Mt Hood North

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Mt Hood climb (sunshine route):
1999 July 31st Sat to August 1st Sunday.

Our meeting time was at 7:30am at a house just pass the little
town called Wemme (after Sandy) on Hwy26 to Mt Hood.

I was there little early since I was worried that I would be late.
Well I was the first to be there. Soon after I got there,
Cliff, Rhona, and Claire also arrived.

Cliff is a firefighter and looked pretty strong. Rhona is visiting
from Scotland and is an accountant. She was also a strong climber.
Claire is an intern and was helping Doug and also learning.

I was lightly packed and carried only what I thought was absolutely
necessary. Our plan was to start from the north of the
mountain and carry all of our stuff over the summit to the
south side. Therefore I thought that one less pound could make
a big difference.

We took two cars to North: Cliff’s truck and Rhona’s car. In addition
to our own personal stuff we shared some of the group equipment.
Some of this group equipment are for emergencies only and often
are not used, but we have to carry them anyway. We parked at a
place called “cloud camp”. There were some other people there
walking up the slopes and skiing down.

pix from 1999hood2Here is the Cloud Camp parking lot

pix from 1999hood2Off we go!

We started about 11AM and we were at the base camp site at about
2:30pm.  The parking lot is at about ~5800ft and the first camp
site is at ~8000ft.

pix from 1999hood2Rhona looking back.

pix from 1999hood2Summit in the distance.

pix from 1999hood2Taking a break on the way up to the basecamp.

Glen was at the base camp waiting/camping. I knew Glen from Mt Adams climb
a year earlier. He works with the forest service and checks
peoples permits, helps with emergencies, etc. He is a close
friend of Doug’s and they exchanged lot of insider stories that
afternoon.

There was lot of snow where we camped, but there was a dry
patch of area where people built some kind of shelter with rocks.
we used this area to sleep and cook.

The dinner was Doug’s standard pesto-pasta dish, which tasted pretty
good to me. We also melted snow to fill our water bottles here.

pix from 1999hood2Cliff, Rhona, Doug, and Glen

pix from 1999hood2Nev

pix from 1999hood2Rhona and Doug

It was a slow afternoon with nothing to do. We took a short hike to nearby ridge to see
a beautiful view. Actually this place had a beautiful view of all
the other peaks in the area. It feels good to have the horizon
line well below where it should be. Alas, places like this is
pretty harsh for humans to live.

So we went to bed at about 9pm. It wasn’t cold for me because I had a good sleeping bag, but I was
not able to sleep for a long time. Because there was a constant
wind that became stronger, or at times totally died down and was
making a lot of noise.

pix from 1999hood2Nev

We got up at 2:30am and spent about an hour and a half to pack
everything to get ready. While we were getting ready, Doug
checked the snow and said “the snow should have frozen, but it didn’t”.
he was not ready to abort the climb, but was wary of this fact.

I was worried that he would cancel the climb. We did not summit in the previous climb to Mt Jefferson and it takes a lot of time and effort to prepare for the climb. It is always tricky to make a judgement between the safety and the goal of getting to the summit.

There was not a full-moon, but there was a lot of moonlight. In
fact I could see pretty well without any headlamp, and so I did
not need to turn on the head-lamp after we started climbing.

We didn’t put the crampons on when we started. Because when the
snow is soft, it can ball up underneath the crampons and cause
problems. Since there was no advantage in putting them on, we
didn’t. However we roped up like this: Doug, Rhona, Me, Cliff,
and Claire.

pix from 1999hood2Sunset

pix from 1999hood2Claire

First we climbed straight up towards the peak, to the top of
a snow dome. When we were up 3 quarters of the way, the snow
was getting harder, and Doug asked us to put our crampons on.
Since this was on a slope, I had hard time putting my crampons on.
This hill was about 1000ft high and took almost an hour to get to the
top.

Then we started moving sideways and gaining altitude. There
were number of crevasses in this area and some rock-fall. I had to
keep watching for rocks falling down from the mountain, some big
some small. It was like playing dodge-ball. We needed to move
quickly to get out of this area.
We were walking on a narrow ridge towards the west. On our right
hand side was the mountain sloping down, on our left side was the
crevass about 4 feet wide deep into the mountain.

pix from 1999hood2Getting ready to sleep

We continued to walk on this narrow ridge and this was fine, however
at some point, Doug reached the end of the crevasse and
there was no place to go.

Doug hammered in a spike into the slope at his
shoulder level. I wasn’t sure at this point what he was
trying to do, since above him the slope was at about 70 degrees.
After connecting the rope to the spike, he proceeded to
climb that steep slope. While I was thinking that there is no
way I could climb up that steep slope, Rhona was already there and started to
do the same. Than it was my turn. I pushed the handle of my ice axe into
the snow as far as it would go, and I was basically hanging
from it pulling myself up the steep hill.

Just when I was thinking that this wasn’t too bad, I noticed that the snow turned into
an ice. Doug told me that I should use the pick of the axe, which I had
never used before. This icy section was about 30 to 50 feet long.
On top of this steep section was a fairly flat platform where
we all came together.
It was exactly 7AM at this time, because an alarm on my watch
started beeping. While I was trying to turn off this
nuisance, Doug joked by saying “answer the phone nev: “falling!”".

pix from 1999hood2Rocky ridge to the real summit

Soon after we started again, the sun came up. We climbed
steadily the rest of the ridge getting to the top at about
8:30am. This was a pretty long and hard climb for me and I was
sweating like crazy.

From here to the real summit, there was a ridge about few
hundred feet long. It was not covered with any snow, but there
were lots of loose rocks, we needed to be careful. Large drop off
was on both sides. It took about half an hour to get to the
real summit.

It was very windy at the summit, and we didn’t stay too long.
We took few pictures, and proceeded with our return trip to south side.
Glen was at the summit already. He had passed us before we got to the
technical section.

pix from 1999hood2Summit 1

pix from 1999hood2Summit 2

pix from 1999hood2Summit 3

pix from 1999hood2Summit 4

The return trip on the south side was not dangereous, but took a long time. We were
at the Timberline parking lot at about noon. Towards the end of the return trip
the sun was getting high, and therefore the valleys were getting
really hot. I was getting really tired. However, the good thing
is that I didn’t get any blisters on my feet.

pix from 1999hood2Coming Down

As soon as I got home at about 3PM, I opened up an ice-cold home-brewed
beer, and beer never tasted so good!

One thing I have to mention is that most of the trip I had a
stomach ache. I don’t know if this was due to the altitude, or
because of the sulfur fumes that comes up from the south side
continuously. Also while I was using the ice axe on the
icy section, I hurt my left shoulder a little bit. My left
shoulder hurt for many months after the climb.

To sum up, this was a memorable and fun trip.

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