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[TR] Mount Hood - Pearly Gates up, Mazama Chute down 2/3/2012

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Trip: Mount Hood - Pearly Gates up, Mazama Chute down


Date: 2/3/2012


Trip Report:

I figured an update on South Side conditions is in order, so I'll bust out a quickish TR for today's Pearly send. The only pics we took were a couple summit pics and a crappy self-portrait with the HB in the background, unfortunately.. but I'll be descriptive.


My DKH partner bailing on me on approach, I ended up doing Pearly Gates with a member here, a young, eager, inexperienced guy I've been talking to off-and-on about getting up Hood. He'd asked to join us into the crater, then split up, and wanted to attempt Pearly Gates alone. I'd originally talked to him about DKH also, but he wasn't equipped for the route at all- using my loaner Mont Blanc Compacts with shitty home-made leashes, flexible leather boots with 10-point contact straps.. perfectly adequate for most south-side routes, but no bueno for DKH.


So my DKH partner loaned him a harness and a carabiner, and I figured I'd give him a belay up the step in Pearly Right Chute.


Moving up the mountain, the forecast 5mph wind for early Friday morning didn't come till right before dawn, so we fought sustained 35mph from the NORTH with gusts to 55+ all the way up, basically. Snow was good, however, being most neve with a few soft spots here and there above 8,500. Cautious of wind-slabs from the wind direction change, we picked our route carefully up the side of Crater Rock, rather than the more typical wrap around toward Devil's kitchen. So we topped out right on the Hogsback, rather than having to climb it.


Self-portrait ended up being the only beta shot I took the whole climb... no Bergschrund.



The Hogsback is big and steep, with tons more snow on it than 3 weeks ago (surprise surprise), and the Bergschrund, which was wide open 3 weeks ago, is now completely filled in, with nothing more than a broad shallow depression to give it away. We slid around the far-middle right side of the 'schrund, and took a diagonal line across a patch of styrofoam into the bottom of the main couloir. The snow above here seemed extremely loaded, and spin-drift was still pouring all over it from the summit ridge above, so I was pretty sure it was pretty recent transplant.


Shooting up the main couloir at 45-50* of mostly styro with some patches of soft pow, we veered right and took the lesser of the two steps. It's less steep and not as long as it has been so far this year... estimating, from recollection, maximum 70* good ice for 6-8 feet, easing up to maybe 45* good ice for another 8ish feet, to the finish above, which is like 35* good ice. I soloed up with the rope, set anchor, and brought my partner up. The landing directly above the step is basically straight up hard ass snice that will not accept a picket.. I only had one screw, a POS titanium "bail screw" I generally keep with me, two pickets, two slings, and two tools... I was able to get it bomber enough, but a better anchor would have been all screws. The "bail" screw coffee grinder handle burned out before the screw was fully embedded, so I decided to leave it for the next guy, or as a nice semi-permanent last-clip for a leader. If you want it, feel free to try to pry it out. I left the carabiner on it and everything.


The snow slope above the step was very steep, and a mix of unconsolidated powder and ice chunks for about the first 50', then just becomes rime crop and neve to the summit plateau.


After screwing around on a very windy summit taking a couple pics and eating, we discussed our line of retreat... we could rap off that bail screw still above the step, or we could just heal plunge down the Mazama Chute. I personally thought down-climbing a steep snowfield would be funner (faster and less messy) and a better experience for young Nicholas, so we took that route.


The Chute was a thin, not-difficult ice step at the top that we faced-in to down-climb comfortably, to fairly loose snow for another 100-200' down to the main snow-field, which was basically kick-ass styrofoam all the way down to Hot Rocks. Be careful of all the little wind-slabs- the whole thing is basically just layered wind-slab, but seems to be solid and stable.. at least before the sun cooks it.


Gear Notes:

Pickets are worthless for belay anchor above the step, and not really needed elsewhere, unless you want to do a running belay across the field from the 'schrund to the couloir. 10-16cm screws for protection on lead, if desired (not needed, for anyone halfway experience with ice climbing) and for belay anchor above.


Approach Notes:

Gonna be re-freeze solid conditions through the weekend, at least. GET UP THERE!

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What do you mean by summit ridge? From Pearly, we went straight to the actual summit plateau, bypassing the south ridge.. on descent, we crossed the ridge that connects the summit plateau to the west crater rim- was plenty wide and level, as usual. The knife-edge that connects Old Chute to the main ridge was beyond our path, but didn't look too bad. Knife-edgy, but needing sharpening.

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First technical summit thanks to some excellent guide work by Ben! Woot!


Good job to you up there, Nick. I hadn't talked to either of you guys, so I didn't include names in the TR.


Obviously Nicholas was my Pearly partner. He's a good guy with a great attitude and ERW sense of adventure. Partner up with him with confidence.


Make sure he's got a helmet, though... he'll try to sneak that one past you.

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hey Ben and Nick, it was nice to meet you guys up on the hogsback last week. I took some more photos from that day.















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Thanks, JR.. I soloed it again on Tuesday. The step got big and steep again between Friday and Tuesday! I'd say it was almost 20' averaging 65* and curving down to 55* at the top. My ice screw was still there, carabiner and all... I rapped off it on descent- first time I'd ever descended the Pearly Gates, having always opted for the Mazama or Old Chutes for descent.



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That's a nice photo! And dang you've been up there a few times this year.... Wish I lived closer to Hood

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Funny how things change - when I first began climbing Hood, the Pearly Gates were easiest way up AND down the south side. Not so much today.





Edited by SMU

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