Sunday, May 27, 2012

5.25.2012 Mt. Hood

Here in the northwest it's still winter in the high mountains. The day after arriving home, my father and I decided to attempt Hood via the familiar South Side route on skis. We left the house at 4 AM and arrived at the blustery Timberline parking lot at 5:15AM.Temperature 34 degrees, sleet and 25 MPH winds.
The parking lot at 5:30. Elevation 6000'.
Midway up the Magic Mile, ice and sleet freezing to our shells

The faint outline of the Silcox Hut appears in the clouds. Elevation 7200' and winds reaching 35MPH.

By following the canyon towards the Silcox Hut, we made slow progress in whiteout conditions with visibility ranging from a quarter mile to a few feet. In the summer this gulch is twenty five feet deep, but the Timberline snowcats had filled it almost completely in making navigation difficult. 1:15 to the Silcox.
Moving left and following the lift towers up the Palmer we made swift progress in increasingly variable winds. An atypical storm system rotating counter clockwise around northern California meant NE winds, so the further up the mountain the more we entered the eddy behind it. 

The mid station on the Palmer lift. 7900'.
A typical view while skiing above the palmer.
Approaching Crater rock and at the beginning of the unstable slabs. Final elevation 10,200'.
 By now the temperature had dropped into the low twenties, and with the wind the temperature was somewhere around zero. We made steady progress up to the steepening slopes below Crater Rock. Here we turned on the transceivers and split the avy gear. The wind loading at this point was pretty bad with a variable windpacked slab over ice. Following a band of ice encrusted rocks, we worked to minimize the risk. Upon reaching Crater Rock, we made the decision to turn around. Having climbed the route many times, and with the knowledge that wind loading issues increase dramatically on the Hogsback, climbing further wasn't worth it. Time to enjoy the ski down. In between sucker holes (rents torn in the clouds by the mountain) we skied down in fairly challenging wind packed, crusted snow. Great skiing all considered.

Back in the sun at the top of the Magic Mile. Quite a change from earlier in the day. The top of the mountain was still cloud capped from 9000' onwards.

The gear and the rig.

One last note on equipment. I received this pack (BD Speed 55) as a replacement for my BD Quantum 65. On first impression I am very impressed with the new ergo active suspension system, quality of build and functionality. The most comfortable pack I have ever worn and simple in design. Very well thought out.

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