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[TR] Mt Hood - Sandy Glacier Headwall 1/31/2015

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Trip: Mt Hood - Sandy Glacier Headwall


Date: 1/31/2015


Trip Report:

We climbed the Sandy Headwall on Saturday. I took an old digital p&s camera. The upside is lots of pics, the downside is they're not very high quality and some of them look pretty retro.


We left Timberline just after 4AM and climbed steadily to Illumination Saddle, pausing briefly to don crampons at the top of Palmer. At the saddle we took a quick break and roped up to cross the Reid.


Crossing the Reid was pretty straightforward but not particularly direct. We did a gently falling traverse pretty high before descending directly down the western margin near Yocum ridge. There were a lot of open cracks and I would imagine if the snowpack was fat you could make more directly for the Yocum crossing.


Mountain Shadow Beyond Youcum Ridge



Reid Glacier



Sorry that Reid shot is looking back toward the saddle and not at the climbing route. Reid and Leuthold are in condition, but looking a little more chocolatey than you would expect for January/February. The bergschrund below the Reid is open but looks easily passable. There was a team on this when we went by.


We crossed Yocum ridge and got on the Sandy between 7800 and 7900 feet and it was very, very easy. Once on the Sandy we did a rising traverse to get under the headwall. The guidebook (Mullee) shows more of a level traverse and then attacking straight up the gut, staying left of two prominent rocks. We climbed into the route above these rocks, from the right. Either way would work and we were probably a little more direct. We had straight-forward navigation through more open and nearly open cracks. There was a lot of water ice on the lower west side of Yocum ridge. If the approach was an hour it would make a great crag.


Looking Straight Across the Sandy at Our Travel Path



Crossing the Sandy Glacier



Rising Traverse on the Sandy




View from the Sandy Glacier



Once we got across and underneath the route all that was left was to climb! We headed straight up to the "hourglass" feature, which was more like a short band of cliff than and hourglass shape. Now that I am looking at the pictures, maybe the hourglass is the snow slope on the right hand side?? We climbed left of that because it just seemed more interesting, and we thought a route must have at least one step somewhere!


We climbed though a 6-8 ft tall nearly vertical water ice step and onto 50-55 degree water ice for about 40 feet. After this the slope eased back slightly and transitioned to alpine ice.

The climbing was very secure front pointing and daggers. The surface was firm but easy to chop a step into when you needed one. The slope is relentless! We climbed a little bit to the right on the upper headwall and came into the Queen's Chair right where upper Yocum Ridge dies in. The last 40 feet to the top was sweet kickable snow - the first snow of the climb. Sorry - only have pics near the bottom and the top.


"Hourglass Feature - Left



"Hourglass Feature - Right



Nearing the Top!



Topping Out



Once at the Queen's chair we enjoyed our first sun of the day and took a nice long break before heading for the summit. We had great views down the Sunshine route and over the Eliot.


At the Queen's Chair



Eliot Glacier



Cathedral Spire



Heading for the Summit



After a quick stop at the summit we downclimbed the Pearly Gates, greeted the rescue down at the hogsback and then headed for the cars.


In all the conditions were perfect for this route. The climbing might be easier on the headwall if is was more snowy, but the rest of the travel would have been much more strenuous. As it was we had firm footing all over the whole mountain, and never punched a single foot through on the entire approach. It was a great climb and fun to get to a less visited side of the mountain. The approach is long, but it rewards you with a climb that is long too. Highly recommended!


For those who have done this route and the North Face, how does the upper part of the two routes compare?



Gear Notes:

Glacier gear, selection of pickets and screws if you want the option to simul.


Approach Notes:

Timberline to Illumination Saddle, cross the Reid and over Yocum ridge to the Sandy at about 7800 feet.

Edited by diepj

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Sorry, no pics of the pencil, partners photos I've seen don't feature it either. Yocum ridge had a lot of water ice and verglas on the exposed rocky bits. It seems like there has been a lot of meltwater re-freeze on sun exposed parts of the mountain. Don't know if that helps.

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I did not see the pencil. I didn't approach the ridge until just before the photo is taken. Cathedral Ramp seems to be partially visible in the photo and that looked like it might have been in.


A hood FA won't come easy anymore - Check it out and let us know if it goes!

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