Ascent of Mount Hood on 2012-07-07

Climber: BMS 914

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, July 7, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Hood
    Elevation:11239 ft / 3425 m

Ascent Trip Report

The ascent began early Saturday AM at the Timberline Lodge parking lot. After filling out the paperwork, Jason C and I began preparations for the ascent. Jason's back went out again putting on his plastic boots, and try as he might to get it ready he was out, and I was on my own. So a little after 12:30AM the journey began where the snow met the asphalt at the edge of the parking lot.

Ignoring the fact that I had never used crampons and had a less than clear idea of my precise route on the lower half of the mountain, I fired up my headlamp and began shuffling toward the GPS waypoint indicating where the Snowcats drop people off. I shadowed a group that was about a hundred meters ahead of me, following in their footsteps quite literally. This was difficult as I was constantly closing the gap and having to slow down. When they would stop, I would too. They eventually caught on to my parasitic tactics and parked on some exposed rock, waiting for me to pass them, which I did.

In the darkness, I could see headlights of other climbers far up the glacier, and eventually overtook a group near some rocks taking a break. Their leader had been up the route over a dozen times, and we discussed it. The moon was up and the darkness was not complete, and I could follow the path he was describing. With the waypoints in my gps as a fall-back and the route in my head, one major concern was addressed.

I made it up to the Triangle Moraine, and the Devil's Kitchen around 10200'. The temps were still warm, I wasn't even wearing gloves, and was not cold. Here, a group was stopped, putting on crampons. I followed suit, another major concern had solved itself. I went easily up the ridge to below The Hogsback, and could see the broad bergschrund. I traversed below the Hot Rocks, then began the steep ascent up the icy Coalman Glacier, thinking a fall here would be difficult to arrest. I passed several parties on the steep slope, my adaptation to elevation being very solid, and feeling like I was fresh.

Eventually, the Old Chute became apparent in the new morning light. I didn't like the look of it, as it was much steeper than I had anticipated. A group was waiting to be top-roped by a guide who was almost at the top of the chute. Everyone else was climbing unbelayed, using ice tools or two ice axes. Having no harness and only one axe, I had to make do by shoving my gloved fingers into holes in the ice. Slowly, I made it to the top of the chute, and moments later completed an easy traverse to the summit.

Downclimbing the Old Chute proved more difficult than going up, but I made it without incident. Part way down the Coalman Glacier, the ice cliffs flanking the Old Chute began to crumble, raining ice chunks on the climbers below. I took a glancing blow the helmet, knocking me off my feet in the steep, icy slope. The blow pushed me forward, but the jerk back had me sliding on my side. I rolled onto my stomach, then caught a crampon point, flipping me in a weird way. I was now going downhill, and someone was yelling "arrest, arrest" at me. My ice axe had been dislodged in the head impact, and I was in trouble, with at least 800' of the steep, ice-crusted glacier still below me. If I picked up any speed I would end up in the Hot Rocks far below (or worse). I finally stopped using forearms and knees, the snow having been warmed enough to be a little less icy than earlier, and never having picked up too much speed.

I looked up to tell the guy who had been yelling at me I was alright, and took an ice chunk square to the bridge of my nose, with fragments hitting my uncovered eyes. I began sliding again, but stopped quicker this time. Fortunate, as I was now over a slightly steeper section. Breathing a sigh of relief, I discovered that I was still in great danger of falling. I was tenuously stopped, but any movement seemed to start me moving again. It was frustrating to think that I had avoided an uncontrolled fall twice, but was still going to end up tumbling to bottom!

Gradually, I worked my left hand toward my right wrist, and the lanyard of my salvation. There were a few fitful starts again during this, and I hardly dared to breathe for fear of killing myself. I eventually got hold of the ice axe leash, and inch by inch reeled it in, slipping about two extra feet when the transition to grabbing the head and plunging the pick into the glacier took place. Brother, was that ever a close call!

I got up, I could see again, but was a little woozy and blood was running down my nose from the bridge, it actually made me laugh at my good fortune in the grand perspective. I won't soon look uphill when people are calling out "ice" again.

The ice had not finished with me or others climbing or descending the Coalman Glacier, more kept coming, and I had just about enough of Mt Hood to last me for a while. I continued down the Glacier toward Crater Rock, getting hit several times by small pieces of ice, one of which hurt my hand a bit but mostly just stung.

Looking at Crater Rock, I began to get an uneasy feeling about rockfall, even though I hadn't spotted rocks on the snow on the way up. Sure enough, about halfway down the Hogsback, a big noise of grating rock was heard along with cries of warning, and I had to dodge two big pieces coming right for me at chest level, one the size of a football helmet. The rest continued down toward the Devil's Kitchen area, nearly hitting some climbers adjusting gear and resting there.

Without stopping to take off my crampons, I pounded past the Kitchen, and down onto the lower parts of the mountain. I eventually took off the crampons, tried to glissade but couldn't, and plunge ran the last 2.2 miles down the glacier in under 30 minutes, including stops to warn other climbers of the ice/rockfall danger above.

Overall, it was a fantastic trip; though I did end up with a small fracture to my nose from that chunk of ice that got me in the face. What a great day in the mountains!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5411 ft / 1648 m
    Extra Gain:31 ft / 9 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.3 mi / 11.7 km
    Route:South Side - Old Chute
    Trailhead:Timberline Lodge  5890 ft / 1795 m
    Grade/Class:Grade I, AI2
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Snow Climb, Glacier Climb, Ice Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Headlamp, Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Clear and very warm (for Hood).
Ascent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 55 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by BMS 914
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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