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[TR] Mt Hood - Yocum Ridge 03/12/2020

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Trip: Mt Hood - Yocum Ridge

Trip Date: 03/12/2020

Trip Report:


Got on Yocum Ridge with one of my most solid partners on Thursday, March 12 2020.  You can read my full trip report and blog post on my site, Spokalpine.  Here's some additional notes for potential suitors:


This is a wild climb! Sustained moderate technical difficulties from bottom to top with a few cruxy sections means that you need calves of steel.  Nerves of steel certainly help too, because protection is very limited on the hard pitches. Being able to comfortably solo AI3/WI3 is a huge asset and probably necessary to get up this thing.  I'm not talking about what gets passed for WI3 in the PNW, either... think legit WI3 with bulges and vertical sections. 

I've talked to a few people who think the route could earn an AI4 rating but I don't think there was anything sustained enough to earn that grade.  Not that it matters, because it seems impossible to grade rime ice on the typical waterfall/alpine ice scale. It's so unstable and difficult to protect... this isn't the place to use your perfect A-frame technique that works so well on waterfall ice.  Distributing weight between your tools and foot placements is required. If you swing more than once or twice into a placement, the whole placement likely disintegrates and you're left trying to find somewhere else to swing.  As I was placing a screw on the first crux, the tool I was hanging off of pulled 4 inches through the shitty ice before it hit a blob of blue ice that would support me.  This was especially hair-raising considering the massive exposure on either side of the first gendarme.

My experience on Yocum Ridge was intense and satisfying.  After the climb, Kyle hit the road back to Portland and I drove to Hood River to stay the night. After a good dinner and some galavanting with new friends from the local bar, I sat alone in a park along the river.  24 hours earlier, Kyle and I had left Timberline for our climb. The famous Nietzsche quote "...if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you" bounced around my mind.  After staring into the very literal abyss on either side of Yocum Ridge, I was more focused on the figurative. Yocum Ridge took most of what I had to give - and in return, it gave back to me.  The mark of a truly challenging and worthwhile climb.

Gear Notes:
Three pickets, six screws (3x 10cm, 2x 13cm, 1x 17cm), pitons, small cams (used up to .75), nuts (tiny to medium sizes). I would not get on this route without a rope system that enables long rappels. We did one rappel that was 55 meters.

Approach Notes:
Easy as it gets

Edited by The Real Nick Sweeney
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Nice work! Love your descriptive write-up. 

Extra props for the Nietzsche. Haven’t got Yocum under my belt yet, but I’m intimately acquainted with that feeling that lingers after spending a long time in a sea of no fall terrain, connecting insecure move after insecure move... at some point you start to feel the abyss eyeing you back. 


Edited by Nolan E Arson
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I enjoyed your episode of The Firn Line podcast. You did a good job describing the route in a clear fashion while flavoring the sequence with your experience climbing the route. And, boy, what a route! (I've read your trip reports since running into you on Dragontail/3C a few years ago.)

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