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Trip Report    

Mount Hood/North Face Right Gully

This is an amazing climb on the North (less popular) side of Hood. It included an exciting bergschrund crossing on the Elliot Glacier, steep snow up the North Face right gully, two nice WI2-3 ice steps, and even some mixed climbing to get through a rock outcropping just below the summit. We did it in two days camping just below Snow Dome with a ski approach and descent to camp. All in all a great route with lots of fun climbing and some fun skiing on the way down.

  • Sat, May 4, 2019 — Sun, May 5, 2019
  • Mount Hood/North Side
  • Climbing
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The approach trail was snow free up to about 5,200', just below the Tilly Jane cabin. The snow was pretty soft down low, but skis worked great for flotation and it firmed up by the time we reached our camp at 8,400'.

    In the morning the snow had frozen hard and made for great climbing.  The bergschrund was a challenge as the snow on top wasn't solid enough to support body weight and the ice bands were few and far between. Fortunately there was more ice near the edges and this is where we crossed.  The two ice steps higher on the route were both in great shape and very plastic and the snow between them was good for kicking steps.  The top was partially melted out but we were able to find a route mostly on snow with a few steps on rock to get to the summit.

    The descent route was icy on top and soften up as we descended down the Sunshine route which made for good plunge stepping back down to camp.   Skiing out was good above the Tilly Jane cabin, and sun cupped below there.

This is an amazing climb on the North (less popular) side of Hood.  It included an exciting bergschrund crossing on the Elliot Glacier, steep snow up the North Face right gully, two nice WI2-3 ice steps, and even some mixed climbing to get through a rock outcropping just below the summit. We did it in two days camping just below Snow Dome with a ski approach and descent to camp.  All in all a great route with lots of fun climbing and some fun skiing on the way down.

 My climbing partner George and I had been talking about going back down to Oregon and climbing the North face of Mt Hood since our failed attempt in 2016.  Back then we tried to do it in one day and started late from the Tilly Jane snow park and didn't get up to the base of the climb until will after sunrise and on the way up I dropped my helmet on the glacier  in the dark and listened to it skitter down the ice. Eventually we couldn't hear it any more, either because it stopped or it got too far away from us to hear it any more.   I went looking for it and  found it about 10 min later out in the middle of the glacier. This added to our late start and by the time we got to the Burgshrund it was well past sunrise and we were both just not really feeling it that day and decided we would call it.  So we had some unfinished business on Mt Hood.

 I picked up George at his house at 6 am and drove down to Mt. Hood.  It was an uneventful drive and we arrived at the trail head around 10:30.  We had more gear this year as we decided to take two days and camp on the mountain this year and did our final gear check before taking off.  George had done a much better job at packing than I did and his pack only weighed about 26 lbs w/o group gear and mine was closer to 29 lbs.  

 We started out in our ski boots as there was already some snice on the trail and we hoped that we would hit snow soon and be able to start skinning.   Unfortunately the snow didn't get deep enough to put on skins until we were just shy of Tilly Jane camp near the top of Doe Creek at 5200' about 2.25 miles from the car.

 We had lunch at Tilly Jane and then headed up the trail along Cooper Spur ascending until we reached 7000' where the trail drops down onto the Eliot Glacier. In the summer there is a large cairn indicating where to drop down onto the Eliot.  It wasn't there today, but there were some ski tracks heading down and across the glacier that we followed.

 The direct route stays climbers left on the Eliot, but we were going to camp on the ridge above Langille crags on or just below Snow Dome so we headed across the glacier and up the ridge on the North side of Eliot glacier.  It was a warm day and we were both dehydrated and tired and decided to stop and camp at the base of the Snow Dome at about 8400'.  This put us in a good position to approach the right gully of the North Face in the morning.

 At camp the wind was blowing pretty hard all night long and fortunately George found a great spot of the tent on the lee side of a rock ridge well protected from the wind. He started working on the tent platform while I worked on melting snow for water.  We got the tent set up and continued to melt snow for water collecting about 5-6 liters of water, boiled water for two dinners and tea,  and didn't use up one of our larger gas canisters.  After dinner we prepped for the morning (harnesses, climbing gear, crampons, and axes) and then went to bed.

 The alarm went off at 3am and were walking out of camp at a little after 4. We did not fire up the stove but had cold breakfast (it wasn't too cold out) before starting out. We decided to not carry our skis up to the summit this trip. The route follows a south/southwest direction up the mountain towards the climbers right side of the bergschrund protecting the North Face routes.  As we started out we noticed headlamps from another group heading up Cooper Spur (we met them the day before at Tilly Jane), but we were alone on the North Face route.

 We reached the bergschrund (9400') at about 5:10 and it was wide open across most of the face and we were able to step across a small gap to get on the upper side.  However that wasn’t the end of the story as we still had to climb up some nearly vertical snow with just a few strips of ice to set protection and get some purchase with our axes.  George led this challenging section and pulled his way up and over the lip on the very right side of the bergschrund near the rock.  Ice had formed at the interface between the rock and snow that I used to set my axe and pull over the lip.

 From there it was another few hundred feet to the first ice step at 9800'.  I lead out on this pitch and we simul-climbed through it and up the mid snow section.  It was slow going up the snow gully kicking steps along the way.  The snow was super stable and easy to get great purchase on all the way up.  Eventually we made it up to the next ice step.  Both Ice steps were pretty much water ice and the second top step was perfect plastic ice making for a very enjoyable climb.

 We belayed the second ice pitch at 10600, not because it was difficult, but because we wanted to switch leads at the top of the ice pitch so George could lead to the top.  I set 5 screws on this pitch and one screw struck water like a tap.  It looked like the water flow out of it was slowing down so I left it in (it was also pretty low angle here) but George said it was still running when he cleaned it. We used eight screws on this pitch 1 at the bottom anchor, 5 on the route, 2 at the top anchor.  There was a nice sheet of ice to build an anchor on just above the step.

 From the top ice step, George lead the final 850' to the summit climbing snow slopes around and over several rock spires and bulges. It was a beautiful part of the climb and ends with pully over a nearly vertical cornice onto the summit where folks are surprised to see you pop up there. It was 9:30 when we reached the summit 5:30 after starting the route.

 We spent about 30 min on the summit getting a few photos and eating lunch.  We descended the Sunshine route to our camp.  The route down is rather circuitous, but George had it dialed and we descended quickly.  There are a couple of steeper spots that I downclimbed, but they were not too long.  This route provided great views of the Eliot headwall and the amazing routes up it.   We arrived back at camp a little before noon, 7:45 after starting the climb.

 It took us a little over any hour to break camp and get ready to ski down.  While we were breaking camp a couple of skiers circum-navigating Hood came by.  It looked like they were having fun on an interesting tour.

 The ski down was fun and the snow as pretty good.  Fortunately we were able to ski across Eliot Glacier and get up onto Cooper Spur without putting skins back on.  We continued down Cooper Spur skiing by the rock hut at 6600' and on down towards Tully Jane Cabin.  We ended up a little far skiers right (South East) and almost went down the wrong gully and had to adjust our path back into the Tully Jane Creek water shed.

 We skied down past the Tully Jane Cabin to the point we started skinning on the way up and pulled our skins off there.  We also took off our long johns as it had warmed up quite a bit.  With skis attached to our packs we continued down the trail arriving back at the car at just about 3:00. 

 We had a couple of gatorade's cooling in the snow waiting for us that tasted great.  Over all it was a fantastic climb, the route was in great shape, we made it across the bergschrund efficiently, had a fun ski down, and completed our unfinished business on the North Face of Hood.

Gear:

2 Petzl Gully tools

Hybrid crampons

60m rope

10 screws (used 8 - could have gotten away with 6-7)

2 pickets (didn't use)

2 pitons (didn't use)

5 offset nuts (didn't use)

1 #2 BD ultralight cam (didn't use)

 

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