 1:15 pm and we were still a long way from the summit. Now twelve push on towards the summit through open snow fields. It’s a huge relief to be in open country. And I will spend the night out rather than turn back at this point. I don’t mention this to anyone. Kathy, John, Matt, Michael, Dave and Morten lead out. Charlie, Scott, Brian, Bernie & I bring up the rear with Shella Knoll, who is just 5 months from her last chemotherapy treatment! Kathy was clearly motivated on her fourth attempt and reaches the summit at 2:15 pm, one hour from our break and 1700 feet of elevation gain. Ten climbers summit by 3pm. Kathy, Dave, John, Matt, Michael, Morten, Charlie, Bernie, Shella and myself all reach the summit in sunshine. Two weekend warriors had major leg cramps a mere 1000 ft of open slopes from the summit! And with good steps all the way. Glissades brought us down the 1700 feet in 15 minutes where we unthawed our backsides before the descent into the brush. Soon we were enjoying green belays and devils club, aka natures Velcro. I had a gaiter torn off in the brush. It went quicker going down hill and we were out by 5pm and back at the “X”. Everyone was slowing down and a big rest was taken at the bottom of the large gully. The only difficult section left was the 100 foot gain out the north side of the gully back to the timbered ridge. Our first members reached the cars at 7:45pm. Whooped, tired, beat and scarred but smiling. It was an adventure none of us will forget. And now Leonard Rasquinha is planning another “Return to Jumbo” for next April or May 2014.

The first group of four that turned back at about 1pm in brush made it back to the cars around 6pm. The next pair made it out about 7pm. It’s a tough route to follow, in particular through the brush.

Matt Gajda wrote: Great report, seems to cover the whole trip. One point I noted is that the 4 that turned around did so right after going through the maple bushwacking, not before and so they basically got to have double the fun in a short amount of time. Could also mention how Kathy and Dave's pace wore out Mike and I once we hid the snow, but I'd also be fine leaving that unsaid. :)

Here's the timeline I recorded. This might fill in some of the time/altitude gaps.
7:55 TH 1180
9:20 just above creek (15) 2480
9:40 creek 2400
10:05 tree with "X" 2970
11:20 near main gulley after schwack (lose 4 ppl) 3450
1:15 break (15) (lose 2 ppl) 4760
1:40 basin (lose 2 ppl) 5800
2:20 saddle 5870
2:30 summit (40) 4100
3:30 group up (25) 4210
4:40 cross creek 3580
5:40 tree with "X" 3020
6:00 break (25) 2590
7:45 TH 1300

Thanks again for the great trip, I've now gotten most of the slivers out of my body (around 50).

Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble

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