|Mt Hood from Trillium Lake, 2013|
Not one hour later I get a text from Andrew stating something to the tune of: "How about we climb Hood this weekend?" "Well damn, ya why don't we," I replied? Boom just like that my frustrations were answered.
Fast forward a few days (1/17/14), and we had a crew of 6 climbers with enough experience to make a safe go at it. Keep in mind that a winter ascent of Hood is never something to take lightly and something I thought I'd never try, but with an extremely snow snow patch, clear skies and warmer temperature conditions, it was basically like a spring summit attempt.
|Clare loaded to the gills|
We made decent time up Magic Mile and Palmer Express. This was the first "tour" in my new backcountry setup so I was eager to try it out. My setup is more of a sidecountry setup than lightweight backcountry touring setup, but it got the job done.
We took a quick break at the top of the Palmer lift, refueled and switched to crampons and ice axes. I was a little nervous to be climbing in my ski boots as they are not a true touring boot, but in the end, I didnt notice anything except the weight. No blisters or irritation.
We slowly made our way up to the Triangle Moraine and the Steel Cliffs, passing Illumination Rock just as the sun was coming up. Here we took another break before setting off for Devils Kitchen and the Hogsback.
|Yours Truly. Selfie|
|Looking back down at the resort and it's fleet of Cats|
|Notice Mt Hood's shadow|
|Andrew scoping the line|
|Elena making her way up|
|Wow a nice little rest feels good!|
We all set off, slowly traversing across the face. As we were almost in position, we heard someone yell Rock slightly above us, only to see someones boot shell spiraling down the mountain crampons and all. The guy was clearly struggling so a member of our party went over and help him back down to the hogsback, even lending him his extra ice axe.
Around that time, Andrew's girlfriend Elena got a little spooked and opted to retreat to the safety of the Hogsback. Around this time, the first of our party reached the top of the chute only to discover that the ice bridge/ridge was too narrow to safely cross. Two of us made it to the top and also assessed our options. While debating what to do, the third member of the group decided to ascend the chute next to us to determine with the snow bridge was strong enough to hold us because he could be the backside more clearly. He deemed that it would definitely hold, but we just need to go slowly and take it one at a time.
|Coming up the chute|
But that was only half the journey, we still needed to descend safely. We each made our way back down the chute, making sure to give each other enough breathing room. Andrew and his buddy made it down super quick, but the rest of us took a lot longer, as we very carefully crawled about down. In the end, it took us about an hour to come down a very small section.
Once at the Hogsback, we all started our descent back to the skis. It was a long slog down in slushy, sticky snow condition, but we eventually made it to the skis. A quick change in gear and we were bombing down the mountain. My quads weren't too happy, but I was definitely pleased to be making some ground.
Back at the car, we celebrated with some victory beer, gallons of water and snacks before heading down the the Mt Hood Brewery for a resupply of calories.