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[TR] Mt Hood - Leuthold Couloir 2/22/2010

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Trip: Mt Hood - Leuthold Couloir


Date: 2/22/2010


Trip Report:

Sorry there are no pictures: I left my camera in the car yesterday!


On the morning of 2/21 I summated Mt Hood via Leuthold Couloir. Weather and snow conditions were about as excellent as one could hope for this time of year.


I started from the car at shortly before 6 AM with mighty winds blowing out of the SE. My thermometer registered 12 degrees F, so with what I suspect was around a 30 MPH sustained wind (my car literally rocked back and forth all night from the wind), it was quite cold. I almost bagged it at the parking lot thinking it would be too cold for the gear I brought, but decided I had come all this way and may as well at least give it a go. As it turned out, it was cold, but manageable.


I fought my way up against the wind over hard packed snow to Illumination Saddle at 9,300 feet, reaching it at 8:30. By then the sun had come up and I was sheltered from the wind, so I hung out for 45 minutes while I decided whether or not I would make the descent to the Reid Glacier. I knew from later season pictures that a couple of schrunds were buried in the snow and I would be crossing them without a rope. Conditions seemed good for it though with the snow being very consolidated, so I decided to go for it.

After making the descent to the glacier, I crossed to the base of the couloir. I had heard that it could be difficult to identify, but with the clear weather I had, it was no problem. It is huge and obvious. On the left side is the pyramidal buttress of Yokum ridge and a tall narrow tower on the right. From below, the couloir appears to form a deep “V” on the ridge skyline. I used the following picture for reference. http://www.skimountaineer.com/TR/Images2004/HoodReidGlacier062104-1200.jpg.


I ascended from the Reid Glacier kicking steps up what I would guess was 35 degree snow to the entrance of the hourglass. From there things steepened a bit, but not nearly as much as expected (in fact it’s no steeper than the Old Chute on the standard route – though this may change later in the year when there’s less snow in the couloir). After a short dodge to the right and then back to the left, I was back out on widening slopes that were less steep. From the exit of the hourglass, continue straight up to the ridge top. I had great, consolidated snow sometimes kicking steps and sometimes cramponing. Never did I encounter water ice or bare spots. I reached the Ridge top at 10:30 and was feeling the altitude badly.


After resting on the ridge, I turned and continued up another few hundred feet to the summit ridge. From the summit ridge, it’s an exposed traverse to the true summit. The traverse is not too bad except for a short section where you either need to walk on top of the snow or get out on the North face. This section can be avoided (and maybe should be during windy conditions) by descending about 50 feet to the old chute and then back up to the ridge and a short walk to the true summit.


After reaching the ridge above the couloir, I was really feeling the cold and fatigue set in slowing me considerably. I stopped and rested and then headed up, not reaching the summit until just before noon. The summit was sunny and nearly wind-free so I hung out and chatted with some skiers before heading back to the car via the South route. I left the summit a little after 12:30 and got back to the car at 2:30.


I had been trying to climb the couloir for several years, but had always been turned back by bad weather. I was glad to have persevered through the morning wind to get the summit.



Gear Notes:

Helmet, axe, and crampons are needed

Edited by JuanBelay

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oi! after someone's writeup on avy conditions on friday morning we decided to forgo this objective on the same date. none the less sounds like you had a great time and had it all to yourself, very nice. a bit jealous for sure-wish we got out there. ah well..


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Way to persist! Nice idea to start at 6 AM. We started for the same route at 12:30 AM, but got our butts kicked by the wind and cold lower down, and decided to bag it.


Alpine start is indeed overrated :grin: .

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