Trip Report    

Intermediate Alpine Climb - Jack Mountain/Nohokomeen Headwall

3 day climb of Jack Mountain / Nohokomeen Headwall

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Continuous snow started on our way up to the ridge at around 4700 ft. The entire headwall was  an icy crust with about 5 inches of fresh snow on top. The bergschrund is passable and will probably still be in for about two more weeks. Signs of various slides from the day before we went for the summit push were visible. Timing our summit push and returning to the base of the headwall before sun will fully hit it (Noon) were a must.  Glacier travel  (to get to the base of the Headwall) was straight forward.

Big Thank you to Leigh Ann Wolfe's party we met on the ridge on our way in to the 5700 ft camp. Your beta based on what you experienced on your attempt was helpful. 

YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/JI_X83LhsmY

We have been planning Jack Mountain Nohokomeen Headwall climb and booked the dates for it since last year.  We knew that stars must be aligned to make it happen and after learning about a party being able to summit it last weekend, our hopes for it increased and then they were crashed by not so promising weather forecasts. We almost canceled it earlier in the week but after taking a closer look at the models decided to go for it as of party of 3 (our 4th person had to drop out last minute due to an injury), accepting the 50-50 odds and being mentally prepared to turn around if we had to. It turned out we had a perfect weather window and good snow conditions for it.

Day 1: ~13 miles / ~5600 ft gain / 10 hour day (from TH to the camp at 5700 ft)

Hiked 8 miles on the East Bank Trail to the May Creek Camp (in 3 hours), switched from approach shoes (we stashed them in the trees) to mountaineering boots and started the notorious scramble up to gain the ridge and then get close to the toe of the glacier. Going up it wasn’t bad at all, we picked the line of least resistance and were able to avoid major bushwhacking. We set camp at about 5700 ft on a small ridge close to the moraine and the toe of the glacier with some views of the Headwall on our left and the Pickets on the right. We had running water about 100 ft below the camping area. Not a bad spot.

Day 2: ~4 miles and 3400 ft gain / 16 hours day (camp-summit-camp-move camp to May Creek Camp)

Left camp at 4:00 am, got at the base of the headwall and were ready to climb at 6:30 am. We had a 60m rope and 4 pickets.

The party a day ahead of us dealt with waist deep wallowing at the base of the headwall due to the fresh snow building up at the base. When we arrived the next morning in clear blue skies we noted first their tracks were about 30ish feet too high and ended in a section of rocks where they mentioned having turned around in whiteout and bad weather.  Also a fresh avalanche had come down and buried their tracks at the base of the climb. We took advantage of the slide that had firmed up nicely and avoided any wallowing in the deeper snow. Stepping out off the avi debris at the base we easily went up past our knees. 

Ian led up the headwall and ended up doing a single pitch simulclimb. About 300ft up as we had to start the traverse we placed the 1st deadman when the runout started over the cliffs & bergschrund. After ascending the first couple hundred feet up the previous party's tracks we left their track and started an ascending traverse about 50 feet lower to avoid the rocks.

Then each time we ran the rope out to the last picket we put in another horizontal deadman. Only had 1 picket between us for pro at any time. The hard part was coming down. It was an icy sheet of crust with 3”-5" of new snow and a couple icy bits we couldn't kick into the crust. To speed things up with the sun hitting the slopes (getting off before noon was a must), we had Ian and I do a single strand Super Munter / Munter rappel and put in a deadman anchor (placing a 2nd halfway down for the last person, Tim).

Last person had to face in downclimb carefully as we belayed them in. We did that twice. Then the 3rd pitch for the traverse we did a running belay placing a couple pickets. Once at the last couple hundred feet we just all face in downclimbed without pro a hundred feet or so then we could face out plunge step the last hundred feet. We did run belays on the whole ridge (up an to / down from the summit) as well, being very exposed and we were forced to negotiate some cornices.

We did summit around 9:30 am and were back on the glacier relieved we made it down safely around 12:30 pm. We made it back to our camp, packed it up and started our downclimb to the May Creek Camp at 4:00 pm. For some reason (tiredness???) the route we picked on our way down wasn’t as great as it was on our way up and ended up into some ugly bushwhacking. We were so relieved to finally make it down to May Creek Camp at 8:00 pm.

Day 3: ~ 8 miles / 1100 ft gain

We started at 9:00 am our enjoyable hike out and made it back at our cars in 3 hours.

A grand total of about 10,000ft gain and 30 miles round trip.

Glorious climb we had!


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Jerry Logan
Jerry Logan says:
Jul 27, 2022 11:58 AM

Rodica, Love your reports as always. Very detailed. Saw Jack Mountain from an airplane flying to Canada in 2019 and have wanted to climb it since. Looks like it will have to be early in 2013... Thanks! Jerry

Jerry Logan
Jerry Logan says:
Jul 27, 2022 11:59 AM

Make that 2023...