Ascent of Mount Hood on 2018-02-10

Climber: Harvest Mondello

Date:Saturday, February 10, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Hood
    Elevation:11239 ft / 3425 m

Ascent Trip Report

South Side Route: Hogsback - Boyscouts Chute. AG II / AI 3 (overhung loose rhime ice*). Descend One O'clock Chute (25*) to Hot Rocks.

The Chute Route is _not_ in good condition and I do not recommend climbing it at this time. It's currently impossible to protect and there's an overhung loose rhime ice section that's AI 3 on questionable, exposed, loose alpine rhime ice. A fall would be very bad. The loose climb section and scetchy decent made for type 2 fun.

Conditions on the mountain: An unusual mix of conditions (like a mix of all 4 seasons). Ice & rhime ice from car to summit. Basically dinner plate breaking glass is the sound we made on the way up & down.

Take I slipped 3 times coming down Old Chute above Hot Rocks and had to self belay with two tools to arrest my slips to prevent them from becoming falls. This was scary.

Temps never lowered for anything to soften (nice winter temps). Blue bird day without a cloud in the sky. Snow coverage is bare (like early fall). The bergshrund is opening - about 2" wide on the Hosback (like spring) . Hot Rocks is completely melted out (like in summer).

Party of three: Nik, Sam & H (tf). Sam went the Right Pearly Gate and Nik & I went directly up the Chute (the route above the Hogsback to the left of the Left Pearly Gate). Summit #21 for me of Mount Hood!

7 hours up and 3 hours down. 10 hours round trip.

Please note that there were serious objective hazards on the mountain today including;

- Open crevacces & open fumerols. Fall, spring & summer conditions. These are no joke. The gases are poisonous & the impact of a fall into a crevacces can crack your skull open

- Less than ideal conditions: Ice is the hardest to self arrest on. Styrofoam is easiest to arrest. Powder it depends on the consistency & temp. Having an extra point of contact can help. I personally generally carry 2 tools & ice crampons unless I know for a fact conditions don't require it based on trustworthy beta. A fall on the steeper portions of Mount Hood typically is fatal if the climber is unable to self arrest in the first few seconds of the fall. After that you're going too fast & there are generally hazards below (crevvaces & fumerols). Today the conditions were a combination of hard ice with a layer of loose ice on top. It would be hard to self arrest before gaining too much speed to stop. It was difficult to get good footing on due to irregularities & instability of the top layer of lose 'dinner-plate' ice.

- Inexperienced climbers falling on people or knocking objects onto people from above. This may or may not have been present on my exact route but nearby someone dropped a picket (heavy metal pole with a sharp point at the end!) and it fell a thousand feet going at a high speed going downing the standard Devils Kitchen route. Clanking as it went...

Also, be prepared for year round (but not encountered today):

- Weather was good today, however you must be pre-paired for storms: storms are the crux of Mt Hood. White outs & high winds. Mt Hood had been known to get 150 mph winds. 50-80 are very common in the winter.

- Rock-fall & Ice-fall. These are very common year round when temps rise above freezing. There was no significant rock-fall/ice-fall today due to sub freezing temperatures. However, this is a hazard year round and parties must be geared (helmets/goggles) and ready to turn around if they're not going to make it to a safe area before the mountain warms up.

- Variable steepness depends on snow consistency & wind patterns. I'd call this part of snow consistency category. The steepness was low today but the consistency wasn't great. Always ask yourself, what are the consequences of a fall here? What can i do to be in a safer position?

In conclusion I would not recommend climbing under the current conditions unless all 3 of the following criteria are met:
- Everyone in the party is geared for the current conditions (including ice tools, ice crampons and potentially rope & pro).
- Experienced enough to be confident and able to self arrest on hard ice that's covered in loose ice.
- In a climbing party geared for and able to self rescue. In my opinion this rules out solo climbing under the current conditions.

If in doubt one can always turn around if experiencing conditions you're not pre-paired for.

Sadly, someone died on the standard route 3 days after our climb. Conditions were significantly deteriorated at the time. In particular rock-fall & ice-fall from warmer temperatures.

My best wishes to the family. No links will be included as the media already had way too much coverage (streaming climber as he died on Facebook among other locations which is not cool).

A more serious article below discusses what was wrong with the coverage:

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5239 ft / 1596 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5239 ft / 1596 m
    Round-Trip Distance:6.8 mi / 10.9 km
    Grade/Class:AG II / AI 3
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb, Ice Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5239 ft / 1596 m
    Distance:3.4 mi / 5.5 km
    Route:South Side: Icefall Chute(Boy Scouts Chute)
    Start Trailhead:6000 ft / 1828 m
    Time:7 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5239 ft / 1596 m
    Distance:3.4 mi / 5.5 km
    Route:South Side: Old Chute - One O'clock Chute
    End Trailhead:6000 ft / 1828 m
    Time:3 Hours 

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