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mgetlin

[TR] Mt. Hood - Reid Headwall 1/25/2016

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Trip: Mt. Hood - Reid Headwall

 

Date: 1/25/2016

 

Trip Report:

Took a spin up Reid yesterday in perfect weather and deep snow. Left the lot at 3:30 and skied down from the saddle to the base of the route. Mistakenly thinking we were already above the 'schrund I headed up toward the first step too far to the right which meant when we did encounter the schrund, it made for an interesting and time-consuming crossing.

 

There were debris fields both at the bottom of the right gully on the Reid and below Leuthold's. Needless to say, we were a bit apprehensive which was not helped when I dug a pit and had my CT fail on isolation...twice. There was a hard rain crust about 18 inches down that was causing the problem. Needless to say, we stayed out of the main gully as long as we could and quickly traversed up and left once through the choke point. Above 9500 ft or so, that rain crust was gone and the slopes were quite a bit more stable.

 

We found no need for belays and had no issues with the somewhat notorious route finding. Some effort was required in slogging up through loose snow which seemed to stick, chest deep, to impossibly steep slopes. Coming out of the second gully I was able to make upward progress by burying a tool sideways like a dead man, digging a trench for my forearm, and packing the snow down on top of the thing. Doing this time and again made for slow progress but with perfect weather and the route to ourselves, I can think of worse places to spend a morning.

 

There was not much in the way of ice to climb as most of it was buried but there were a few short sections of steep rime (which was still feathery as nothing we saw up there has gone through a freeze-thaw cycle in quite some time). That said, it was a spectacular day and a ton of fun.

 

After taking our time and lounging under a beautiful overhanging rime feature, we topped out a little after 12:30 and skied down Old Chute. Our original plan to ski Leuthold's was foiled by the (somewhat surprising) lack of stability. The snow conditions lower on the mountain were pretty scary despite the "moderate" hazard posted by NWAC.

 

It's a beautiful route and one of my favorites on Hood. Here are a few pictures!

 

image612.JPGimage414.JPGimage511.JPG

 

Gear Notes:

Two tools and warm mittens for swimming

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sketch..

 

Good job getting on it, and somehow not sliding the whole fuck'n face

 

Primo route, in ice conditions.. my favorite on the mountain. Can't imagine trying to do it in deep snow, though.. hell of an effort, that'd be. Strong men, thou must be!

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what, then, was the point of digging the pit?

 

It's easy to judge from the comfort of my armchair, but I have to admit having the same reaction. Still, thanks for the stoke, and especially for not becoming another statistic in what has been a pretty grim year, avalanche-wise!

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Digging the pit did a couple things....it gave us information about what the specific avalanche problem was (ie...F hard wind slab on a P hard crust) which let us make some decisions. We figured that, from where we were, there was possibly as much or more risk in down climbing as the temps rose in the morning as there was in continuing up.

 

It also indicated that the weak interface between the slab and the crust which was causing the avalanche problem would probably become less severe as we ascended (since there was not likely to be the same crust on the upper portions of the mountain given the recent T-Line weather observations we had closely watched for a few days. All that said, it also coaxed us to climb on the sides of the main gullies as much as possible and to haul ass through the choke points!

 

It also answered the question of whether or not we would ski Leutholds. That said, it was definitely on the edge of my comfort zone even given that we were able to avoid the worst terrain traps etc.

Edited by mgetlin

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Digging the pit did a couple things....it gave us information about what the specific avalanche problem was (ie...F hard wind slab on a P hard crust) which let us make some decisions. We figured that, from where we were, there was possibly as much or more risk in down climbing as the temps rose in the morning as there was in continuing up.

 

playing devil's advocate: the notion that from where you were it was safer to continue instead of retreat might imply that you dug the pit too late? In my mind if I'm digging a pit, I'm looking for something specific, and if I find it, I'm flipping it. It seems like you found it, but were unable to flip it.

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We all assess the risk, make a decision, and so far all of us reading this have come home, anyway. It's the social dynamics of the decision that scare me. Hopefully everyone has read the New York Times story on the Tunnel Creek avalanche. If not, this is a really good time for it - it's an amazing bit of journalism.

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not to poo-poo avi risks, but...how many folks have been killed by avis on hood? can't have been more than a couple over the centuries...

 

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not to poo-poo avi risks, but...how many folks have been killed by avis on hood? can't have been more than a couple over the centuries...

 

I would have agreed with this sentiment, until a couple months ago.

 

Then I survived my first ever slab fucking avalanche on the south face of iRock.

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not to poo-poo avi risks, but...how many folks have been killed by avis on hood? can't have been more than a couple over the centuries...

 

You're actually quite right. One fatality blamed on avalanche in 1896 and one in 1998. Far more fatalities have been blamed on falls and weather. So I guess we don't have to worry about avalanches for another 84 years or so.

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Haha. This is a valid point. I think a lot of the lack of accidents is attributable to the fact that (relative to other times of year) the slide prone slopes don't see much traffic in winter. Plus the relatively warm snow pack up here usually stabilizes so quickly that by the time the weather windows open for climbing, the snow is pretty well bonded. That said, I'd hate to become fodder for the forums by being the only asshole to die in a slide on Hood in 30 years.

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Awesome route. Was there on 01.31 and was ass deep in powder snow on the bottom of the couloir... with snowshoes on! Turned around.

Leth_Coul_1.jpg

Edited by Mikhail

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was ass deep in powder snow on the bottom of the couloir...

 

Daaang!

 

We encountered conditions like this in 2013 and didn't summit till midnight. Glad to add this character building experience to the list... but next time I'm turning around.

Edited by PuckerJunkie

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