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Cooper spur in winter


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Anybody know if Cooper Spur is considered to be a good winter route on Hood? I climbed the route several years ago and remember it pretty much following the ridge which seems like it would minimize avalanche danger, but I just saw some description on the web which said it had high avi danger. Any other good winter routes you might recommend?

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I know a girl that was in an avalanche on the Cooper Spur already this year. She was very lucky and didn't follow the normal fall line over the elliot glacier. It was a small slide but she went down over a thousand feet and she was gagged on the snow. It you do go, be careful at the top of the route as you ascend up one of the upper shoots to the summit.

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All the routes on the mountain can be climbed in

the winter, in stable conditions, but all of the

routes with easterly facing aspects are going to

be the most avi-prone(NE,E&SE); this because most

of the weather patterns come from the west. This

would then make your westerly facing routes a bit

safer choice(Cooper Spur is also the route most

people fall on and deaths occur!). I personaly

would recommend the Reid Glacier Headwall(many

possible variations!) or perhaps Cathedral Ridge

(early season variation) as both are steep enough

to shed new snow quickly and subsequently make for more interesting climbing. Try picking up a copy of Jeff Thomas 'Oregon High'; it has all of

the routes on Mt. Hood, as well as the rest of

Oregon's Cascades. Talk to ya labia! [big Drink]

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To both Texplorer's and RP's point it can be a very dangeous route if avy conditions are high. It is also a great winter climb with a group or solo if you are up to it. Most people that fall off the Spur do so while decending the upper gulleys. The approach is straight forward, not very difficult and most of it can be done on skis as well as the lower portion of the route.

A few years back a friend and I did it in a long day car to car in late March. To one of RP's other points in the right conditions every route on Hood can be done in winter. It justdepends whatyou are up to.


[ 12-12-2001: Message edited by: wdietsch ]

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I suspect nobody mentioned the south side because you asked about Cooper Spur. I've done the south side route (and several of the other routes already mentioned) in the winter, and all are great in appropriate conditions. One nice thing about the south side is you can ride the lift about halfway to Crater Rock. It's a great ski-descent from the summit, too.

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The South Side Route is for the neophyte climber.

Unless you are a beginner or don't know crevasse

rescue, it is better used as the descent route,

after you have climbed another route. Plus, the E

side of Crater Rock and the E side of the lower

portion of the Hogsback can still be avi-prone.

Snow stability needs to be evaluated on any route.

There are also better ski descents than the South

Side Route as well, ie.. West Crater Rim, Wy'East,

Leuthold Couloir, Snow Dome(below Elliot Glacier

Headwall & Sunshine Routes) and Cooper Spur. One

more thing; only the Magic Mile chair lift is open

in the winter(the first chair from the lodge up),

the Palmer chair lift(the top one) is closed in

the winter, so the chairs only take you a little

way above the lodge. Any more questions? [Moon]

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yo Jarred,

You shouldn't ever need a 2nd tool for LeutholdCouloir, as it's only 40-45 degrees; good use ofFrench Technique should eliminate the need of a2nd tool on slopes under 55-60 degrees. Beware ofpossible avi danger on this route after/shortlyafter a storm. For what it's worth, I've never brought a 2nd tool, in the six times I've climbedthe route.

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Hey Tex,

When you go to try the Sandy Glacier Headwall, andyour feeling a little spicey, give the 1937 variationa go; it's a little steeper(55+), with a 60-70'ft.section of 75+ degrees. At the hourglass portion ofthe headwall, trend right, up towards the top ofYocum Ridge, staying just left of a prominant rib.I've done this route a couple of times and it is areally good climb(seldomly done). By the way, I dotry to keep the spray where it belongs.

cheers! [big Drink]

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Cooper: Avi danger on this route cannot be over-emphasized. Winter time is a great time to do this route but hit it real early and go down south side. I'm really surprised no one else has mentioned the South Side as a descent for Cooper Spur as its way safer. The car shuttle is a bit of a logistical problem but easily overcome. Avi danger increases as the snow softens in the afternoons and most people fall on the descent so make life easier and head to Timberline afterwards for a cold (or warm) one. We did it this way in Nov. 00 and had a blast of it although the car shuttle turned into an epic.

Great beta on the Sandy Headwall variation RP. We did that on New Years Eve '99. Best climbing day I've ever had on Hood. Best advice for this route: follow the beta about keeping low to get over Yokum. We didn't. At first. Har har.

Do the folks at Timberline still sell one-ride lift tickets?

That slog up the south side ski area bites.


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Have fun waiting for two days of decent weather w/o avi hazard up there. I'd certainly recommend Sandy HW earlier than later. I was bombarded by rockfall off upper Yocum ridge, just before heading up after the traverse across Sandy G. All signs showed the route to be in stable condition. If you are looking for climbing partners, let me know.


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I haven't posted here in ages. Goodness.

Another early season alternative are several of the routes on the East Crater Rim (Devil's Kitchen Headwall, Flying Buttress, etc.) Follow the South Side to the bottom of the Hogsback, make a sharp right, and go up. Quite steep at the top, which turned a friend and myself back a couple of years ago. But you top out on top of the Steel Cliffs, and then get the funnest part of the Wy East, without out the avy prone lower slopes that Wy East has. Once the snow starts to melt, these routes would be terrible.

Timberline does single lift tickets, but climbers must have one MLU in the group, or they won't let you go. This is the only way to climb in my opinion, as the lower slopes are absolute misery to climb.

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matt an mlu is a tracking beacon of sorts. you are supposed to rent it and then carrying with you. once you are fucked you pull this red ball and it starts transmitting. but the then is they dont monitor the signal till 24hrs overdue and the unit can only be activated by some one activly pulling the red ball. so if you fall in a crevasse, they wont find you, you are dead. if you fall off of a cliff, they wont find you, you are dead. and the scenerio repeats. almost a good idea, but not quite.

oh yeah it is called a mt hood locator unit.

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Actually, it stands for Mountain Locator Unit. None the less you've pretty much got the idea. I don't know about the 24 hour rule after pulling it though. Have to look into that. Though it wouldn't surprise me. Off season the USFS rangers definitely do not check the registration box daily. More like weekly.

Actually, here's how the MLU really works: If you need a ride up the chair lift, you take one. If you need to get rescued, and don't want to pay for the rescue, you should have taken one (yes, true, they gouge you otherwise). And in the rare chance you're in serious trouble, and you can't get yourself out of it (or get help from nearby climbers) and don't have a workable cell phone, etc. the thing just might save your life.

Most climbers I know don't take them. I usually don't. Though it depends on the partners, route, weather forecast, blah, blah.

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The thing is, the people who utilize the trackingsystem that locates the MLU, don't monitor the system24 hours a day; they don't monitor it until-1)aperson in your party makes it out and initiates arescue 2)you call for a rescue(cell phone,hand-heldCB,VHF handheld or you get really lucky,like Mr.Frankenfeld(?) and someone hears you on your littleMotorola Talkabout. Just because you pulled the littleorange ball and called for a rescue(this only refersto calling someone for a rescue), doesn't mean yourass is 100% saved, either! If your in bad(critical)shape, or in a hard to get to/remote location, youmight be screwed anyway. I've watched people at REIrenting their equipment for a Hood climb and whengiven the chioce "do you want a helmet or a MLU?",9 out of 10 people choose the MLU. That tells methat the MLU are mostly for dumbasses! Then theycarry this thing with the same confidence, that aperson with the needed skill,experience,WFR,fullfirst aid kit,map,compass & altimeter has! Thereis no better way to prepare yourself, than with theitems I just mentioned. I've aided a couple of lostparties high on the mountain, who had one of thesedevices. They are a so-so idea.

[ 01-09-2002: Message edited by: Richard Pumpington ]

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Walter B. and I did the Sandy Glacier Headwall as part of a party of four several years ago. Actually we were four then the fifth guy showed up at midnight with some dog who followed him from Timberline, but that's another story. He soloed the tourist route.

We spent the night at Illumination Saddle and witnessed my Stephenson Warmlite tent get blown to bits. Once the poles exploded and disappeared we were in a giant sandwich bag that flapped and rained condensation on us all night, but that's another story. Illumination Saddle is a great place to test gear.

We got an early start and made it over to the base of the headwall without incident. The wind was still howling up high and was dumping large chunks of ice and semi-solidified dirt (cascade rock)on us on the headwall. We all had helmets, a second tool and two ropes but they were in our packs.

I'm still not sure why we didn't put on the helmets but we didn't. Snow conditions were great. We veered to the right on the upper third and inadvertently ended up doing the 1937 variation Dick talks about. Walter kicked steps to within about a hundred feet of the ridge then I took over. We still had the helmets and second tools in our packs but we did pull out the rope. As I took over, the slope got steeper and a lot harder, but of course I didn't notice this until I was too far into to it to pull out the other tool, screws or helmet. I made it to a semi-solidified dirt band and had one move to make to get around a bulge and get on the ridge. As I made the move I found myself holding a loaf of bread-sized chunk of frozen dirt. Now, with the ice-axe dangling off of one arm, the loaf of bread in my other I looked down at my helmetless climbing partners 70 feet below me. The belay consisted of Walter with his axe driven half-way into the slope. As I made the move I was forced to drop the loaf (Walter claims he still has a bump on his head from the impact. I submit that the bump was pre-existing and that the loaf exploded and turned into dirt before it hit him) and kind of half dove/half fell over the ridge.

We got serious at that point and belayed everyone up and put our helmets on before descending Leutholds Couloir.

A very fun memorable climb. We still wonder where the hell the dog came from and where he ended up.Terry

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Originally posted by Terry:
We still wonder where the hell the dog came from and where he ended up.Terry

That dog was probably a CLU - Canine Locator Unit. They were used before the MLU was developed. Very old school. If you got into trouble you yanked on its balls and it howled so loud they could hear it from the ranger station. Then after 24 hours it got hungry and ran home. If the dog came back without you they knew to come looking.

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