May 2016 Trip Report
The first time we attempted 3FJ we turned around at the saddle. Conditions sucked and we were in a cloud, but we’re not going to talk about that.
For attempt #2, we brought along 2 friends for a party of 4. We all met at the PCT trailhead across the road from Hoodoo Ski Area at 0500. The trail to the mountain snakes through a dead forest and gradually gains 1,000 feet over a 5-mile distance. The only obstacles were a few fallen trees. If you don’t want to get lost be sure to stay on the PCT. Don’t take any detours.
Most people climbing the mountain follow the PCT and go left, which goes around the first hill before climbing the saddle to 3FJ. We hit the snow line at 5,800 feet and lost the trail. With no trail we decided to shoot an azimuth going straight up and over the hill (“if climbing, go up” say’s Josh) before traversing the saddle to begin the climb of 3FJ. I’m not sure if this way was better, but it did give us a pretty good view of the mountain we were about to climb.
The actual climb of 3FJ starts with a steep scramble up loose rock and lava dirt. We were all climbing, heads down, talking, and enjoying the exercise when at one moment we realized the exposure to our right (this was about 30m before the “crawl”). We stopped in our tracks and decided it was time to lay protection. We had about 5 double length slings and 2 single length. The double length slings were the work horses of the trip. They fit over every horn and if they are too big we just doubled them up into a single. I wouldn’t climb the mountain without a handful of these.
I slung a horn and clipped myself into it then belayed josh while he lead the route. Once Josh ran out of slings or rope, he would build an anchor by slinging a horn, then in the extra rope and hold tension while Alisha and Dan traversed by clipping into the hand line.
**Note: a prusik for each person would have been nice since a fall would have sent them sliding down the rope until the next piece of protection. Duh
We did this over 3 pitches before reaching the chimney. Pitch 2 was the “crawl” and has a piton before the obvious ledge in the crawl, as well as a permanent anchor on the far side consisting of nylon slung over a boulder. We trusted and used it.
The final pitch up the “chimney” is short and sweet. I lead it in bulky boots I picked up at REI the day before. The rock was solid enough and had plenty of big holds. There is a permanent anchor point midway through as well as one on top. I sat on top and belayed everyone to the picnic table sized summit. The view from the top is worth the climb, as is every climb, that’s why we do it.
Once we filled out eyes and cameras, I belayed Alisha and Dan down (since they didn’t have ATC’s) while Josh and I rappelled.
Coming back we did the same 3 pitches in reverse and I am glad we had a rope because I would not down climb the “chimney” or the “crawl” without a rope. I’m no good climbing down backwards.
After packing up the rope and getting off the crumbly volcanic mountain I cursed myself for not bringing a snowboard. The descent options were excellent. I hear most people ski the south-west chute but the south-east looked far better to me.
We retraced our steps and glissaded down until the snow ended. We reached our cars with a round trip time of 11 hours.
Here’s my Strava
5 double length slings + 2 single length slings
1 giant loop of cordollette
Locking carabiners for each sling
Harness + PAS + ATC
50m Rope (70m would be better)
Ice Axe + Crampons (crampons not really needed)