Ascent of Mount Hood on 2019-02-07

Climber: Harvest Mondello

Date:Thursday, February 7, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Hood
    Elevation:11239 ft / 3425 m

Ascent Trip Report

Ascent of Mount Hood: Reid Glacier Headwall Route - Left Variation (III, AI3, WI2). Descent via Old Chute. Free solo except one variation gully which we simul climbed.

Party of 2. Our first ascent of the route. My 28th summit of Mount Hood. Only one other party summited today (party of two via South Side LPG). The lower ice gullys were type 1 fun but the long day & bitter cold made for a type 2 walk off.

We're at the start of what would end up being over a month of sub zero temps on the mountain.

The Approach:

One foot of new power. We didn't use floatation - it would have sped up the approach but been more to carry on the headwall. There was a boot path from Silcox to Palmer from a party climbing the South Side. This saved allot of energy. Breaking trail from Palmer to the base of the headwall took a long time. We timed the start to get to the start of the route at dawn due to low temps all day. Very cold & breezy on the approach with a wind from the NE.

The Route:

Great wind protection from I'll be saddle all the way until the West Crater Ridge above Reid Headwall. I'd been waiting several weeks for the right combination of cold temps, wind protection & blue bird visability on the route. The last several weeks wind has been blasting from the West with too warm temps during the day and only cold enough on cloudy or snow days . We're at the start of a cold spell today and heavy snows are forecasted to start the day after today.

We followed the Standard Left Variation until the last traverse to the wide gully below the Queens chair. It looked soft so we did a direction finish up one more gully to the West Crater Ridge and then followed this to the summit. This route has little opportunity for breaks unless you're willing to carve a ledge in the alpine ice which didn't seem worth the effort - we sucked down gels & h20 while climbing.

We went up 6 gullies total. You start with glacier travel then a wide gentle avi prone coulior for 500 vertical. The first gully had sustained AI 2 - maybe a pitch - followed by a WI3 step with nice feet & beautiful blue ice and a couple WI 2 steps. The second had 2 pitch of AI2. Then a long traverse left of 2-3 pitches AI2. Followed by a 3rd long WI 2 gulley of maybe 3 pitches of the most supple blue ice with single kick & single swing perfect sticks. Just after the blue ice is a short but steep 4th gully of AI 3 with a rock for a mantle move. The ice was beginning to soften here from the sun finally hitting the route despite the very low temps. Now there's one more short 5th gulley that had soft AI 3 and was challenging. We came to our first flat rest spot here just before the final standard traverse and took our first real break since Illumination Saddle. We choose a more interesting gully rather that the standard traverse. This final gully way A3 and two full 60m pitches with mostly soft snow but a few hard patches for screws. We roped up for this final gulley and simul climbed it. Bomber screw placements and very questionable picket placements.

Temps were 5F without wind. Things stayed nice and frozen most of the day - warming up for a couple hours in the afternoon where the sun hit a few gullies before refreezing. The route has good shade this time of the year and the calm breeze was from the NE (5-10mph) so we had good wind protection for the climb. 15F at Timberline at the start of the climb.

There was a 1" of crust of alpine ice on the snow sections. The 6 gullys we climbed had; blue water ice in 2 of them (WI with an avoided WI3), and 4 alpine ice (AI3) gullys with some steep snow sections.

Pro suggested: 40 meter to 60 meter rope.

For hardware note that this route can be mostly snow or mostly alpine ice depending on current conditions. 2-4 pickets & 2-4 screws (2 stubies, 2 13's and a 1 21 for v threads) to simul climb. Probably 6 pieces of pro max to simul climb. The ice can be very thin so stubies may be your best bet for protecting any steep steps. More pro would be needed to pitch out anything but this would be very time consuming. The screws were the most useful with our early season ice climb. Pickets are better in the spring or deep winter with the consolidated snow or powder and less ice. Many people would just free solo the headwall section.

You still want a rope and partner if the shrund is open.

We used 2 pickets and 3 screws.

Food/hydration: 2-3L water and 2-3k cal - mostly in energy gels is about right for me for this climb. I took 2 liters but on a warmer day 3 liters might be ideal. One heated liter and one with electrolytes & carbs.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5439 ft / 1657 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5439 ft / 1656 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Grade/Class:III / AI 3 / WI 2
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Snow Climb, Glacier Climb, Ice Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Headlamp, Ski Poles
    Weather:Frigid, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5439 ft / 1657 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 5239 ft / 1597 m; Extra: 200 ft / 60m
    Loss on way in:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:3.5 mi / 5.6 km
    Route:Reid Glacier Headwall - Left Variation
    Start Trailhead:6000 ft / 1828 m
    Time:14 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5239 ft / 1596 m
    Distance:3.5 mi / 5.6 km
    Route:South Side: Old Chute
    End Trailhead:6000 ft / 1828 m
    Time:3 Hours 30 Minutes

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