Mount Jefferson/Whitewater Glacier

A basic climb to the summit of Oregon's Mount Jefferson via the Whitewater Glacier.

driving directions

Drive I-5 south through Portland (possibly bypassing Portland via I-205) to Salem.  Head east on Oregon SR  22, passing the Detroit ranger station (permits are self-issue at the trailhead). Proceed 10 mi east of Detroit (after milepost 60), and turn left on Whitewater Road (Forest Road 2243)  and take this 7.5 mi. to its end.


Hike the Whitewater Trail 1.5 mi to the intersection with the Jefferson Park Trail.  Hike east 2.5 mi to the intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail, and head 1 mi northeast to Jefferson Park and Scout Lake. From here contour east 0.5 mi north of Point 6616, and pick up the northward outlet stream from the Whitewater Glacier. 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.

ascent Route

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 Rodge. Scramble up loose rock to the summit. Unroping at this point might be a good idea because of rope-induced rockfall.

Descent route

Descend the climbing route.

Trip Profile

Trailhead to Camp 3,200 3-4
Camp to Summit 3,400 8
Summit to Camp 4
Camp to Trailhead 2-3


Standard glacier gear.


  • This is a strenuous, fairly demanding basic climb. A three day trip is more enjoyable than a weekend. Due to the nature of the rock (bad), a very early start from base camp is recommended (2-3am), since rockfall begins at sunrise.  Jefferson is known for rime ice on its summit block.
  • Parties with large tents may find the bivy sites unsuitable at 6,900 ft and 7,100 ft unsuitable.  If so, camp in Jefferson Park and allow extra time.
  • Suitable Activities: Climbing
  • Climbing Category: Basic Alpine
  • Seasons: June, July, August
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Technical 3, Strenuous 3, Basic Glacier Climb
  • Length: 1.0 None
  • Elevation Gain: 3,897 ft
  • 10,497 ft
  • Green Trails Mt Jefferson No. 557
  • USGS Mt Jefferson, OR
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