Trip: - Mt Hood- Reid Headwall
I went for my first run at the Reid Headwall Sat, May 2. I had talked with a friend earlier in the week about the climb but he decided he needed to sleep in and climb Sunday instead after a week of staying out till 1am every night. I work Sunday so with a good weather forecast and no one to slow me down I decided to go for it solo.
I finished playing a gig at a wine bar in Milwaukie at around 11:15pm Friday night, drove home and switched out drums for skis and ice tools, and headed up to Timberline for a beautiful moon-lit night on the mountain. I left the car at 3am and started to slog up to Illumination Saddle, getting there in the predawn around 5:20. I talked to 2 other climbers at the saddle. One of them wasn't feeling well and was turning back. His friend decided to solo Leutholds. Looks like I was gonna have the route to myself:)
I headed down to the glacier on perfect firm snow and quickly hiked up to the schrund, my first spicy climbing of the day. Getting up over the small vertical lip of the schrund proved to be rather interesting as the snow was sugary and solid axe placements were non existent. I slammed one in sideways into the slope almost like a deadman anchor and manteled off of it to get myself off of the small snow bridge I had been nervously standing on for a really long minute or two. I let out a little whoop as my nerves settled into the idea of being solo on this climb for the next few hours:)
The next hour or two was just perfect type 1 fun weaving up the climb, alternating between 40-60+ degree hard snow/snice/styrofoam. At around 7:45, I found myself looking up at a buttress of rime covered mushroom looking features that separated two giant gullies of the upper Reid Headwall. I knew the standard route went climbers left at this point, and that the gully to the right would lead up to where the west crater rim route tops out. The ridge looked like the most interesting thing I have ever seen and I thought to myself "go for it. This is why you're here. To make decisions and climb things that look amazing!"
I attacked the buttress! It was the most fun climbing with tools I have ever done. Back and forth small vertical steps of rime and ice would then mellow out for a few feet before getting steep again. I bypassed one slightly overhanging mushroom climbers left on an extremely exposed traverse:) overall this part of the climb was probably about 400-500 vertical feet of AI2-AI3+ and topped out ~200 ft below the west summit, meeting up with the other west side routes and landing me in my first taste of sunshine all day.
I strolled across the ridge line to the summit just before 9am amidst at least 40 south siders. It was a real summit party. Not really my scene after having enjoyed a beautiful solitary mountain experience for the last 3hrs. I quickly ran down the old chute and was skiing down the groomers by 10am. A glorious day on a new route for me on one of my favorite mountains:)
2 tools, brought a picket and 2 screws in case I got spooked at some point and wanted a secure rest but never used em