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[TR] Mt. Hood - Leuthold Couloir 5/13/2014

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Trip: Mt. Hood - Leuthold Couloir


Date: 5/13/2014


Trip Report:

Ted Wogan, Paige Baugher and Phil Zook Friesen started at 1:00am on May 13, 2014. The temperature was about 40˚F and there was almost no wind. Palmer was a little soft, but not too bad. We reached Illumination Saddle at 3:30am, where we paused to rope up, put on layers, and eat cold Thai curry take out.


The work really began for Ted as we headed across the Reid Glacier. The snow was soft and about up to his knees. Paige firmed up the steps giving Phil an easy path. About half way across Ted gave up the lead to Phil to help make the old guy feel needed.


The crevasse below the route was not very open, but visible. It took until 6:00am to reach the start of the route.


Ted took over the lead as we started up the couloir towards the hour glass. There was a lot of small debris coming down the route and we were seriously considering backing off if the snow conditions continued to be soft...Paige said, "We are finishing this damn thing." Phil thought to himself, "There is no way we are going to make it in these conditions. Ted kept going up, but wasn't sure how we would turn around. After leading for 600ft Ted looked at Paige and said, "I think after this next section we are committed." Paige paused and looked down. She thought for a bit and said, "I think we are already committed."


The snow was soft, but only about ankle deep. We all had to put weight on our axes to keep from sinking in too far.


Phil took over the lead through the hour glass since Ted and Paige thought his head was the best shield to get hit by large boulders. Phil was oblivious to this set-up and charged ahead. It felt a little like an x-wing fighter going into the death star as pebbles flew buy at mach 4. Paige and Ted were bruised, but Phil's x-wing flying ability was above average and he exited the hour glass unscathed.


The snow was firming up a bit as the Jedi knights went higher on the mountain. There was a small bench just above the hour glass and off to the left that allowed the group to switch leads and get food and water. It was about 8:00am.


Ted led out of the hour glass and onto the best snow we had all day. It was not firm neve, but good enough to keep moving at a decent pace. The route opened up and headed directly up to the summit ridge.


We reached the ridge at about 10:00am and proceeded to get buzzed by a small single engine plane more than 30 times. We did not know it at the time, but a man had fallen off the summit and died just a few hours before.


As we moved across the summit ridge the snow became a little more soft, but very passable. It took another two hours to reach the Mazama descent shoot. With some finagling we descended off the route, skipping the summit because of the lateness of the day and the heat. Snow was like mash potatoes now and had a firm crust under foot. Ted angled over to the illumination saddle to get his skis while Paige and Phil took the South route back to the car. Conversation was lively and the time passed fairly quickly. We were off the route by about 2:30pm.


As Phil stepped onto the parking lot a Fox 12 New Reporter put a camera in front of his face and asked some questions about the snow conditions. Phil answered as best he could and found out for sure that someone had died that day on the mountain.


It is hard to reconcile such a fantastic climb with the reality that someone lost their life on the same mountain. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Rev. Robert J. Cormier's family and friends.


Gear Notes:

5 2ft Pickets

1 3ft Picker

2 Ice Tools per person

Avalanche Beacons

3 Shovels

3 Probes

60m 9.6meter dry treated rope




Approach Notes:

The approach was up Palmer, across the Illumination saddle and across the Reid Glacier. We stayed high on the Reid Glacier to avoid a crevasse near the bottom of the route.





In Hour Glass




Just Leaving the Hour Glass



Above the Hour Glass at about 8:00am





Edited by tworedshoes

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