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+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2011 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  December 2011 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  12/4/2011, McNeil Point Mt Hood
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Author Topic: 12/4/2011, McNeil Point Mt Hood  (Read 2123 times)

Posts: 242

12/4/2011, McNeil Point Mt Hood
« on: 12/05/11, 12:07 PM »

I wasn't certain what to expect for ski terrain until I got there, but this tour was most all hike for little turns in variable conditions less than favorable for my ability. Still, what an incredible place and the views are outstanding, I have been eyeing access to this area to see it in winter yet before the access roads get fully snowed under. With my stock 4x4 jeep, we were able to drive within ~2 miles of the top spur trailhead... much thanks to the local monster truck community who basically plowed and 4wheeled the road a few days prior.

We skinned up the road for a bit then struck cross country, in retrospect this did not save any time since when we intersected the PCT and Timberline trail they are still clearly visible under snow and easy to follow. So began the long uphill hike to McNeil Point.

about 5200 feet elevation we left the trail, skinned across a small ski-able slope gained the ridge and set out along the ridge line proper. I have never been to the shelter in summer, but I understand there is an unmarked user trail here, but this was not to be found. We skinned as high as we could, the switched to boot packing as we scrambled and skirted around the rocky bluff climbers right until we found a small steep couloir providing easy passage through the rocks taking us right to the shelter. The views here are incredible, Mt Hood is not so little anymore (compared to the south route) with jagged Yocum ridge massively towering above us, the impressive Sandy glacier and the cliffs leading into the Muddy Fork canyon impressively huge and dramatic.

I was hoping to explore this area for ski lines, but we had been hiking longer than there was daylight left and our energy was running low as we booted uphill above the shelter to ski the one small line we saw lower down that would let us traverse around easily back to the Timberline trail.

Originally I was hoping to climb McNeil ridge high enough to gain views of he Glisan Glacier and then find and ski a line into the McGee basin, but we were committed now to a short run with SW aspect. Snow conditions were thin, well consolidated with wind packed powder lower on the slope, pockets of WPP above with ice underneath... and ice patches to ski around/avoid... I don't ski so well on ice but the packed powder was fun and left me wanting more.

roughly 75% of the ski out was gliding on skins saving much time and energy, both of which we were out of. We saved even more time skiing down the Top Spur trail (instead of our uphill XC route) but we still didn't get back to the jeep until dark. It was a long tour with little skiing yet the good weather and magnificent views made this worth it, I don't think I will consider this area until next year when the roads melt out spring touring might yeild different options.

One of the smaller fun points of this tour was the animal tracks, we were in constant company of coyote prints and encountered two bear tracks, deer, and some bird tracks all over McNeil ridge that I think are wild  turkeys... yet I wish just once I would see some of these critters but makes sense with all the clacking of Fritchis and my friends splitboard bindings and conversation they be long gone.

*edit to add another photo... too many to choose from Smiley
« Last Edit: 12/05/11, 12:36 PM by Koda » Logged

lightweight, cheap, strong... pick 2

Posts: 262

Re: 12/4/2011, McNeil Point Mt Hood
« Reply #1 on: 12/05/11, 01:09 PM »

Great TR Koda. Sounds like very similar conditions to what we experienced in 2005.

Sorry I missed it.

Posts: 479

Re: 12/4/2011, McNeil Point Mt Hood
« Reply #2 on: 12/05/11, 05:12 PM »

Nice photos - looks like a fun area for an overnight.  I'd love to get in there sometime, maybe spring or early summer if access allows.....thanks for sharing!

There is nothing more practical in the end than the preservation of beauty." - Theodore Roosevelt
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