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[TR] Speed Ascent of Mt. Hood -- 2:02'37 - South Side - Pearly Gates 4/10/2014

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Trip: Speed Ascent of Mt. Hood -- 2:02'37 - South Side - Pearly Gates


Date: 4/10/2014


Trip Report:

For about a year I have been curious about my top speed on the SS of Mt. Hood. With the fast and light style in mind, I still wanted to maintain the actual 'climbing' of Mt. Hood while reaching my max speed. So I decided to skin up on my 187s as high as possible then crampon on up the rest of the way. With the record-setting speed at 1:56, I knew it would be nearly impossible to beat the trail runner's record, as I was wearing ski boots/skis and crampons, and equipped with a whippet and small back pack. But still, maintaining the purity of the climb -- including climbing the Pearly Gates with ice -- meant something to me (even if not the hardest climb). I also know this was an unsanctioned, unwitnessed climb (apart from my climbing partner), but also unsupported. Whatever, I gave it my best and had a great time. Conditions were so-so. Wind was a little colder and faster than forecast, and the snow above Palmer was all chicken heads and punch-through snow. Further, the Pearly Gates, were, er, not so pearly. But, haven't we all had worse days. Again, this timing is based on the honor system, but I'm sure my friend can attest to the milestones i reached en route to the top. It was a typical blue sky day.


Gear Notes:

187 skis/skins

Sportiva ski boots

Trekking pole


Small back-pack

Minor snacks

Helmet for safety

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My sense is that between now and mid to late April a lot of the precarious snow situated in cornices and vertical rock will have fallen, but if there are still loose pieces, one must take caution.


Conditions were mixed on my climb. Chicken head ice in the trianble moraine and then higher up there was variable crusty, icy, and even punch-through snow. The Pearly Gates were definitely preferable to the old chute because of the directness of the route and the nice yet low-angle ice step. Bring an ice axe or just a tool. Steel crampons are preferred if you want to descend the Pearly Gates, which I recommend.


Other than that, the condition for your climb could vary depending on weather between now and then.

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Very nice work. What kind of ski kit are you on, and did you carry your skis to the top?


Some things about the prior speed record doesn't with me, I have to say. The record holder makes a big deal about having an official timer and implicitly discredits ascents without one.


In my view, any record attempt/break should simply require honest reporting. Yours is a great example. Now that the game is down to a matter of minutes, it becomes important to mention the precise start and end points, but the athlete's watch should be an adequate measure of his/her effort.


Also, why is Mt Hood subject to a one-way record? Mt Rainier stands as a car-to-car effort, and that makes a lot more sense.

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I must say, the c2c time would be much harder to achieve. For me, descending has always been the challenge but also the delight when skiing.


I ditched the skis at the top of palmer and transitioned to crampons. The transition sucks up time, for sure. But, I simply refuse to 'climb' that mountain without skis. No one should walk off that mountain, ever. When I carry skis to the top it takes much longer, like 2:30.


The guy who set the record did it in sneakers. I'm tempted to try but apprehensive to do it sans climbing with crampons, axe, etc. His aim was to open up the realm of Trail running. My message: speed is safety, plain and simple.


Ski gear: 187 dynafit manaslu, sportiva spitfire, and broken dynafit bindings, among other a acoutrements.

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