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KevinGlover

Is Mt. Hood still as scary as it looked in March

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Hi all,

I'm posting this mostly after reading about the accident in March, and the nasty conditions then. I'm hoping to drive from Spokane to climb Mt. Hood the first weekend of May, if weather and conditions permit. I have climbed a lot in Washington but have never seen Mt. Hood from any higher up than the lodge. I am bringing an inexperienced partner with me and will make conservative decisions. I also don't want to drive 6 hours if the mountain's gonna be in terrible shape.


I'm hoping some of you who are local to Hood can help me a little with beta on current conditions. 

Here's what I understand of current conditions:
1) it's been a low snow year, and stuff is falling off the upper cliffs a lot
2) the current surface is a lot of irregular, large, unstable rimey features
3) weather has still been bringing in some snow, with temps mostly below freezing and not a lot of freeze/thaw solidifying of the snowpack up high

Does this sound accurate to anyone who's seen the mountain recently? Any Hood veterans willing to make a forecast of how the mountain will shape up in the next three weeks? 

Thanks for information,


Kevin

Edited by KevinGlover

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Hi Kevin,

Hood conditions are very different than they were in March. I was climbing the same day as the accident in March and I’ve been up on the Wy’East ridge as recent as yesterday (April 20), but I’ve not traveled up or down the standard south routes for a few weeks  

There is a lot of new snow from the recent storms. The big rime formations below the Devil’s kitchen are long gone, and we were post-holing for much of the day yesterday. There has been some freeze-thaw over the past few days, with strong solar effects as well; the forecast shows more of both to come and a nice long weather window. This is all adding up to create great climbing conditions.

 With the new snow and warming conditions, definitely start early and get down before things get slushy. Wet avalanches and delaminated rime bombs can happen in these conditions.

You should climb! I definitely recomend a second tool, especially for beginners, and don’t be afraid to face in and dagger. 

From the Steel Cliffs/Wy’East Ridge I couldn’t see any openings in the bergschrund, but no guarantees.  

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Hey Nolan, thanks for the info man. It's awesome to have someone who has had eyes on the route. Good to know that the rime beneath Devil's has gone, and that the snow on the route seems to be cycling. I will keep tracking the weather, and we'll just see how things shape up in two weeks. 

I took an Avy 1 course this winter, but it was very much oriented to a continental snowpack. And the climbing I've done has been in very safe summer conditions. So I still have a lot of experience to gain with maritime snowpacks (or just spring snowpacks in general). I will watch for wet avalanches and signs of flying rime dinner plates and make sure to get a nice early start. 

 

Anyway, thanks again for the info and let me know if you see anything else pertinent while up there!

 

Kevin

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As a general rule, Hood doesn't set up to be "in" or "out" for long periods of time. It changes daily up there through mid summer. I was on lower Yokum the day of the accident and those were very unique conditions caused by a lot of direct sun followed by a very hard freeze and two consecutive clear nights. Two days later, it was a different mountain. 

A good general guideline is to avoid the upper slopes during changes in weather just as you would be wary of a snowpack undergoing rapid changes. For example, I'm very cautious about going up on the first sunny day after a large storm cycle. That's when the mountain will be changing the most, and shedding a lot of accumulated rime. So I try and wait until there has been at least one full day with the same conditions in which I plan to climb. 

For example, the freezing level is forecast to go from 7k tonight to almost 12k by Tuesday morning and it is supposed to stay high through Thursday. So for me, I would be worried about going on Tuesday in particular, seeing as it's the first day of a new set of parameters up there. That's not to say climbing Wednesday when it's 40 degrees on the summit is advisable, but it's probably going to be a lot less hairy than tomorrow and Tuesday. 

Anyway...them's my two cents. 

  • Rawk on! 2

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We just climbed the Southside route today and conditions were excellent. Snow was firm crust with good traction. Hogsback is very wide, no issue with the bergschrund, and the Gates was solid to the summit. There is a lot of ice in it that will have to start falling as the season goes. Forecast is changing now but I would go at the next chance of good weather.

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Whatcomboy, how directly did the Hogsback lead to the Pearly Gates this year? Does it pop you out pretty directly beneath them?

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