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[TR] Mt Hood - Eliot Headwall right (Mcjury/Leuthold) 03/06/2022


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Trip: Mt Hood - Eliot Headwall right (Mcjury/Leuthold)

Trip Date: 03/06/2022

Trip Report:


On 3/6/22 My partner and I traversed in to the eliot headwall and climbed three pitches through the right exit notch after climbing the south side (pearly gates left) and then descending to Queens Chair.


Our original plan was the ravine route but we found 24+ inches of wind loaded snow on the typical crossing. Leaving queens chair ~8:30am we had traversed about 1/3 of the way to the tongue of the headwall (where the center cirque route “typically” starts) when we noted dramatically deepening unconsolidated snow. There we dug two rudimentary snow pits with our tools and my partner found two 1x1 foot blocks spontaneously released at about 18 inches of depth. Given the atmospheric river of the week prior and the obvious crown of the recent eliot avalanche (as reported on NWAC), we aborted the ravine plans, and decided to try McJury/Leuthold. This would allow us to stay off the wind-loaded regions.

 We returned to queens chair, ascended ~200 feet back up sunshine route and again traversed east across steeper slopes. This part was excellent neve and ice, with the occasional spooky step consisting of unconsolidated snow on ice.

We quickly reached the base of the right-most buttress of the headwall. We set up a belay there and made a gradually ascending but mostly eastward  traversing pitch around a corner that placed us on the main face (45m). Again a few spooky footholds at times but otherwise straightforward climbing mostly in dagger. A second pitch took us up and left to base of the notch in the cliff (50m): even better ice, mostly daggering. The third pitch (50m) took us to through the crux headwall to the top of notch with excellent water ice at its base, beginning, and end except for a 6 foot section of rotten ice in a tight chimney while moving through the two crux bulges.  I found it awkward and not finding the stem options I had hoped for, climbed it slowly. However it was well protected with 13-16cm screws above and below. I suspect it would go fast and cleanly for a more experienced leader. Although we did find LESS ice than friends did 5 weeks prior. 

Being a relatively new leader I sewed it up and even placed a stubby in the crux although it probably wasn’t necessary. I did not find any rock pro options although I know others have found placements in the past.

we simul climbed another 30m up steep snow topping out just west of the top of old chute.

it was a great day out. Only our second time on this face. Great screws for the most part and able to use 16s throughout except above the crux. 19cm was also used at anchors for pitches 1 and 2.. Above the notch/3rd pitch the good ice vanished quickly and instead of setting up a belay I placed a single 13cm and We chose to simul-climb to the rim, although I think I could have found two 13cms to work here for an anchor with a little effort.

Much colder than we had predicted based on Timberline parking lot temps, and it was much windier than any of the usual forecasters had predicted (UW Time-Height; Mountain Forecast, NOAA). Despite this we did not see any ice or rockfall.

im glad we aborted our initial plans to cross the loaded slopes to The Ravine. Northerly winds were moving a lot of snow, and by evening were causing spontaneous releases in Leutholds where an accident and tragic fatality occurred later this same day.


Gear Notes:
Carried 10 screws: 1x 10cm (found a placement but a stronger leader would probably have kept climbing), 5x 13cm, 3x 16cm, 1x 19cm. Carried small rack of rock gear and a few pieces of iron which were unnecessary. Had a picket, didn’t need it.

Approach Notes:
From Timberline, up south side (dealer’s choice but we used pearly gates due to a great boot pack). Some wallowing on way to hogs back as we were first party up that day

Edited by Ed-the-Ted
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Sorry so few photos. It was REALLY cold. Got barfies just trying to shoot a pic.

you can see the toe of the buttress lit up by sunlight in the upper right of  photo of face. We traversed directly to this point moving completely horizonatally from a point even with it on the sunshine route above queens chair.

Also note that in the same photo at lower left you can see the recent avalanche crown.

has anyone ever climbed the awesome ice on the steps to left of notch? These are the steps immediately to the right of the wallace/Olson chimney. I think they are sometimes climbed in lean years when the W/O chimney isn’t protectable.

Edited by Ed-the-Ted
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