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KirkW

Mt Hood

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The best decisions about snow safety happen at the kitchen table, not in the field. You look at telemetry, you look at the forecast, you compare those to the topo of your route, and you say, "yes, these things will bring a likelihood of stability," or "no, these ingredients bake death."

 

THEN, after that screening process is over, and a good decision has been made to go out... now, out in the field, you continue to assess and monitor. If the field is as you predicted, based on good judgement at the kitchen table, you continue up.. but if you find anything that runs contrary to that, you bail or change plans appropriately.

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Ben's point is really good--the decisions you make before you even go have a much bigger effect than a lot of in the field choices. Things are rarely a clear yes/no though. An unexpected slip or such somewhere sketchy is unfortunate and may not be able to be anticipated at all.. But climbing alone, as a weather window closes (or never really opened up), without a being able to keep yourself warm, or quickly alert help, etc,..those are all decisions you can make before you leave the house. I know you asked about snow safety but this is applicable to all climbing decisions.

 

Regarding the mountain proper and snow, almost all the moisture that makes snow on the mountain comes from the West (or SW/NW), this generally means a W wind and loading on East facing slopes (West Crater Rim, standard route east side of Crater Rock, WyEast, Cooper Spur.. among places). That said when it gets sunny and cold right after (as it is looking to do now) and there are very strong East winds, you can get the freshly wind loaded stuff blowing right back onto the wind compacted West faces.

 

One other factor is this latest bit at least at 6k started falling while it was ~15 (lighter drier snow) degrees out and finished when it was ~30 (wetter heavier snow). This is a little upside down, you rather see the big wet stuff fall first and bond with the existing base and the lighter stuff come at the end as the storm tapers off--as a general trend.

 

So to answer your question, SS is probably one of the better winter options--though again the route absolutely gets wind loaded in the lee of Crater Rock.

 

If you're looking to get out this weekend gander at Helens--south side and you can avoid a lot of terrain traps staying on ridgelines. And compared to hood, it's been basking in the sun all day today--and tomorrow--and will be on sunday too--a bit more time for things to settle.

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Since the discussion about snow conditions is being had, I thought I'd share some beta from the slopes....

 

I was on Cooper's Spur 11/15 and South side 11/16, it was still quite cold but sunny and calm. With the high pressure, calm air, and sun that came through that weekend following the storm, things were nice and stable (sun after a storm tends to help bond the new layers to the old). Saturday things were a bit windblown and icy on the spur, but definitely good climbing if you had two axes. We skinned to about tie-in rock before switching to crampons for a bit, but turned around below the chimney as my buddies legs were going. Riding down was good below tie-in rock, just had to look out for rocks still peeking through the snow.

 

Sunday it warmed up some more. We drove around to Timberline and skinned up to crater rock, I ran up to the hogsback to have a looksy into the crater bowl. With the sun and warming weather saturday and sunday things softened up for sure. The crater was definitely in prime condition by the end of the day, great for climbing (though you probably want two axes/tools still) and good for skiing down as long as you avoid those pesky rocks still peeking out on the lower slopes.

 

It's obviously changed a lot since 11/16 with all that snow that's been coming down, but things were nicely bonded 1.5 weeks ago.

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I went up the South Side this past Tuesday (1/20) and the conditions were perfect. I skinned up about a half mile past palmer and and then went out on foot from there. There was too much icy snow for the skis to get up any further and I didn't have a crampon attachment. I ended up going through the Pearly Gates and coming down the Old Chute. There was some cornice build up near the catwalk so that was kind of sketchy. Everything seems to be a little steeper than normal but i'm guessing that because of the low snowfall?

 

This is what the Pearly Gates looked liked:

IMG_00673.jpg

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bumpity bump bump.. Saw some folks heading Luetholds way last Sunday (1/25/15).. might have been too warm to execute but curious if anyone has been off that way in the last week or two or three.

 

eternal debate in my head of full glacier accouterments for travesing 1500ft (or whatever) of upper reid. Well, the debate is yes, bring it.. but I hate having pickets, rope, and shiz for the other 90% of the route which doesn't require it.

 

 

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Getting into the training part of the year, and I'm looking to tag the summit of Hood for my first volcano this June. The question I have is this: what routes offer fairly low difficulty, but fewer crowds, and would (probably) be in shape in the first week or so of June? Other than reading trip reports, what kinds of weather clues should I be looking for before I decide between climbing the thing and drinking beer at a hipster bar in Portland?

My partner and I have done some couloir climbing at similar altitude to Hood, but in Colorado, so they're much smaller undertakings. Obviously, we're getting out and practicing, spending a lot of time the stairmaster, etc. I'm also gonna be brushing up my skills in the Sawtooths throughout May, and he'll do the same in Colorado, so we should be in good shape, but the scale of the climb is a bit outside of our experience.

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the easy routes on hood are the standard south side and the more adventerous luetholds coulior, then the n side routes of the cooper spur and the sunshine route - the n side has longer approaches in june and greater objective danger (exposure on cooper spur, crevasses on the sunshine) - i've never experienced either n side route w/ any company, but any south side route will have company (usually only a few parties on luetholds, but potentially hundreds on the standard s side)

 

easy routes require little more than a decent set of lungs, the right gear, and a stomach for exposure as you near the top

 

weather in june is usually very stable and good - you'll likely want a midnightish start as it gets warm quickly and the cliffs start shitting on you :)

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Thanks! We were thinking Leutholds looked good, but I've heard rumbles that it can be dependent on the preceding winter's weather. Needless to say, considering how dry e.g. Mt. Bachelor has been to this point, it was a valid concern.

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Has anyone been on Luetholds in the last month?

 

petsfed: go up the south climb. it is busy, you compromise on that point. But it is easy and hopefully be in shape..assuming we get more snow. I would not touch lueth in june. Unless Ivan's TR called to you, then I would touch it a lot.

 

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Haven't been up Luetholds, but we went up the Reid last Wed, so 1/21. We ran into some unconsolidated snow getting up to the 'shrund making for fairly slow going and an interesting crossing. Above the 'shrund the conditions improved. We had everything from styrofoam snow to alpine ice. For a sunny day it wasn't spitting too much off from the upper sections either.

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I took a rock climbing friend up Hood yesterday (3/1) for his first mountain climb.

 

After hearing some concerns from another pair about wind slab above the hogsback, we decided to try for the pearly gates with some pro. The schrund had a nice bridge. He belayed me up to the entrance to the gates, but the snow turned out to be totally stable. We solo'd through the gates which had a short "ice step" and then were home free to the summit. We came down the old chute. Conditions were great, and we saw a number of parties coming up the old chute and lots of skiers on the palmer as we were heading down.

 

gear notes:

2 pickets (not necessary), 40M rope, an axe and 2nd tool each

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Saw a couple of climbers attempt the NF yesterday as I skied in the sun below them on the spur. They were moving way to slow and made the smart decision to turn around. However, the route looks to be in great shape. No need for flotation, and could wear running shoes all the way to the tilly jane.

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Powderhoud,

 

How was the skiing over there on the spur? Is it corning up nicely? Considering a trip around to the darkside on sunday.

 

-Bluto

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been pretty much nothing but clear skies for weeks, hard to imagine it's much beyond survival skiing up there, but then i regard you people as an exotic form of plankton :)

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asinine! bring skis! it's going to be firm early and get beautiful later (around noon-1pm).

 

hell, it might be spectacular above 8500 (top of palmer) based on the fresh snow that fell higher up [powder?](hopefully)...I didn't follow on account of knowing the weekend would be lousy/booked with wife for her bday. it would have to be really utter crap for me to suggest boots over skis, and that has not been the case for weeks. it's been serviceable to great for over a month.

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I didn't go.... I wanted to take a nap on the summit, build up some RBCs, and just didn't like the idea of doing it in 50mph gusts, as the forecast was suggesting. Will try again Monday... even after 10-12" of fresh this weekend, there's just nothing up there that can slide with enough mass to ruin your day, barring terrain trappage. NWAC might as well shut down.

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Hi all.

 

Wife and I are getting back into mountaineering after a few years away to finish school. Hoping to do hood next week via hogs back. Been on it before but years ago. At this time we are planning a one day car to car. So looks like we need to get a permit and sounds like self register at timberline lodge. What's the policy about sleeping in your car in the parking lot for a night? Is there a better alternative? Going to be driving over from Spokane.

 

Thanks.

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I think I heard someone say they're asking people not to sleep in their cars in the parking lot?

 

I have plenty times, and I would again with no reservation, regardless of this. Just park over in the gravel overflow lot if you're paranoid about it - it's usually quieter over there anyway. Unless bubba comes and tries to drive his un-muffled injin truck up onto the snow at 2 in the fuckin mornin.

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Spaces available with us in the snow cat from Timberline lodge may 28. 3 am departure. Let's us off at the top of Palmer lift.

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eternal debate in my head of full glacier accouterments for travesing 1500ft (or whatever) of upper reid. Well, the debate is yes, bring it.. but I hate having pickets, rope, and shiz for the other 90% of the route which doesn't require it.

 

Just noticed this because of the thread bump about cats...

 

Climbed Reid Headwall with a team of 3 on March 7. We roped up to cross the upper Reid and get on the route. Middle guy busted through and fell in to his arm pits. Without the rope on he would have corked. Not super deep but it wouldn't have been a good situation. Snowpack was thin this year, and we knew we were on some bridges. If our plan had been to leave the shizz at home I don't know if we would have turned around first or not. Once we crossed the bergie we put it all away...

 

Had another buddy drop in one late season on Jefferson. They were unroped and didn't think they were in an area of crevasses. Didn't see any signs. Figured they'd all be open by then. All's well that ends well, but it is long odds paying off when you're the one carrying the rope and your partners still manage to extract and load you into a helo within a couple hours.

 

I have crossed the Reid and the White River without even pausing to consider roping up in the winter. Maybe it made sense then and maybe it still does now, but my thinking has changed.

 

Just throwing out a data point for mutual edification since we're probably not the only two that roll this one around.

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