It’s hard to beat a combo trip of rock climbing and snowboarding! With rock and ski gear in the car, my wife and I headed out to Smith Rock to get some climbing in, with the plan to climb Mt Hood the day following. We met Todd in the parking lot around 9:00 am and started hiking towards Misery Ridge. We spent most of the day climbing in the area near the Monkey Face and the weather was perfect. Here’s a shot of one of the areas we climbed….
After the hike back out to the truck, my wife and sister-in-law (who also climbed with us) headed back to the Willamette Valley, while Todd and I drove north on Highway 97. We made a brief stop in Madras for some supplies, then continued on. As we neared Mt Hood, the weather clouded up and it appeared to be raining towards Government Camp. We made the decision to pull into the Clear Lake campground about 12 miles from Govy and got the last remaining camp site. That night we enjoyed a nice fire and some beer from Deschutes Brewery before hitting the bivy. The rain held off all night and we awoke at 3:30 am and packed up camp. We drove through a dense cloud layer above Govy, and were pleased to see the outline of the Hood emerge as we pulled into to the Timberline parking lot with no clouds in sight. We signed in at the climbers cave, and left the parking lot and started skinning about 5:20 am. We made good time up to the top of Palmer.
Snow conditions were frozen hard above 8000 feet, so I found a good place to put the ski crampons on so I could continue skinning.
We continued up the White River snowfield, and at around 9000 feet, due to terrain and frozen snow, put the boards on our backs and continued on with crampons and ice axes. The resulting heavy packs slowed our progress considerably.
Several climbers were ahead of us higher up clogging up the upper route. We continued climbing and reached the Hogsback about 10:15, and considered heading up the Mazama Chute, as the other options were melted out. While mulling over the options, it became apparent that rockfall was a hazard, with several shouts of “rock” coming from parties above us in the chute. One lady got hit pretty hard in the arm with a rock. As we assesed the situation and were preparing to climb on, we heard an “oh shit”, and looked up to see a climber tumbling like a rag doll down the steep slope below the Mazama Chute. A person in the party next to us called 911 and a snowcat and helicopter were deployed for help. Obvisously, heading up was no longer a good option, so we offered our help. After the situation was under control, we hiked west of Crater Rock and snapped a few photos.
Up higher, there were about 6-7 people tending to the injured climber, who had apparently hurt his leg. We walked back over to the Hogsback and talked to a few other climbers who said that a cat was heading up from Timberline to haul the guy down to the lodge. Knowing we wouldn’t be going any higher today, we took off the crampons, switched over to ride mode and waited a few more minutes, just taking in the views and letting the snow corn a bit more. Heading to the top would have been nice, but it really wouldn’t have been worth riding due to the snow conditions above the Hogsback. Here’s a shot of the upper mountain and Hogsback from our drop in point (I cropped the people tending to the injured climber out of the photo).
As we strapped in an made the first few turns, it was apparent the corn was going to be good. The turns below Crater Rock were some of the best of the year. We headed out towards the Zigzag Glacier to harvest some more corn, and the glacier was in excellent condition as usual. We shot mostly movies on the way down instead of pics, and ripped up over 4000 feet of vertical.
We were back at the lodge by 12:30 or so, and down at Govy by 1:30 sipping on an IPA and watching Federer get beat by Nadal at Wimbledon, while eating an enormous pizza at the Ratskellar. I love this time of year! Conditions on the Hood should be good for another couple of weeks, especially on the Zigzag, though the summit route is pretty much done for this year.