August 6, 2011 – Eliot Glacier & Snowdome, Mt Hood

After spending all day at the fair with family enjoying my son’s birthday, I came home, loaded my gear in the truck, and headed north on Interstate 5 towards Mt Hood to meet Todd at the Cloud Cap campground.  Getting there proved a bit difficult, with road construction and detours, etc.   After a detour from Highway 35 to Parkdale, I was soon on Cloud Cap road and finally in the parking lot 4 hours later!  Todd had a fire going and I pitched my bivy and got camp situated before cracking a Deschutes Brew!  Shortly thereafter we hit the sack due our anticipated early start the next day.  My alarm went off at 4:30am and after a breakfast of cold cereal we hit the trail in time to watch an awesome sunrise illuminate Mt Adams to the north.

Sunrise from Hood's north side

Continuing up the main ridge towards the Eliot Glacier, the early morning sunlight on the mountain was beautiful.  Conditions on the mountain reminded me more of early July than early August.  By 6:30 we reached the bottom of glacier and put on the crampons.  Our ascent route crossed the Eliot and placed us on the west side of the glacier, skirting the major crevasses in the middle.  We did however, have to cross a pretty good crevasse on a somewhat sketchy snowbridge, but managed it without incident.  I snapped a couple of shots of the crevasses and kind of liked the way the below photo turned out.

Crevasses on the Eliot Glacier

By 7:30 we had reached the base of the Snowdome, our main objective for riding for the day.  We took a few minutes to rest and take in the view at the base of the dome before continuing with the climb.  The views from this side of the mountain are incredible.  Adams & Rainier were plainly visible to the north.

Rainier & Adams from Hood's northside

Conditions on the Snowdome were pretty smooth with minimal suncups, except for the very top.  We elected to stop a few hundred feet shy of the top of the dome due given the conditions.  Above the dome, the crevasses and bergschrunds of the Eliot/Coe/Ladd complex appeared very open and big.  Someday I’d like to climb and ride the Sunshine Route, but it was obvious conditions weren’t prime today.  After taking in the scenery for a few minutes and re-hydrating, it was time to make turns.

Todd making turns on the upper Snowdome

The ride down the upper part of the dome was really smooth, more so than I expected.  Todd had forgotten his camera, so I snapped a few shots of him making turns, then handed my camera off to him so he could snap a few of me.

Matt making August turns on Snowdome

Riding Mt Hood, August 2011

Near the base of the dome, I was able to snap a few shots of Todd on his tele’s making some nice turns with both Mt Rainier and Mt Adams in the background.  The blue sky gave a nice contrast to the white snow…

Tele turns on the north side of Hood

At the bottom of Snowdome, we traversed over to take a quick look at the Langille Bowls.  From what we could see, it didn’t look worth making a lap down there given the long hike back out (since the Timberline Trail is washed out), but looking at them later from Parkdale had me second guessing that decision.  At any rate, we elected to continue down from Snowdome onto the Eliot Glacier, finding decent turns all the way back down to the snow bridge crossing by the crevasses lower down.

Descending onto the Eliot Glacier

Crossing the snow bridge required putting the crampons back on in order to not fall off the darn thing, given how narrow and slanted it was.  After crossing, we made turns all the way back down the lower glacier and snow fingers to nearly the climbers trail.  Here’s a shot looking back at the north side of Hood and our route.  The snow finger we rode is in the lower middle of the picture.

The Eliot Glacier and Snowdome on Mt Hood

We were back on the climbing trail by 9:45 and it was starting to get warm.  It probably would have been worth making another partial lap, but given the 4 hour drive that loomed ahead, we decided to head back to the truck.

The view from the climbers trail...

Hiking back down the ridge took about 45 minutes, but seemed to take quite a bit longer than the approach, though I know we were moving faster.  Back at the truck, I said goodbye to Todd after loading my gear and pulled out.  The drive back down Cloud Cap road was a bumpy one as usual, but soon I was in Parkdale and stopped to take a couple of photos of Hood’s north side.  The north side of the mountain is really beautiful.

Mt Hood from Parkdale - August 2011

After leaving Parkdale, I drove through the orchard country, which has got to be one of the more beautiful places in the state.  Soon after that, I was in Hood River, and had a relaxing drive down the Columbia where several wind surfers were out on the water playing with their toys.  Finally, after a long drive back down Interstate 5, I returned home to a loving wife and two great boys who were ready to play with daddy!  And, it was only Saturday, so I had one more day on my three-day weekend.  What a wonderful way to spend the first part of August.  Living in Oregon is truly awesome!

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