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Dave3442

[TR] Mt. Hood - Leutholds Couloir 5/15/2010

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Trip: Mt. Hood - Leutholds Couloir

 

Date: 5/15/2010

 

Trip Report:

CLIMBERS: Dave S., Tim C., Kevin R., Dave L.

 

Kevin and Dave S were at the climbers cave when Tim and I arrived.Dave told us that he ran into some of his friends who are involved with Portland Mountain Rescue (Dave is a member). Surprisingly, when Dave told them that he was climbing with three non-PMR folks, they gave him the cold shoulder. Portland Mountain Rescue must be a much different organization to our volunteer rescue organizations here in New England. We don’t discriminate and welcome climbers and hikers of all abilities. Oh well, as my friend, Andy Wyatt, says, “If that’s the worst thing that happens today, we’re doing alright.”

 

When we got on the trail at 2AM, there was a string of lights heading up the Southside Route. We made our way to the Miracle Mile ski lift for a better approach to the Illumination Saddle. We had three hours or so of hiking to get to the saddle. The hike up to the saddle was eventless with the exception of Tim dropping on of his water bottles. As expected, the instant it hit the snow it took off like a rocket. Kevin and I were a few hundred feet below Tim and Dave S and tried to catch it. Unfortunately, it was too far out and moving too fast for us to intercept it. We’d have to make due with one less liter of water. As my friend, Andy Wyatt, says…

 

We made it to the top of Illumination Saddle at about 5AM. There, we donned a shell, hat, gloves, and crampons. The cold set in quickly and I’m fairly certain that I caught a bit of frostbite on my fingers. If complete numbness…COMPLETE NUMBNESS…is an indicator, I’d say I had initial stages. I opened up some chemical hand warmers and within 20 minutes, I was fine again. In later conversations with Tim, he experienced the same issues. It’s rare when you get both sun burn and frostbite in the same day.

 

In order to get to Leuthold’s Couloir, we had to down-climb 100 feet or so and cross the Reid Glacier. The crevasses on the Reid had not opened up yet and the bergshrund at the start of the couloir was the only one I saw visible. We decided to not rope up on the traverse and crossing the Reid was not as easy as I anticipated. The snow was soft and we post-holed often. The traverse could not have been more than 1/3 of a mile, but it took us a full hour to make it to the base of the couloir. There was evidence of recent avalanche activity but the releases were small. I saw one slab release and two point releases. The debris field was like concrete and made me a little anxious thinking what might happen if our route avalanched while we were on it. Happy thoughts…

 

We made it to the bottom of the couloir by 6AM and started climbing immediately. Surprisingly, Tim started out very strong and led the way up the couloir. The hourglass section was 1000 vertical feet above us and it was our first goal point on the now technical climb. We decided not to rope up on the couloir just as we did crossing the glacier. The route was not that steep, relatively speaking, and the snow consistency was solid enough to offer some confidence while ascending free-solo. The climb was now in full swing and we had to find a rhythm that worked for us as individuals. Periodically, we were hit with some falling rime ice but we did not encounter any rock fall on the route.

 

We made our way up through the hourglass in less than an hour. Tim and Dave were climbing quickly and it was rare to catch a view of them as they ascended. I’ve climbed a few peaks with Tim before and I’ve never seen him climb with this strength and enthusiasm. I should have given him more gear to carry. At this point, it was clear that we were separated into two smaller groups: Dave S and Tim up front and Kevin and I in the back. Kevin was the slowest climber on the Team and I had to wait for him periodically so that he did not climb alone. I can not complain about that; it offered me more opportunities to rest. My only concern with splitting up the team was if we had an emergency. We decided to bring only one rope with us instead of two and Tim was carrying it. If Kevin or I needed help, we would have been in a bad place.

 

At the top of the couloir, the views to the north were spectacular. In view were St. Helens, Rainier, and Adams. All three volcanoes were clear and standing there in all their glory. Even after losing her top in 1980, St. Helens is still a magnificent mountain to see. At this point, the summit was only 400 vertical feet higher. We had a small bulge to ascend, then across the crater rim to the summit. The total time from the bottom of the couloir to the top was about 1-¾ hours.

 

The crater rim was a precipitous trek. To the north, there is a big drop off to the Eliot and Coe glaciers and the wall appears vertical. To the south, there is a 500-1000 foot drop to the Zigzag glacier but the drop off is a shallower angle than “vertical”. The width of the rim is 15 feet or so at the start, but narrows down to as small as 2 feet at “the fin”. I have to admit, although I don’t mind clinging to a frozen waterfall a couple hundred feet off the deck, crossing the fin gave me an instant case of vertigo. I do have a fear of heights and that’s a good fear to have in this game. Tim and Dave, on the other hand, found the crossing so much fun, they did it 4 times. The second set was to get some pictures while they were crossing it. I was happy getting across the second time and keeping my role as cameraman.

 

We found ourselves on the true summit of Hood at 8AM. It was six hours, on the dot, from trailhead to summit. While there, we took the traditional round of photos, helped another climber get some summit shots, and had the new inductees into the Adventure Flasking Society drink from the flask. Whiskey is much better after a long and arduous climb. The AFS welcomes both Dave and Kevin as our West Coast Chapter.

 

After crossing the fin for the last time, Dave put on his skis and prepared for a descent from the crater rim. Kevin hiked down 1000 feet or so before putting on his skis. Looking down the route, I had visibility for the first 20 yards or so then the aspect became steeper and it appeared to drop off into nothingness. Since I had not had an opportunity to scout the route prior to our descent, I would have been nervous if I had to ski off as Dave did. After down-climbing those 20 yards I was able to check the aspect and now feel that I could have skied off successfully from the summit. The pitch was less than Tuckerman’s Ravine on Mt. Washington, but the elevation change was greater.

 

As Tim and I descended the Southside Route, we encountered a number of guided rope teams making their way up the slope. It was nice to not be tied to a rope team…especially on that route. It’s shallow enough to ski and I certainly would not want to be roped up on it. We eventually made our way to the Hogback and settled down for some lunch. This was our first extended break since leaving Timberline at 2AM. It was now about 9AM and food was in order. The rest of the hike down was eventless and it too another 2 hours to get to the parking lot. In all, we ended up back in Government Camp at noon. The total trail time was just under 10 hours. It was a superb climb that tops my list from an overall experience standpoint.

 

 

Gear Notes:

- 44M of 9.2 dynamic. Had it, but didn't use it

- One technical tool and one general axe. Only the axe was needed

- Helmets a must on the route

- Eyewear helpful as protection

- Ice screws would have been useless if we needed pro

- Full avi gear required (beacon, probe, shovel)

- Chemical warmers were greatly appreciated!

 

Approach Notes:

Slow and steady under the ski lift. We post-holed a fair amount approaching the route and while on the route.

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I think I was the guy you helped share photo opp's about 8:15. Good Job on Leutholds! It must have gotten cold for a spell that night because I had a similiar near frostbite spell at the top of the Palmer on the way up. Waited too long to switch to my good gloves and man did I have some burning in my fingers for a few minutes. Fun day on the mountain. :)

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In my PMR friends' defense, it was later determined that they were late trying to catch a snow cat, so no "cold shoulder" was intended.

Great day on the mountain!

- Dave S

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In my PMR friends' defense, it was later determined that they were late trying to catch a snow cat..

PMR takes the snow cat during recreational climbs?!? :lmao:

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Awesome. Way to get'er done. I was going to do Leuthold's three days before, but ended up by myself so just took the dog route to the top.

It's still a route I want to knock off.

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In my PMR friends' defense, it was later determined that they were late trying to catch a snow cat..

PMR takes the snow cat during recreational climbs?!? :lmao:

 

I needed a good laugh!!!!

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Yes, the photos you took of me turned out very nice. Thanks!

 

Hey Josh, no pic's of them but here's a picture Dave took of me. I saw them. They were there!

 

Hood_Summit_051510.jpg

Edited by PaulO

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Portland Mountain Rescue utilizes snowcat transportation while on missions when they are available and when it is appropriate. The climbers who you saw, while maybe members of PMR, were on a recreational climb, unaffiliated with any official PMR activities. Any person who so desires may hire a snowcat from Timberline for whatever fee they charge. PMR members are expected to maintain a high standard of physical fitness, climbing skills, and knowledge of route and conditions.

 

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Sorry for adding anything about PMR. I'm sure they are a fine bunch given Dave's affiliation. My bad.

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Portland Mountain Rescue utilizes snowcat transportation while on missions when they are available and when it is appropriate. The climbers who you saw, while maybe members of PMR, were on a recreational climb, unaffiliated with any official PMR activities. Any person who so desires may hire a snowcat from Timberline for whatever fee they charge. PMR members are expected to maintain a high standard of physical fitness, climbing skills, and knowledge of route and conditions.

i wuz jes pokin fun and tryin to make meself laugh, prussik - no ill feelings toward PMR or anyone affiliated with them. :) i am well aware of the taxi that will take you up to the top of palmer for a fee, though i have never taken advantage of it meself :)

 

Sorry for adding anything about PMR. I'm sure they are a fine bunch given Dave's affiliation. My bad.

don't be sorry... its nothing bad. The PMR boys are the finest people for what they do :tup::)

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