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[TR] Mt Hood - Steel Cliffs South Face 1/1/2015

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Trip: Mt Hood - Steel Cliffs South Face


Date: 1/1/2015


Trip Report:

Here's a TR for something different on the South Side of hood.


Thursday we rang in the new year with a new (for us) route up Hood. From the top of Palmer we did a rising traverse to the White River glacier, roped up and droppped down slightly and then continued the rising traverse to the base of the steel cliffs south face.


Traversing east above the top of palmer



Crossing the White River glacier



Once at the base of the cliffs, the route is pretty straight forward. The small step to gain the snowfield was not unlike what might be encountered ordinarily in the Pearly Gates. Above the step follow the broad snow field up and left before hooking right to gain the Wy'East ridge.


Upper steel cliffs snowfield



From there the route is the same as Wy'East, including nice views into the crater from the east. There was a New Year's party happening at the base of the Pearly Gates.


Mt Hood Crate and Hogsback from the top of the DK headwall



Wy'East crux



Above the crux



On the summit we enjoyed some bubbly, which we were able to share with a couple who got engaged just minutes before we arrived!


We downclimed the pearly gates. This is the easiest condition I have ever seen the gates in. With the amount of snow in there it could be climbed with a single axe. With some more freeze-thaw it will get in better climbing condition.


No one climbed the old Chute yesterday, the snow was just way too deep to get over there.


The main navigational concerns for the day were related to staying out of deep snow. Crossing the white river involved some serious wallowing. As did sections of the cliffs snowfield, and the snow near the summit.


In all this is a fun, though not very technical route. It seems seldom done and I couldn't find another TR for it on the site. With firm snow this route could be done pretty quickly and would be a nice alternative to the normal south side routes of similar difficulty.


Gear Notes:

Gear for the glacier. Additional gear if feel it is warranted for the upper part of Wy'East. Conditions dependent for sure on that.


Approach Notes:

Timberline to top of Palmer. Traverse the White River glacier to the base of the cliffs.

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Cool! Now that you mention it I saw that report back when. We took the red route. We speculated that you could climb the ridge proper, on your green line, but figured we'd go the easy way the first time up.


When we had to cross over the ridge to join Wy'East we also had some thin snow which was hollow over the rocks below. The angle was low, so the only concern was with breaking through but not with falling

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Great route. Got some time this weekend to climb the South side and have really been wanting to try this route. My only concern is the rising temps for the weekend(30's-40's). Although we plan on setting up above the Palmer Sat night and getting a 2AM start I'm concerned about the weather. Any thoughts on this route for this weekend??

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No major concerns with regard to the weather. It will be a more spring-like climb. Watch the wind forecast.


One thing to keep in mind is the step at the base of the route, linking the lower snow on the White River glacier and the Steel Cliff South face snow field above. We solo'd through this step, which was maybe 10 feet of 60 degree rime gully. I would compare it to something you might find in the pearly gates. Since our climb there hasn't been much snow and instead there has been some warms temps and even rain. Be prepared for rime or maybe even water ice conditions here. Depending on your experience and comfort level with this type of terrain this might be your crux. If you leave the top of Palmer at 2AM you'll be facing it before sunrise.


When you get up the step keep heading left. Don't head straight up into any narrow couloirs. Read that again. When you look at route photos this should make sense, but it is easy to get drawn upward.


Be careful on the glacier. The bridges, especially at the margins, seemed thin (punched a leg in getting on the glacier) You'll be heading into this in the dark so it'll be harder to read the snow.


Have fun, climb safe, post a TR or update if you go.

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