Senior Hood Climb
SENIORS CLIMB STORIED/LEGENDARY/FABLED MT HOOD (almost)
After they'd readujsted to post-graduation time, a group of eight seniors, accompanied by some of the finest leaders that money can buy, went up for a couple of days on "la montana."
What this trip was about:
--Bonding as a group of newly-graduated students.
--Learning about snow dynamics and snow stability.
--A lodge to ourselves
--A little bit of maybe sneaking into the kitchen for Rice Krispy Treats.
Unfortunately, this trip was also about forty mile per hour winds and sub-freezing temperatures. That can kind of slow you down when you're trying to walk up a mountain.
Once again we planned a climb for June (rather than May) as a way to take advantage of the longer days and better weather. Our group left Portland on Monday June 14th at 11:30 am and drove up toe Timberline Lodge where we got geared up for snow school. We began the school about 1:15 and ran until a bit after 5:30 pm. We began with a short course on snow stability testing and moved on to digging pits, a discussion on various methods of snow travel, self arrest, and then ropework. The weather was quite nice and we had incredible views of the mountain.
We drove down to the Mazamas Lodge and were able to park right in front, making loading and unloading a breeze. The lodge personnel were very kind and we were the only guests present. We reviewed the forecasts and looked at the telemetry from 6000’ and 7000’. Indications were that it was to be cold and breezy in the morning. Very breezy.
We woke up to even breezier forecasts and telemetry.
From the beginning, our pace was slow. The wind was strong and increased as we gained elevation. Combined with sub-freezing temperatures, the atmospheric conditions were pretty difficult. We had a long break about 500 vertical feet below the top of the Palmer, where we had a good look at the rising clouds. Conditions were deteriorating fairly quickly as wind gusts were sometimes making us unstable on our feet! We pushed onto the top of the Palmer where we were able to find respite from the wind behind the snowcut.
The leaders decided to give students an opportunity to turn around.
6 of us went up, 6 went down.
The go-downs called our amazing limosuine driver on the cell phone and went back to Mazama lodge and had a nap.
The 6 remaining climbers proceeded up through the wind. We went as high as 500 feet below the hogsback, the sunlight chasing us as we rose. The weather, boots banging shins, and the lack of psych on the potential for a summit finally go to everybody and we took a long break, listening to music and watching the clouds roll by before we decided to come down.
The descent went well (glissading galore!) after some icy moments up high. We were back at the bus in time for the afternoon snowstorm.