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EastKing

[TR] Mt. Hood - Old Chute 5/9/2010

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Trip: Mt. Hood - Old Chute

 

Date: 5/9/2010

 

Trip Report:

Before I begin writing yet another Mount Hood trip stating and showing the success and struggles I had on Mount Hood I want to pay a respect for Luke Gullberg, Katie Nolan and Anthony Vietti. For those who didn’t know the story about these climbers, they were the climbers who passed away on Mount Hood in December of 2009. Though I didn’t know Katie Nolan or Anthony Vietti, I talked to Luke briefly at REI about Mount Hood, and Rainier. He was one of the nicest people I have ever ran into and he had a true passion for climbing. It was literally a week or two before he passed away on Mount Hood. I decided to make a sign for each of them in order to pay my respects to those three climbers. I hope all who climb Hood keep them in mind.

 

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The trip itself up to Mount Hood had many obstacles. I had planned the trip for May 1st only to find out that I wasn’t going to get the time off for that weekend and had to do the following weekend. I will just say this statement in that it turned out to be a blessing because May 1st -2nd was absolute horrible in terms of weather. Then due to the bad weather , special avalanche bulletins were warning climbers of high avalanche danger through the week and weekend of May 8th and 9th . The final obstacle was the fact that I came down with a brief cold on Thursday probably due my nerves about leading my first trip with the club and wanting to pay my respects for the climbers. But when I saw that the nights on Hood were dropping into the teens and they would be clear and the weather was looking good I knew I had to make the trip a go and give the peak a shot.

 

The game plan was to leave the parking lot at 10:30 with the other people I was leading. I had no idea how fast they were going to be so I had to err on the side of caution. I wanted absolutely no sun going up on this mountain, especially with the avalanche danger projected to be higher than normal. I also knew that I could summit this peak in under 5 hours but I didn’t know much about my crew except they were all Rainier veteran and were all grads of my Glacier climbing class. I also made sure to let them know that I was more concerned about their safety than about the summit and that I rather have them pissed at me than injury or worse. I remember my experiences last year which lead me to decide not to rope up for this climb. I personally saw it being more of a danger than a help for the Old Chute.

 

 

 

Then came the day of the climb at 10:30 we got the crew ready and it was time to head up for Hood. There was seven of us in the beginning. We made great progress heading up Mount Hood. But unfortunately at 7000 feet one of our members had to turn around due to food poisoning from a sandwich he ate about four hours before. At 7800 feet though the trip lost two more members. One of the members sprained an ankle while traversing through the snow. This forced one of our MOFA certified members and our most experienced climber to head down with him back to the ski lodge. I want to thank her very much because she had never been to Mount Hood and always wanted to summit the mountain. I hope she gets her chance with Hood soon.

 

It did shake me up a little so I talked to other remaining climbers and told them that we are going up to Palmer Lift and then we take it one step at a time from there. Amazingly we made to the Palmer Lift in under two hours. This news was not good news because it was 12:30 and only had 2600 feet to go. At the pace we were going we were going to summit at 3:30! So I decided to slow the pace here and take a couple small breaks. When we made the Hogsback at 3:15 am we all decided to take a thirty minute break there and boil up some water and eat some food. It was probably the coldest thirty minutes I ever had in my life and despite the down jacket and being triple layered I was extremely cold. Not to mention the sulfur in the crater was pretty strong, though not as strong as my first attempt. The cold air though gave me great hope that the snow would freeze enough to considerably lower the avalanche danger. It turns out I was right.

 

After that break we pressed on. We first followed the footprints up the Hogsback a little bit until we realized that it was head to the Pearly Gates which from what I read on other reports was not a good way to go this year. I though that the footprints were going to cut over the Old Chute from a report I read earlier this year on SP but they were not (PS the bergshrund is not even close to being open yet)! So when I recognized this I decided to head down and cut over to a lighter used path to the crater and head the chute. By this time this 4:00 and the sky was beginning to brighten up.

 

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The conditions in the Old Chute had formed perfectly though. The was firm foot of snow and the steps up were absolutely perfect. In fact I saw glissade shoots in the Hogsback. Under normal conditions I would have thought these people were on something but the snow was such that if you fell you WERE NOT GOING ANYWHERE! Instead at 600 feet of terrific snow climbing which those who know me know that I thrive on a good snow climb. I felt as if I was in heaven going up the Old Chute. Even with the great conditions, going up 40-45 degrees of snow still is tiring at 11,000 feet when you spend most of your time near sea level. I took lead here and headed up the chute. On the way up I notice to the right a slightly steeper shoot that was well worn that to the right the made route of the Old Chute. I cut up there and when I topped out on it I realized that the route I did actually avoided the knife edge that I crossed the last time. I waited for my teammates on the of the chute as they climbed up the steep chute one by one I watched them come through as the sun rose behind me.

 

Once passed the chute it was only another five to ten minutes to the summit of Mount Hood. Once on the gem we all took or time to remember those who passed away and thank the mountain for giving us the chance to enjoy the beauty of it. We were only the second group of people that day to make it that day and we had the summit to ourselves for ten minutes. For me it wasn’t so much a celebration but a time to pay my respects. I had already summited Mount Hood last year, but was happy for the others in the group. It was their first time and they had a perfectly clear day to enjoy this beauty. The sun was also keeping us warmer those we didn’t need to rush off too quickly yet. But after thirty minutes when we noticed the crowds starting to come in we knew it was time to go. Besides the snow was going to soften up more and the avalanche danger was going to begin rising by the hour.

 

We decided to descent the same way we came up. We down climbed through the chute. On the way down my crampon slipped off my right foot. Luckily it was still tied on so I had another in my crew connect back onto my foot. It is never fun having your crampons slide off when you are in the crux but at least the snow was in good condition. After that little bit of excitement it was a smooth trip back to the Hogsback. We made a quick dash past the Hogsback and head down the mountain. I realized I left my Wal-Mart trekking pole at the Hogsback unfortunately. It is blue and a little bent. If you find it, it is yours to keep. Once on the lower slopes we did a number of icy glissades down roughly 1000 feet to the base of Palmer lift. And just cruised back from there. We made it back by 9:30 am and soon we were on our way back.

 

 

 

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Nice report Eastking! I wish I could have been there, it was good of you to have a tribute to the tragedy that happened last December. I hope to climb this mountain one of these days.

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Nice writeup! I've wanted to get back up there again real bad and still hope to this year; Adams too. I recently read a report that the right variation of the Gates were super easy right now and I'd like to look at it if nothing else in the coming weeks.

 

You say you climbed on the 9th, if that is so then you may enjoy looking at this image: http://www.summitpost.org/image/622856/150189/crater-rock-fumaroles.html. I shot that photo after a long night at the beach and immediately upon seeing the mountain that morning had thought of who may have been climbing. I guess it was you.

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That was a great photo. It is strange that I think I actually have a photo in the Old Chute at the very same time you shot that photo. I will post it tomorrow when I find it.

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Nice report. That chute to the right is a good way to avoid exposure of the ridge, but it does have it's share of rock and ice coming down. The last time I did this route we went up the old chute and over the summit ridge and down the chute to the right. Very steep in the chute. When we got down to the hot rocks a couple of washer/dryer size chunks of ice came down through the chute we were in. Needless to say, we just kind of laughed and decended. But it was kind of a close call. Another couple of min. on the summit and we would probably been toast....

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