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[TR] Mt. Hood- North Face - Right Gully 12/23/2004


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Climb: Mt. Hood-North Face - Right Gully


Date of Climb: 12/23/2004


Trip Report:

I hadn’t been to the top of Mt. Hood yet, my two attempts over the last six years both ended near the top of the Palmer lift in really bad weather, so when vw4ever suggested I come down and do the North Face with him I figured I ought to give it another try. The route looked a lot more appealing that the south side slog, maybe even motivating enough to get me to the top this time.


I headed down to Portland on Wednesday afternoon to meet up with vw4ever and DonV, piled my gear in the car and we headed out around 8pm. After dropping off DonV’s pickup truck at the Timberline parking lot, we drove vw4ever’s jeep around and up to the end of the Cloud Cap road. The gate was still open and the snow was soft in spots, but we made it all the way to the end of the road. We crashed out until about 2:30 AM when we awoke and shouldered our packs and headed out about 3:15.


We made ok time up the Elliot and then took a short break to make sure we didn’t hit the bergschrund too early. After the break we got to the schrund right as the sky began to lighten. Finding a nice relatively solid snow bridge we crossed without incident and headed up the right gully. The left gully looked nice too and there were several other nifty looking icy bits in the area.


Conditions were nearly perfect with hard snow that just loved our ice tools and crampons and the ice steps all took screws pretty well. VW led the first step, Don the second, and myself the third, Don retook the lead for the final bit taking us up to the right from the last ice step and popping us out right on the summit with a bit more thin ice and funky stuff near the top.


We stayed roped up from the Elliot to the top, simul climbing with very occasional pro for most of it and pitching out the two steepest ice bulges. We kept a pretty steady pace only stopping to switch leads or when I wanted to spend more time futzing with belays (where I managed to drop a 10cm OP ice screw if anyone finds one). We made the summit around 2 PM.


The weather was beautiful the whole way although the wind picked up a bit near the top and started raining ice chunks on us. Don took one in the eye that gave him an interesting bruise, but other than that it wasn’t bad. Popping up onto the summit we were suddenly rewarded with a beautiful sunny, warm, calm spot, truly amazing. After a half hour break to snack and unrope we headed down the south side trough. Descent was uneventful except for the glove I donated to the mountain when the wind grabbed it as I was removing it from my hand and tossed it down into the steam vent just west of the Hogsback. I briefly considered rapping down to retrieve it but then realized just how idiotic that would be. I was obviously getting a bit tired but considering I was coming pretty much off the couch and I hadn’t been above 3000 feet since July I figure I was still doing pretty well.


We ran into John and Julian coming off the Leuthold Couloir on the walk down the cat track which made the last few tiring steps go a little faster. We reached the truck just after sunset.


And thus any normal TR would end, back at the car, drinking beer, heading out to get a well deserved dinner somewhere and then driving home to beautiful women and warm beds and champagne and strawberries to celebrate. Hmm, nope. We all piled into Don’s car to go pick up the jeep at the end of Cloud Cap. About halfway up Cloud Cap we were confronted with the rather surprising sight of another pickup, lying on its side, crossways in the road. The two interesting gentlemen who had been in it were unhurt but couldn’t really give a clear explanation of how they got their truck into that position. We managed to sneak by on the road shoulder, hook a chain to one side and pull their truck upright. We hoped they would be able to start it and get it out of the way before we came down again, but that turned out to not be a concern.


About a mile from the end of the road we bogged down in the snow and despite pushing, pulling, shoving, digging, and cursing we couldn’t move. VW ran up the road and got the jeep and tried to push the pickup out with it, also to no avail. Eventually I crashed with exhaustion as VW and Don continued fruitlessly to try to dig out the truck, eventually getting the jeep stuck as well and then unstuck again, but still blocked in by the pickup. We got a hold of AAA for a tow, but they didn’t relay the information properly and when we finally talked to the actual tow truck operator he said he’d try to get up in the morning. We called at 6:30 AM and were told the driver should be there soon. That’s what we heard at 7:30 and 8:30 too, so we started to think about hiking out or spending Christmas with the trucks. Fortunately the tow truck made it just after 9. We were rather skeptical after watching his truck get stuck 4 or 5 times just coming towards us, but with some excellent winch work we were soon all on our way down the mountain. We hit the Huckleberry Inn for a long overdue dinner/breakfast/lunch just after noon.


All in all, it was an excellent trip, even considering the costs of actually getting out. We were granted passage on a really beautiful route and I finally checked Hood off in the book. We lucked out with good snow and ice conditions, good weather, and good partners.


Pics to follow soon.



Gear Notes:

Two ice tools, 3 pickets, 8 screws (lots of stubbies) and a bit of rock gear, we used the screws and pickets.


Approach Notes:

Cloud cap road is passable to SOME vehicles, but not for long. Don't get stuck, the tow bill sucks.

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Thanks for sharing. Remember to post pictures when you get them.



Great trip report! (except for the "checked Hood off in the book" part). There are other interesting routes on the mountain and the North Face will likely be very different should you ever choose to repeat it.



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