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DET

[TR] Mt. Hood - Steel cliffs south face 03/17/2021

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Posted (edited)

Trip: Mt. Hood - Steel cliffs south face

Trip Date: 03/17/2021

Trip Report:

 

Climbed the south face of steel cliffs on a beautiful sunny Wednesday.

We were expecting the initial "step" (that gets us from the lower snow ramp to the upper snow ramp) to be steep snow/ice but it ended up being a full pitch of thin drips and rock. We climbed the east side of the prominent "boulder" (west of the cave). There were short and narrow vertical steps (6-10 feet) between more tame slopes. Placed an ok screw here and there, slung some horns, occasionally put the tools away to stem and pull on holds inside slots between rock. 

After the step we traversed left to the upper ramp. Snow conditions were great for easily kicking steps. Though there was some rock hidden under thin snow at the low end. 

The Wy'east traverse was a slog. Deep soft snow and wind almost the whole way (skiers paradise though...). We had some scares punching all the way through the 18-24 inch slab into hollow caves/holes below. Despite following a faint boot pack (when visible), I fell in to my chest at one point. Luckily my feet hit the rocky bottom. The "crux" traverse was in great shape and we had no issue at all. 

But the final ascent up to the ridge proper (shortly after the crux traverse) was scary. 45-50 degree soft soft snow. Post holing to knees and beyond. At one point we punched clean through that slab and couldn't see the bottom. Despite the "Low" avy danger that day, we did not feel happy on that slab. Maybe we're paranoid but had we known it was that soft and hollow we wouldn't have done that part of the route. 

After a few minutes on the windy summit we descended the gates.

Gear Notes:
4 screws, 4 pickets, 50m rope

Approach Notes:
Good snow for skinning all the way to the glacier but we dropped skis at palmer

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Edited by DET
added photos
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Posted (edited)

Nice work! It was cool to run into you yesterday on the way back down to the Palmer. 

I feel your pain on the Wy’East ridge traverse. It’s spectacularly beautiful up there, but it seems like it’s always a longer and deeper slog than it looks to get to the gendarme——a slog punctuated with the occasional adrenaline surge as hollow snow over a steam vent collapses and you take a mini ride. 

Edited by Nolan E Arson
Noun verb agreement

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9 hours ago, Nolan E Arson said:

Nice work! It was cool to run into you yesterday on the way back down to the Palmer. 

Nice to meet you up there too. Looking forward to seeing your TR!

Yea I'm not a fan of those mini rides... 

 

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Great great work, thx for sharing :D

Now I'm really curious, if nothing else for educating myself on mountain safety - what exactly were you punching through to? Loose snow? Crevasses (I thought there are never crevasses up there?)? Snow/ice caves carved by volcanism? Sounds scary.

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On 3/21/2021 at 10:25 AM, nonbasketless said:

what exactly were you punching through to?

Near rock outcrops it's likely melt from the sun heating the rock. Otherwise steam vents. 

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Ohhh, I see, I've fallen into that sort of thing where Palmer spills onto White River. Spooky indeed but not too dangerous.

Steam vents on the other hand, yeesh.

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