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Ben_Heavner

Hood this weekend

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Now that the nice high pressure system is forecasted to move out and avalanche conditions are predicted to be picking up this weekend, it looks like my long-planned trip to hood with my dad is going to happen just in time for bad weather.

Given that, does anyone have any advice on how to minimize any avalanche danger on the normal palmer lift route on Hood? I think the turtle is the primary area of risk, and the pearly gates are another area of moderate risk. Are there any recommended route variations to minimize avalanche exposure, if we get up there in a potential storm?

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I'm curious why you scheduled a climb of Hood so far in advance for this time of year. The weather is usually highly mutable at all levels on the mountain and (assuming you are using the lift to get up some of the route) the high lift is often closed due to high winds.

Were you going to use skis for some of the ascent? A more sheltered (and less crowded) option would be to take the tour up from Cooper Spur ski area to Tilly Jane cabin or Cloud Cap on the north side. This isn't a summit attempt but it is more sheltered and if the weather does break, you will get an outstanding view of the Eliot Glacier.

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You've really got to want it to climb S.Side Hood in bad conditions in winter. You may already know all about this, but you should have some reasonable nav skills (the so-called "triangle" is really not that tough, despite the heards of people who STILL get lost on that decent). Be prepared for some absolutely brutal wind at times. The winter route has the "purification through pain" asthetics of many cascade climbs and has quite a different character than the trad. spring climb. Personally, it has to be absolutely gorgeous outside for me to bother with that route, but then again, I've done it many times before. Perhaps you might want to try it out, despite the weather, but you might change your mind in the waist-deep sludge approaching the hogsback. If anything, it's a great way to get in shape. Here's to a rescue-free weekend.

-Iain

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I swear this is the last post I'll put in here, but Walter mentioned the Mazamas avalanche incident a few years ago. Here's an interesting image capture from that incident. Good crown fracture all along the west crater rim.

hood_av.gif

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Thanks for the info, all. I've been up Hood 3 times before, so am aware of some of the route finding issues. We'll carry equipment to spend a couple nights on the mountain if need be.

We planned this trip a while in advance realizing the weather was a crapshoot (we lost, it looks like), but went for cheap airfare. Should be a good chance to play in some snow, though. I'll let you know how high we get.

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I summited on tuesday morning. All the snow is pretty consolidated except mushy from the hogsback up to the gate.

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Nice photo Imorris. A friend and I decided not to ski up that way on that day because of all the new snow and the high freezing level forecast for the day. I calculated that we would have been up there just in time to participate in the "rescue" if we hadn't bailed at the last minute and gone on a bike ride. Let's hear it for the gut-feeling.

I probably shouldn't have put "minimal" in my first sentence because the sides of the Hogback do go on occasion - I've seen some small slides on the west side and unstable conditions on the east side of it.

Ben,

Later Saturday or early Sunday are the best bet for a break, but don't count on it. It'll probably be blowing pretty hard too as it'll be the tail end of the first big system. Good luck if you go. Take goggles.

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Ben,

Avalanche hazard on the South Side route is minimal provided you stay on-route. The south side of the mountain tends to get wind-blasted. All of the snow ends up on east and northeast aspects (e.g. White River Canyon). The primary area of concern is the east facing slope approaching the Hogback below Crater Rock (above the head of the White River Gl.). Once on the Hogback, you are relatively "sheltered" though slab does form on both sides of the Hogback, depending on the wind. The Pearly Gates are a wind tunnel and so are rarely a problem. The West Crater Rim, west of the standard route, can get loaded and should be avoided after a big snowfall. It usually cuts loose with a couple of big ones every year - a group of Mazamas were avalanched there a few springs ago. That's another story belonging in the thread on the Mountaineers.

Winter is a great time to climb the south side of Hood (or any other side for that matter)as there are fewer people, more interesting conditions and a great ski to the bottom. That said, weather on Hood is a crapshoot in the winter. Given that the firehose (jetstream) is headed our way again, you will likely be climbing in a full-on white out above 7,500 feet with 30 to 50 mph winds unless you get lucky. In case those conditions don't turn you off, good navigation skills are critical or you will end up in White River Canyon (bad), or Zig-Zag Canyon (also bad). White River Canyon tends to develop some whopper cornices in a storm, and the glacier is crevassed. Two guys were just rescued this morning from near White River Canyon after spending the night - they got lost in a whiteout yesterday and called via cell phone (I won't go into my thoughts on that). Fortunately, they were prepared to spend the night. But they probably shouldn't have gotten lost as it's a relatively simple navigation problem. That said, the mountain is often climbed in really crappy weather. But it's not fun or particularly satisfying. You need a compass, map and the knowledge how to use them in full-on crappy conditions. You also have to really want to bag a summit regardless of aesthetic or comfort considerations.

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Back off Safely. Thanks for the advice, all.

As expected, we had some nice full-on conditions this past weekend. Wind was the biggest issue, but there was snow and cold, too. I've got some uncropped (ie, really big) pictures online at http://www.benheavner.com/climbing/pics/hood/ if you're interested in seeing me and my dad stumbling through the whiteness.

I'll get a longer trip report up on rec.climbing in the next couple days, but the short version is we got up above the palmer lifts, then broke a tent pole and decided to head back down, getting to Timberline lodge again shortly after dark after about 7 hours on the move on the mountain. A snow cave is the way to go, but it was some hard digging in the snow/ice when we were digging out a platform for the tent.

Dad got a kick out of it, and we both came down safe and sound. It was a fun weekend.

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Sheee-yat man, I was riding at Meadows on Sat and every trip up the lift between going "holy jeez it's windy" I was thinking "that dude trying to climb the southside is WAY MISERABLE right now". Glad you knew when to say when. Riding was quite the adventure though since visibility was maybe 10ft, good snow though.

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LOL! I was at meadows too thinking the exact same thing! I was the one curled up in a ball mumbling incoherently on the shooting star lift all day. Hard to believe people spend $45 to do that. Meadows thinks big and charges big. I only find it afforable w/ a 10-time pass.

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Nice pictures by the way, looks like you had a good time. Those kinds of climbs can be fun in their own way. At least you had the route to yourselves (probably), and you've been to the top before a few times.

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I was at home in Portland that morning and went outside. It was dark, wet and windy. I thought, "there is no way in hell that guy got more than fifty feet from the parking lot." But it sounds like you did all the right things, and had fun doing it. Went up, had the sense to turn back at the right time, and came home in time to enjoy it all.

Enjoyed the photos. The one of your dad looks like he's frozen solid! Great fun, I'm sure!

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