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| | |-+  December 12, 2005, Mt Hood, McNeil Point Face
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Author Topic: December 12, 2005, Mt Hood, McNeil Point Face  (Read 4675 times)
Jeff Huber
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December 12, 2005, Mt Hood, McNeil Point Face
« on: 12/18/05, 04:09 PM »



Summary:
This tour was a unique adventure. Taking advantage of an usual access situation we explored a place rarely visited in winter and got excellent views of Mt Hood's west and northwest sides. Our high point was near the top of the triangular face above McNeil Point on the northwest flank of Mt Hood. It overlooks the Sandy and Glisan glaciers, and is the point at which Cathedral Ridge becomes a defined alpine ridgeline that runs towards the summit rim. Turns were a bit limited on this tour, but exploration and novelty more than made up for it.  

Full TR:
We started from Lolo Pass, 3440', which is usually inaccessible in winter, however a logging company had to retrieve equipment and plowed Lolo Pass road on December 9th (Andy and Ann discovered this from the USFS when they went to get a Christmas tree permit). We arrived at the pass at 7:30, greeted by temperatures in the low teens, a chilling wind and low-level clouds obscuring the mtn. We headed off on McGee Creek road to get on the McGee Creek trail. A few hundred feet past the sign labeled McGee Creek trail, we lost the narrow summer trail and had a slight bushwhack until we gained the broad ridge were the dotted McGee Trail is on the USGS topo. The actual summer trail is apparently below this road. From here our route was pretty easy to follow. The logging road soon lead us back into the forest putting us right on (or very close to) the McGee Creek trail which we followed in the general direction of until it intersected with the Timberline trail.

As we got closer to the Timberline trail we encountered a very interesting change in the forest. The trees became devoid of lower branches and there were no underbrush. I can not recall anywhere in the PNW were I've seen a forest like this. I've started a thread on TTips to identity the tree type here. These were perfect trees for skiing, though the pitch was a bit moderate.

Once on the Timberline trail we were back in a denser, typical PNW forest, and we followed the defined ridgeline towards McNeil Point. The trail here was bumpy, crusty and icy, and except for a few viewpoints towards the end of the ridge, it was mostly viewless. The viewpoints, however, offered grand views of the Sandy Glacier. We turned off the Timberline trail below McNeil Point and headed upwards eventually coming to the large bowl which represented the triangular face above McNeil Point on the topo map. We skinned up and across this bowl getting a spectacular view of the Sandy glacier and its precipitous headwall. We then skinned up the ridge and back across the face, putting us a bit below the top of the triangle's highpoint. Here we were able to see both the Sandy and Glisan glacier, Cathedral ridge, and the jagged ridge and cluster of spires which flank (and blocked our view of) the Ladd glacier.

This was a beautiful alpine setting but limited daylight was a concern. It was now 2PM and we had only a few hours of daylight to get over 5 1/2 miles back to our car, thru rolling and flat unfamiliar terrain with portions of difficult, crusty and bumpy snow conditions and some traveling thru a dense forest. I was comforted when I remembered I did have my cell phone, so even if we did get stuck in the forest all night I would be able to call my Petsitter so she could feed and take care of my cats for the night (that last sentence was a joke ;)).

We skied down the bowl, were snow consisted of wind-compacted powder, and followed our tracks into the forest, snowplowing, pushing, sidestepping and waddling, back to the car. Towards the end of McGree creek road, a few minutes from the car, we looked behind us and there was Mt Hood cast in a brilliant orange sunset glow with wisps of clouds at its base. It was 5:15. A few hours later we met up with Tena, Aaron's girlfriend, and were eating Pizza in downtown Portland.

This was a fine outing that I'm glad we did. The views and the feelings from being in a remote alpine location will last for a while.

Photos:
Aaron skining in the mysterious forest of trees without lower branches
Our first mostly clear view of the mtn, 4 miles from the car  along the ridge of the Timberline trail. Blue arrow is our rough high point.
Near our high point the Glisan glacier (left), Catherderal Ridge (center ridgline going right) and the Sandy glacier (right)
Aaron skiing Andy skiing;
Our final view of Mt Hood as the sunset
« Last Edit: 12/18/05, 06:38 PM by Gaper_Jeffey » Logged

stoudema
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Re: December 12, 2005, Mt Hood, McNeil Point Face
« Reply #1 on: 12/19/05, 03:36 AM »

Nice report Jeff.  It's nice to see a report from a seldom visited area on Mt. Hood.  Great pictures as well.  I should probably respond on TTips about the trees, but those look like Hemlocks.  I've spent many days in the Willamette Pass area and Hemlocks are prevalent on that mountain.  The pics are a bit far away, but the trees look very similar.........correct branching, flat needles, similar bark, etc.
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There is nothing more practical in the end than the preservation of beauty." - Theodore Roosevelt
Jeff Huber
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Posts: 771


Re: December 12, 2005, Mt Hood, McNeil Point Face
« Reply #2 on: 12/19/05, 04:16 AM »

Quote
I should probably respond on TTips about the trees, but those look like Hemlocks.  I've spent many days in the Willamette Pass area and Hemlocks are prevalent on that mountain.

Thanks, and no problem helping identify the trees here. I just posed the question on TTips because I thought there was a lot of forest-types there.
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ron j
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Re: December 12, 2005, Mt Hood, McNeil Point Face
« Reply #3 on: 12/19/05, 05:31 AM »

Nice report, Jeff.
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"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." - Niels Bohr
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powscraper
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Posts: 403


Re: December 12, 2005, Mt Hood, McNeil Point Face
« Reply #4 on: 12/19/05, 05:38 AM »

Very nice.  I spent a lot of time hiking those trails and exploring those ridges back in college.  Those are fantastic hikes in the summer and fall.  People go over north to Barret Spur to ski too, no?
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Jeff Huber
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Re: December 12, 2005, Mt Hood, McNeil Point Face
« Reply #5 on: 12/19/05, 06:56 AM »

Quote
 People go over north to Barret Spur to ski too, no?

Yup. Barret Spur has great skiing though access is a bit protracted.
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AndyP
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Posts: 46


Re: December 12, 2005, Mt Hood, McNeil Point Face
« Reply #6 on: 12/19/05, 02:47 PM »

Nice report and pictures, Jeff.  Too bad we were not able to stay longer in the area around McNeil Point.
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ricardo
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Posts: 13


Re: December 12, 2005, Mt Hood, McNeil Point Face
« Reply #7 on: 12/20/05, 02:28 PM »

Nice pics, Jeff!  Sounds like a great outing!
About the trees...
The most likely options are Noble Fir, Hemlock (that elev is near the western and mountain transition), White Pine or Grand Fir.  The crown looks like classic Noble Fir but the bark looks more like White Pine or Grand Fir.  My money would still be on Noble.  The comparison photo is mostly Doug Fir (Pseudotsuga menzesii) with what looks like a White Pine in the lower left.  Of course I haven't been out in the PNW woods  in a while.  btw, bark is a very effective way to ID a tree.
That looks like quite a healthy old growth forest:  open canopy and well spaced trees.  The crowns are rounded and not pointy which indicate age (and growth rate).  
I'm sure y'all know this, but where the lichen stops (about 6' above snow in the picture) indicates average high level snowpack depth.  I was blown away in Newton Creek last Feb. when the lichen level was 12' overhead!
Keep the OR TR's coming...I'm living vicariously through you all.

sorry for the obnoxious link, but if you have larger versions of the pics, compare them with the photos here [url]http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.chelanschools.org/hs/
activities/ffa/Other%2520FFA%2520pages/CDE%2520Files/CDE%2520Photo%2520Gallery/
western%2520conifers/thumbnails/Noble%2520Fir%2520Bark_jpg.jpg&imgrefurl=http://
www.chelanschools.org/hs/activities/ffa/Other%2520FFA%2520pages/CDE%2520Files/
CDE%2520Photo%2520Gallery/western%2520conifers/index.htm&h=100&w=33&sz=2&
tbnid=2gkMyvUixfsJ:&tbnh=77&tbnw=25&hl=en&start=5&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dnoble%
2Bfir%2Bbark%2B%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D[/url]

edit:
yikes!  i didn't realize my link would distort the page this much.  is there any way to imbed a link within text?
i cut it up for the time being.
lo siento
« Last Edit: 12/22/05, 07:11 PM by ricardo » Logged
snowdogs
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Posts: 12


Re: December 12, 2005, Mt Hood, McNeil Point Face
« Reply #8 on: 12/21/05, 05:08 AM »

nice pictures. They reminded me of when were in that area about 3 years ago, when we circumnavigated Mt Hood on skis, clockwise from Timberline. The northwest corner of Mount Hood feels very wild, even in summer. About as far from Meadows as you can get I suppose!
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