Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
B Deleted_Beck

[TR] Mount Hood - North Face - Right Gully - Solo 6/3/2012

Recommended Posts

Trip: Mount Hood - North Face - Right Gully - Solo

 

Date: 6/3/2012

 

Trip Report:

Yes, another North Face trip report. Nothing special, this season, I know... but despite all the activity this route has been getting of late, it was still a very cool and important climb for me.. so I'm gonna post mine anyway. And in typical verbose Ben B. style...

 

---

 

I'd wanted to climb this route basically all year. I'd talked to a few people about it, posted in a partners' section, even had it tentatively scheduled with a couple of people, but nothing ever panned out. Once again, I realized, if I wanted to climb it, I was probably gonna have to get it done alone.

 

I'd originally wanted to round the mountain from the south side, as it saves over 2,000' of gain and several miles of approach from the north side, this time of year. But this would necessitate traversing the Newton-Clark, and once spring came into full swing, things started opening up and getting thinly covered up- scratch that, for a solo trip. I'd just have to suck it up and come up through Tilly Jane.

 

A friend and frequent climbing partner, Ian, called me a few days before, looking to climb something that weekend. He wasn't looking to do anything that grueling, but I invited him to join me to "base camp" at 9,000'.

 

Beginnings

100_3635.JPG

Coming up the Coopspur trail from TJ

100_3638.JPG

We took only 1 litre each up, to save weight... Didn't last long! Somewhere above the tree line, on the spur..

100_3646.JPG

 

We arrived at the TJ trailhead at about 15:00 on Saturday, expecting forecast windy/gusty conditions, poor visibility, cold, and precipitation. Packed and moving up the trail by 15:30, we maintained a healthy, moderate pace up to Tilly Jane, paused to melt some water on the snowfield next to the spur, and were comfortably bundled up and enjoying dinner in our tent by sometime before 21:00.

 

The weather was bizarre. Clouds would roll in and out as fast as you could watch them, and we'd get hit by the occasional STRONG gust, but it was otherwise completely calm. By midnight, even the occasional strong gusts (and I mean junk-in-your-throat strong) pretty much died off, and we were able to sleep pretty soundly.

 

My Suunto went off at 4:15... I reset it for 4:30. I reset it for 4:45. I reset it for 5:00. Finally, I just shut it off. Packed and ready to go, I gave my basecamp support officer one last grin, and was moving up the mountain at 5:55. Despite roiling clouds coating all sides of the mountain but ours, I set out under high steel skies, NO wind, perfect visibility, very moderate temp somewhere between 20-25f, and absolutely perfectly hard snow. How could this get any better?

 

Heading out... Goodbye, Warm and Comfort.

100_3658.JPG

 

Already at 9,000-9,100' or so, my plan had been to attempt to slide down a 200' snow ramp leading from the last saddle on the spur down to the Eliot Glacier, and follow the normal line up the Right Gully from there. But conditions had changed drastically since I'd made this plan, and I was now faced with a very crevassy glacier, a big bergschrund between me and my snow ramp, and then a DOUBLE 'schrund between the main glacier and the entrance to the gullies. Screw it... I'll just side-hill over to them, above the cliffs.

 

I'd also noted, just before I left camp, what appeared to be a ski-mountaineer heading up toward Eliot Glacier Headwall. But seeing the skies strapped to his back, I pretty much just discounted him and gave it no further thought (those guys usually just hike up the hill a bit and ski back down).

 

The traverse...

100_3664.JPG

Got pretty steep in some spots- good thing the snow was frozen

100_3671.JPG

 

The side-hilling got old pretty quick, but in high-dagger, I was across and looking up the LEFT gully within 20 minutes or so. Coming up and over a rock feature, I was disturbed to see that I was actually about 20' above the first ice-step, and that there was a pretty gnarly rock pile separating me from the Right gully. Really having my heart set on the Right gully, and doing the WHOLE route, I decided to downclimb. Fortunately, the Left Gully's first step is pretty tame- 15' of very moderate ice, and I was back on snow and making my way down and around the little cleaver toward my route.

 

First step during the downclimb (obviously tame enough for me to stop and pull out my camera)

100_3673.JPG

Moat! Lots of rushing water noise, coming from this thing at the bottom of the Left Gully first step...

100_3674.JPG

 

I felt a big smile creep onto my face when I looked up and saw the first step of the Right Gully.. Not the most intimidating piece of alpine landscape, but it was a damn sight better looking than the Left's first step.

 

First step below - It looks like 45 degrees from the pic, but, tame as it was, it was actually 75ish

100_3675.JPG

More representative - Looking back down from the top

100_3676.JPG

 

I made short work of it, and was moving up the 900' or so of field/gully between the steps, on solid snow. I was glad for the hard snow (better than the slush I'd been wallowing in on the last couple climbs), but it quickly began to take a toll on my poor calves... you could kick a step in if you really needed a rest, but it generally took more energy than just slowing down for a minute. Breaks didn't really happen.

 

At one point, I started getting hit by piece of ice. Just little guys, but some of them were straight up zingers.... It seemed like climber debris, and I started to wonder if someone was above me. The snow was too hard and too BLUR to show me any climber tracks, but as I made my way up and over the rise under the second step- sure enough, some dude with skis on his back was slllooowwwlllyyyy soloing up the second step. Wow! Guess I was wrong about him!

 

I stepped out of the fall line and let him finish getting up, sipped some gatorade, took a few pics, and then it was my turn. Approaching the step, I was definitely disappointed. It appeared to be maybe 15-20' of sticky moderate ice. This is the famed second step? WTF. I almost took the snow/rock line that curves up around climber's left, as it genuinely looked funner, but decided the ice step is the route, and I'd come to do the route.

 

Gratuitous self-portrait under the second-step.. yea, it doesn't look like much- but it lies!

100_3684.JPG

 

But after I'd climbed not quite half way up, I realized the mountain had deceived me- this thing was a LOT bigger than it looked, and while good ice, even a bit bulgy at top. Ack!

 

I had to push my comfort zone a bit to finish that guy, but I made it, and it wasn't the hairiest thing I'd ever done... but surprise, surprise! Crux of the route, for sure.

 

Now just another 600' or so of clean point/daggering... up and around rock features, up to and past the Cathedral Spire col, up past rocks that probably have names but remain nameless to me... and then I was in the bowl directly under the summit cornice, and then I was on the top.

 

Snow fields and features above the second step

100_3687.JPG100_3688.JPG100_3690.JPG

 

On top, at last...

100_3692.JPG

 

Man oh man... what a thing, for me. Not for some of you beasts, but for me... big deal. Best climb of my life. Perfect day, perfect conditions, perfect route... I was so happy. I started my alpine climbing less than a year before, and had had to teach myself everything. I'd been forced to solo the technical and committed routes I wanted to climb through the winter season, for lack of partners interested in such routes. And now, through sheer determination, I'd crowned my first year's alpining exploits with the apple of my eye... North Face, Right Gully, and I'd done it alone. Such a wonderful feeling... I love climbing.

 

There were three people on the summit, or rather, off the summit, hiding from the horrible winds ripping up and over from the SW... the mountain herself had shielded me from those winds, for my climb. One of those at the top was the guy that had preceded me- I was excited to meet him, as solo climbs of die Nordwand seem to be rare enough that people who do it should be interested to meet each other (I'd think, anyway), but he was a pretty hardcore dude from Wyoming and our little Hood North Face wasn't much to impress him. He dismissed the route as facile, trying to kill my buzz... so we traded summit pics, and, uncharacteristic of me, I decided to go down pretty quick.

 

I was descending the Cooper Spur, and wanted to get down before it slushed up anyway. I started in piolet canne, basically facing out, but the snow just wasn't plunging enough to do that safely, and opted to just high-dagger myself down through Chimney Rocks. I did opt to descend directly through, rather than to climber's right, so's to scope them out- Hey, man... that's a pretty neat little spot! I'd totally written Cooper Spur off as a lame walkup, but if you caught Chimney Rocks in condition, they'd be a fun little crag session on the way up.

 

Anyway, I "toe-glissaded" most of the way down, slid down some more in self-arrest position, and then walked off the rest, and was back to camp around 9:00. We packed up, took our last pics, and headed down. Back to the car around 13:00, we were off to gorge ourselves and chug coffee.

 

My tent and partner, the little gray blip 2,200' below, to the right of the ridgeline in the saddle below Tie-In Rock (that's Tie-In Rock, right?)

100_3693.JPG

 

 

 

Gear Notes:

I brought a 10cm screw, a couple micronuts, and 30m of 5mm cord, just as backup in case I needed to bail something (my standard solo kit). But as it was, there wasn't anything that couldn't be down-climbed, if you really needed to get down. The second step is NOT safely down-climbable, but you could easily take the alternate snow/rock line to climber's left, coming down.

 

For partners with rope and a desire to belay - I'd take 60m of twin and 2 or 3 pickets for the field between and above the steps, and 3 shorter screws for leading up the steps themselves, and double the rope up for fixed belays. Pickets will make better belay anchors above.

 

Approach Notes:

The trail from the lot to TJ is about as broad and defined as any "trail" I've ever hiked, but the trail from TJ to Coopspur was the exact opposite- know your route, and a GPS will be helpful... 'cause that trail, at least right now, covered in snow, is completely unmarked.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good solo. However, I have got to say honestly, having been there and climbed that ice, on the second step, there is no way its 60' long and there is no way it was overhanging, it was steep say 70 or 75 with bulges. Good job though, I hope you had a good experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Good solo. However, I have got to say honestly, having been there and climbed that ice, on the second step, there is no way its 60' long and there is no way it was overhanging, it was steep say 70 or 75 with bulges. Good job though, I hope you had a good experience.

 

There's no way two climbers' mental inclinometers will ever line up. The route's had no shortage of sends this season, and I'm sure it'll have more yet- let the consensus be the majority opinion.

 

But anyone planning to go up- know that I'm telling you to prepare for 60' of steeper than 75 degrees with a little bit of overhang at the top. If you find I've exaggerated, be relieved at the time.

 

;-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The traversing over the "gnarly rock pile" above the shrund to the base of the gullies is the crux IMO. I cried there before, what a sketch, no matter when it is done. Strong work! :tup:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There's no way two climbers' mental inclinometers will ever line up. The route's had no shortage of sends this season, and I'm sure it'll have more yet- let the consensus be the majority opinion.

 

But anyone planning to go up- know that I'm telling you to prepare for 60' of steeper than 75 degrees with a little bit of overhang at the top. If you find I've exaggerated, be relieved at the time.

 

;-)

 

Nice little outing for a solo. Good on ya! A couple notes for you. IMHO going over to the north side via the Newton Clark is no big deal - I have done it from the high side a couple of times. Solo once in October and unroped in July. Lwer down there are cracks but if you do it from about 9k feet it is a cruise.

 

As for the second step, 30' of at most 75 degree ice. IHMO folks way over estimate the steepness of ice. When ice gets to be 75 plus degrees it feels over hanging simply because of the way tools are placed and you are actually hanging off them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pal, great job!! About this:

 

"Yes, another North Face trip report."

 

You keep posting each and everyone of them, we'll enjoy the pics, Dude!! Thanks for sharing :-) And love the pack with an external frame, you don't see that many out there...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
:rawk:

 

- the B.S.O.

 

I knew that pack was gonna be a hit.

 

---

 

Forgot to post the route pic...

 

leroute.jpg

 

Photo credit forthcoming (member here)... I just added the dots.

 

---

 

Anybody know whose pic this is? I thought I stole it from the Hood thread, but it's not in there...

Edited by Ben B.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Congrats on the solo Ben! Well done :tup:

 

Thine own NF solo served as pretty big inspiration. I read your TR and was struck- I had no idea people could do aggressive routes solo. I'd attempted a solo of Pearly Gates just before, and was rejected by the little 15' moderate step in there... then you posted a successful and even pleasant looking solo of "the hard side"... rearranged the way I envisioned the progression of my climbing.

 

Thanks for breaking trail, so to speak

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ben, that was quite the comprehensive TR. BTW that Wyoming dude was Ed's partner:

 

 

I dont know if you heard of the wyoming ice climbers who got hit by an avalanche...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×