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[TR] Mt. Hood - South Slope via WCR (Western Crater Rim) variation 8/28/2011

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Trip: Mt. Hood - South Slope via WCR (Western Crater Rim) variation

 

Date: 8/28/2011

 

Trip Report:

Wanting, NEEDING to get up something, anything, before the summer let out, we shot for a south-side summit on Hood. Work was hectic, schedules hard to align.. we had a small available window, and beautiful weather. I'd been hearing the WCR was actually a decently exciting route late in the season, and we could get it done in a day... so there it was.

 

Leaving the parking lot at 10:30 the night before, we began up the dirt switchbacks under the magic mile... why didn't we take the easier (for the time of year) climber's trail? Because we didn't see it, of course. It was dark, and none of us had climbed Hood before.

 

After forever of dirty ass switchbacks and pitch-black clear sky (new moon... go figure), we finally got on the glacier above the palmer lift, roped up for GP, and b-lined it for the summit. Somewhere along the line it went from 60 degrees and calm to a blasting wind crashing down the palmer glacier, which was a little chilling... but overall, the weather was very pleasant.

 

We sllllooooowwwwwllllllyyyyyy made our way up toward the crater, had a couple small arguments about the route (standing at the top of the glacier cliff on the south end of the Triangle Morane)... it was so damn dark, I was leading by compass alone. Dan was concerned that the route was "out" when we walked up on the moraine, but I was still very confident that we just needed to scramble up 10' of dirt and continue up into the crater. Still hoping for a shot at the Hogsback, we were aiming for a right-side approach into the crater.

 

Sure enough, I scrambled 10' up scree and could see the route quite easily up to crater rock. We dirt climbed the rest of the way to the glacier (can never remember what it's called) to the right of crater rock, got back on snow, and continued to Devil's Kitchen.

 

At this point, it became obvious to me that my partners were pooped. The rope had been tight between me and Dan for some time before I called a break. I could tell they were about to mutiny on me, so to forestall the inevitable, I suggested we take a break, eat some fude, drink some water, and rest a bit before continuing up to the Hogsback. The skies began to light up as we munched breakfast and shot the shit... then the conversation turned toward the rest of the climb. The lamest part is over! Suck it up! Get on your feet, quit your bitching, and get up that fucking headwall! I did not speak these phrases, of course, hoping to woo them into it... but finally, Bobby spoke up first:

 

"Dawg, I'm fuckin' done. I can't climb anymore."

I looked over at Dan, my last hope.... "Yea, man.. I think I'm with Bobby."

 

Awesome. What a fuckin waste. But Bobby wasn't a climber, and Dan was very new to volcano climbing... I couldn't hold it against them too much. I just said something to the effect of, "shut up, eat your food, take a nap... rest, then we'll decide for sure. OK?"

 

(Pooped)

dannbobby.jpg

 

We sat for a while, the mood didn't improve. But then.... then.... something magical happened. Just as I was about to start hating these two guys, I hear the sound of boots trudging snow. I whip my head around, and what do I see? I see a blonde-haired, pony-tailed kid wearing a spandex tanktop, spandex shorts, wearing hiking boots and a Jansport bookbag with two pilfered bamboo boundary poles as trekking poles. He looked up, saw us, got an excited expression on his face and bounded up to where we sat.

 

"Allo! Allo! Do you summit??" he asked enthusiastically with a very stereotypically german accent, and beginning to shiver upon stopping.

 

I glanced at my pooped out partners, and replied, "On our way up, you going to the top?"

 

"Ya! Vell, I vanted to, but I thought maybe I had small chanze to summit, for I haf no gear. Zat is vhy I vas so happy to see your tracers in ze znow! Can I climb vis you??"

 

(Toby up on the Hogsback by Crater Rock- after finally putting on a shirt)

toby1.jpg

 

So we headed back up the rest of the foot trail to the saddle on the Hogsback to check out our options. Bobby mustered the strength to head up the Hogsback to a very wide Bergshrund to check out the chutes- all of which were dirt/rock, and very steep. Fuck that... the WCR headwall was also very steep, but fully snow. Rockfall was definitely an issue: golfball- and baseball-sized rocks were zinging down every few minutes, and the left and right sides were deeply runneled from larger rocks.

 

(Bowberry [bobby] recceing the route)

bobbyrecon.jpg

 

We quickly estimated the headwall to be 45-50 more than halfway up, angling up to closer to 60-65 for about two pitches above. We could loan Tobias a harness, helmet, and ice tool, but his hiking boots wouldn't take crampons... but he was willing to just hold on tight and follow in my footsteps up.

 

Le Route

route9.jpg

 

So I dropped ruck, backpacked the rope, and headed up. We only had one picket, and the snow was nice and hard- my cyborg front points sunk in and stuck well, so we didn't bother with a belay. In the end, kicking in steps for Toby was a pretty tiring process, and in hindsight, I should have insisted on leading up, anchoring, and having him jug to my position. Would have taken longer, but I would have had a lot more fun- my points held me fine, and kicking those steps in through that hard, hard alpine ice was incredibly draining. He wanted me to switch back a time or two, but I was starting to get extremely agitated with the extra exertion, and finally just B-lined it for the crater rim for the last pitch, following a long vertical rock band that seemed to have decent enough holds. Toby struggled to get up that last pitch, but he made it, with smile (youthful strength and exuberance... miss those days). Straddling the knife-edge ridge, his victorious grin was worth all the step-kicking I had to do for him. I was glad he was there.

 

straddle.jpg

 

And then it was just the nice 50m or so hike over to the summit... nothin to it, dawg.

 

tobyheadstand.jpgbensummit.jpggps.jpg

 

I was pretty pooped, and concerned that Daniel and Bowberry might be getting impatient and do something stupid, we didn't hang out long. I wandered around a bit snapping pictures of all the late-August fires blooming all around the MHNF.. took some perspective pics for the non-climbers in my life, and Toby and I had a conversation about how to get back down. I would have been perfectly comfortable just down-climbing, but Toby's footwear was a concern... he didn't want to slide and die, and I was really growing fond of him and didn't want him to slide and die either, so we opted for a multi-pitch rap back down. We used boulders for the first couple anchors, then snow-bollards for the next 2 or 3 raps. In all, we rapped 5 or 6 rap pitches, and by the time we got to the where it bent back to closer to 45 degrees, and sun had softened the snow well enough that we coiled up the rope and just half-trudge-half-foot glissaded back down.

 

Toby starting the first rap pitch

tobyrapping.jpg

 

Me at the bottom of the last rap.

merapping.jpg

 

 

Who says you can't climb Hood in late August?

 

Gear Notes:

For our super late season climb- pons and tools a must... I stuck well, but a running belay wouldn't be ridiculous if you have the protection available. If not, just make sure you get back down before noonish, or the snow will be pretty fragile.

 

Approach Notes:

Take the climbers trail in no-snow conditions- much more direct route.

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Pretty humorous, though you might want to take an inclinometer with you as I doubt you would have been kicking steps in "hard alpine ice" on 60-65 degree slopes and if so ole Toby would have been hanging on the rope for all it was worth. From your pictures and description you were on the Old Chute and IIRC the slope going up it are at best 45-50 degrees with firm neve. The West Crater Rim starts further to the west on the other side of Crater Rock. That said when ya got back to T-line hopefully Toby bought ya a beer and sausage for getting him up there.

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these are the numbers we went with, but like i said- it was a shot estimation from Hot Rocks, and once on it, we weren't busting out inclinometers. but i can tell you that the upper pitches were steep- steep enough that our first couple raps down where mostly hanging on the rope.

 

as to what i'm calling "hard alpine ice," you're right- more accurate would be "hard ice crusted hard ass snow." but that's what spilled forth from mine fingers while typing this old TR out in one swoop yesterday.

 

 

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