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[TR] Mt. Hood - South side / Old Chute 8/10/2017

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Trip: Mt. Hood - South side / Old Chute


Date: 8/10/2017


Trip Report:

Started up Mt. Hood from the end of the overflow parking at Timberline Lodge, but it would have been better to start up exactly across from the Wy'East lodge entrance (below the main lodge) as there was a snow tongue that reached all the way down there from the top of Palmer. As it was, there was an easy to follow sandy trail, and as it was so sandy gaining elevation often resulted in slippage. Eventually, I found some snow tongues and these were far easier to travel over. The snow was just right and running shoes were fine.


Above the Magic Mile chair lift, I was again back on rock & sand, and eventually decided this was a losing strategy. So, I came back to edge of the ski area to head up its eastern edge. Huffing and puffing my way up, I realized it would have made more sense to have driven up in the evening and slept in the car to acclimatize. Near the midpoint of the Palmer chair lift, I saw two people salting the ski run.


The way up was uneventful and the snow was good. It was a really hazy day, presumably from all the forest fires (such as the Whitewater Fire on Mt. Jefferson). It was almost impossible to see where I'd started from, two miles away, on a seemingly clear day.


I have never seen so many crows in one area. But more than that, the number of butterflies was staggering - the mountain was just awash in them, just riding the gentle breeze.


I did not use crampons till the 10000 foot level, but from this point both overboots and crampons were a good thing. Got to Hogsback at around 2pm. This was my original goal. Higher up, there was occasional rockfall, but none on the climbing path. When I hear rockfall, I look in the general direction of the sound and look for puffs of smoke/dirt or fresh snow to identify the disturbance, because the sound delay is significant.


Since time and weather were on my side, I decided go to the top. Starting at 2:30, I opted to go up Hogsback and then cut to the left on what is known as the Alternate Old Chute. I was not happy on this path, as there were several hidden crevasses with no clear route. It was somewhat of a jumble. It would have been far better to start on the Main Old Chute route and then head up on the big exposed mound that is right where the fumaroles are the smelliest. There is a chute starting at the top of this mound that is a straight shot to the peak (though it also has to bypass one higher up crevasse).


In any case, after cutting over to the left sufficiently, I eventually merged with the chute mentioned in the prior paragraph. The chute was easy to follow, but the snow on would change from soft to icy from one step to the next. I used my ice axe several times as an anchor on my steps. The top 30 feet of the chute transitioned from ice to dirt, and then I was at the top by 4pm. The summit area was almost totally bare of snow. This was the last day of the real heat wave and I didn't even use the sweater I packed. However, it did hail on me for two minutes near the top of the old chute :)


Going down, I found that it was straightforward to back down in the chute facing towards the chute. Unfortunately, I thought it would be faster to take a gentler slope down and follow the freshest tracks, but it turned out they were ski tracks (which meant that it might get dicier a lot farther down) and it cost me quite some time to work my way back to the chute. I was back to Hogsback in an hour. From here, it took me an hour and a half to get down to the parking lot. Once I got to the Palmer, I stayed on the left of the snow that led all the way down to the main lodge - that's where it was most firm. In other places, such as where the snow cat had gone, it meant postholing.1-Overview.jpg2-Registration.jpg3-Skiing.jpg4-ViewDown.jpg5-Hogsback.jpg6-OldChute.jpg7-OldChuteTopHalf.jpg8-OldChuteTop.jpg9-SummitPlateau.jpg10-SummitEast.jpg


Approach Notes:

Leaving from PDX around 5:15am, with a quick stop at the McDonald's in Sandy, I was all set to start up after registering at Timberline's Wy'East day lodge, which is in an alcove to the right just before the entrance double doors. The optimal parking and starting place would be exactly across from the entrance on the right (north) side of the road. Starting two hours earlier would have been better for reducing some exposure to the sun.


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Photo notes:

1. View of the south side of Mt. Hood from the Wy'East parking lot at Timberline Lodge (roughly 4850ft). The groomed snow is the upper half of the Palmer. The big rock sticking out like a thumb in the central crater is Crater Rock.


2. Climbing info in the registration area at the Wy'East day lodge - the registration area was well done, with more info than usual. I climbed up as the top left photo shows. Coming down, I descended to the upper right of the rock that is at the lower left.


3. View from about the midway point up the Palmer chair lift. Lots of skiers and snowboarders. I saw more butterflies from here up to Crater Rock (at the upper right in the photo) than I'd seen in all my life combined!


4. View down from above the Palmer showing how hazy it is. The Palmer and Magic Mile chair lifts are a mile plus in length, but the Mile rises 1000ft, while the Palmer gains 1500 ft. of elevation. The Silcox Hut, Mile top, and Palmer bottom are in close proximity. Note the snow tongue down to Timberline Lodge.


5. View from Hogsback (at about 10,600 ft.). The Alternate Old Chute route follows the ridge up to below the big bergschrund, and then bears left.


6. Again looking up from Hogsback. The best option would have been to go from the right side of that rock on the left of the middle of the photo. The obvious white diagonal streak is the Main Old Chute route. All in the photo is much steeper than it looks.


7. Top half of the Old Chute route. Just have to follow this chute. It goes just to the left of the highest complete peaklet to be seen.


8. Final feet of the Old Chute route. As before, steeper than it looks. Despite the blue skies, it hailed on me for two minutes just after this photo!


9. The summit plateau of Mt. Hood is no problem.


10. View down from the summit to the north side of Mt. Hood. And not even a sweater needed.

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