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Ptown_Climber1

[TR] Mt. Hood - Wy East 5/2/2015

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Trip: Mt. Hood - Wy East

 

Date: 5/2/2015

 

Trip Report:

This route has captured my interest for years, but for whatever reason it had eluded me. Friday night we took care of business on the ol' Wy East or rather she took care of us. The weather was near perfect...light winds out of the west, decent freeze level, and a near full moon.

 

We got our gear together at the climbers' cave around midnight, grateful to know that on this night we'd not have to deal with the Mazama hordes that had already congregated for very long.

 

After the usual monotonous slog to the top of Palmer we made our way up and to the east. Crossing the White River glacier had stymied previous attempts of this route, so this time we were determined to find the crossing. 9,400 feet is the magic number according to Jeff Thomas, so we went with that. Sure enough, at around 9,500 feet there was a slight ramp down that afforded us a pretty uneventful passage above the crevasse fields below. We roped up and made our way down and cross....

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The first of many things I underestimated about this route was at hand. The slog up the head of Newton Clark Glacier was seemingly endless, with slopes steepening gradually. The recent avalanche debris fields below and all around were disconcerting. Hence we tried to keep it moving, as by now the sun was gaining strength. After what seemed like an eternity we reached the top of Steel Cliffs and were granted a birds eye view of some of the aforementioned Mazama hordes strewn about the Hogsback.

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A short time later we got our first look at the summit mass and 'crux' of the climb. The traverse across the col was narrow and exposed, but snow was soft. The 'fun' was about to begin...

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I led us up the first section of the upper ridge. From a distance it looked real straight forward, but as I got closer I could tell the 'snow' was mostly dirty, rotten rock-encrusted ice that was difficult to get much of a purchase on. What's more, there's a short, step-down traverse which we had to stoop down into as a bulge of rock/ice protruded out at the start. My first attempt to kick in a step ended in a small explosion of ice shards....after a bit I was across and up and over the rib there, giving me a closer look at the snow gullies to the summit ridge. Here the snow was softer and more agreeable to at least some sort of protection.

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At this point I made a mistake...I took an immediate left turn and headed up what I thought was the steep gully to the summit rim. Of course now I realize there's another traverse there to access the 'second' and correct gully. I had to make a harrowing down climb of the dead end icy chute to make the traverse over.

So if you haven't climbed this route, but decide to, mind you don't make my same mistake...

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This traverse is pretty exposed, and was also really icy. Once in the gully proper the snow was ridiculously soft; we post-holed our way across and up the final pitch. I determinedly tried to block out the specter of an avalanche in such a vulnerable spot. Later, over beers, my partners admitted the same...

 

But we did top out over the summit rim, and made the weary, slightly hypoxic trudge over to the true summit. By this time most the people were gone, and we had it to ourselves. The descent was uneventful; the conditions in the crater were good for how relatively late in the day it was.

 

Overall it was a great climb and one we'll talk about for quite some time. I have to think that in different seasons and or conditions it would be easier, but it might be a while before I find that out.

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Gear Notes:

rope, pickets, two axes, Big Dad jerky

Edited by Ptown_Climber1

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