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| | |-+  May 25, 2015, Mt. Hood, Old Chute/West Crater Rim
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Author Topic: May 25, 2015, Mt. Hood, Old Chute/West Crater Rim  (Read 751 times)
HansCovington
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May 25, 2015, Mt. Hood, Old Chute/West Crater Rim
« on: 05/29/15, 12:41 PM »

Headed out last Sunday with my new pal dholcs with the goal to climb and ski Hood via the Old Chute/West Crater rim.

With overcast weather in Portland and rain/fog/garbage between Sandy and Government Camp, things seemed questionable. Driving up the Timberline access road, conditions suddenly changed and I arrived in the Climber's Lot with a clear, starry sky overhead. Hit the trail at 3 AM sharp, with the first 10 minutes or so being on dirt, before we hit the snow line and slapped on the skis. The Magic Mile gully seems to be the best ascent route at the moment, but there's definitely a healthy amount of snow cat traffic that time of the morning.

Hit Crater Rock around sunrise and enjoyed a pretty good show with Jefferson and the Sisters visible above the clouds then continued on up to the Hogback and assessed conditions.



With the low snow year, the crevasses/fumaroles in the Hot Rocks area and definitely larger (and stinkier) than usual. The Old Chute was looking decent, but had a lot of wet slide debris and runnels from glissaders.

Shortly after this photo was taken, we witnessed our first fall of the day, with a climber losing their footing - and axe - halfway up the Old Chute and taking an unpleasant looking ride. Thankfully he stopped short of the fumarole and seemed to be ok.




With that drama out of the way, we continued on up to the ridge connecting the Old Chute to the summit, enjoying some nice solid 35 or 40 degree snow climbing up the last few hundred feet.


The traverse over to the summit is a tad "sporty"...


With two fall options, neither appealing...


On to the mellow traverse over to the proper summit


Summit


A quick peep over the north side from a safe position


And now for the downhill. We killed a good hour or more on top waiting for the Old Chute to soften. While we were waiting at the top of the Old Chute, we saw ANOTHER climber fall, headed right for the fumarole. One of the scarier events I've witnessed in awhile, but here again, luck was on their side and they stopped short of the big black hole. Wow.

Anyway, the first hundred feet was still bulletproof survival skiing, before it finally softened completely.


Traversed a bit across West Crater Rim and behind Crater Rock before catching an outstanding steeper pitch down onto the Zig Zag glacier




All in all, turned out to be a fantastic day capped off with 5000 feet of corn back to the car.

Items of Note:
- The level of foolishness on Mt. Hood never ceases to amaze me. Lots of uneducated or unprepared folks roped up with no protection, using ice axes incorrectly, even belaying off of accessory cord tied around their waists (not kidding). So very glad the two falls we saw didn't end up worse...be careful out there.
- We carried a rope/pickets/slings for protection, but didn't feel the need to use them. A Whippet for the ski descent was definitely worthwhile, as were ski crampons for the ascent between Palmer and Crater Rock.
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