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Mt Hood (south side route) / late start time questions

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Mt Hood (south side route) / late start time questions

Postby JDurrie » Fri May 12, 2017 4:19 am

Hi,

Planning on climbing Hood later this month with a friend of a friend who wants to take the Palmer lift at 8am to start the climb. Ive never been up Hood but have some climbing experience and such a late start time sounds like a bad idea. Hearing it's been pretty warm up there... Even with cooler weather, would such a late start ever be a good idea? Hearing he climbs the mountain several times a year but...
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Re: Mt Hood (south side route) / late start time questions

Postby Bark Eater » Fri May 12, 2017 4:24 pm

You are correct. Going that late increases the risk of rockfall. Good idea to go early.
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Re: Mt Hood (south side route) / late start time questions

Postby DukeJH » Fri May 12, 2017 7:37 pm

Last July we left Timberline Lodge around 4 AM and were bombarded by rock and icefall on our descent to the Hogsback.
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Re: Mt Hood (south side route) / late start time questions

Postby ExcitableBoy » Fri May 12, 2017 10:14 pm

The standard time leaving Timberline seems to be somewhere between 12:00 midnight and 2:00 AM. Riding the lifts really doesn't cut much time off, maybe an hour or so, and they start running quite late.

I think the snow cats get an earlier start than the lifts. I recall a couple of times reaching the Silcox hut (on foot or skis) and taking a break, just when a snow cat arrived and the passengers disembarked. It was definitely quite early, maybe 3:00 or 4:00 AM. That would be a much better alternative. Most of the time when climbing a south side route (Sandy Glacier Headwall, Yocum Ridge, Reid Glacier Headwall, Luethold Couloir, the standard route) I arrived at the summit right around sunrise, so I was below Illumination Rock before it warmed up enough to foment ice fall.

If your friend really doesn't want to hike the extra hour, I would recommend looking into booking a snow cat. Or, make it a two day trip and camp at Illumination saddle. That would be a neat experience and that spot is pretty well protected by rock fall. Bring a shovel to dig a tent platform.
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Re: Mt Hood (south side route) / late start time questions

Postby Puma concolor » Fri May 12, 2017 11:43 pm

Another option is a late afternoon ride on the Palmer lifts. Pack a tent, camp somewhere nearby and get an alpine start.
“What a waste it is to lose one's mind, or not to have a mind is being very wasteful, how true that is.” - Dan Quayle
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Re: Mt Hood (south side route) / late start time questions

Postby ExcitableBoy » Fri May 12, 2017 11:52 pm

Puma concolor wrote:Another option is a late afternoon ride on the Palmer lifts. Pack a tent, camp somewhere nearby and get an alpine start.


I think you can even book a night's stay at the Silcox hut, which is the terminus of the lifts. Kind of expensive and involved for a route that has been ascended from the parking lot to the summit in 35 minutes: http://komonews.com/news/local/oregon-m ... -snow-kite.
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Re: Mt Hood (south side route) / late start time questions

Postby JDurrie » Sat May 13, 2017 12:08 am

Yeah, not sure why the reluctance to climb from the lot early. Thanks for the advice.
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Re: Mt Hood (south side route) / late start time questions

Postby JDurrie » Sat May 13, 2017 12:31 am

DukeJH wrote:Last July we left Timberline Lodge around 4 AM and were bombarded by rock and icefall on our descent to the Hogsback.

Bark Eater wrote:You are correct. Going that late increases the risk of rockfall. Good idea to go early.


That said, we're planning on climbing in late May and it sounds like there's good snowpack this year though it's warmer than usual. Wouldn't there be more avalanche and crevasse danger over rock fall with late starts this Spring?
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Re: Mt Hood (south side route) / late start time questions

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sat May 13, 2017 8:02 pm

JDurrie wrote:
DukeJH wrote:Last July we left Timberline Lodge around 4 AM and were bombarded by rock and icefall on our descent to the Hogsback.

Bark Eater wrote:You are correct. Going that late increases the risk of rockfall. Good idea to go early.


That said, we're planning on climbing in late May and it sounds like there's good snowpack this year though it's warmer than usual. Wouldn't there be more avalanche and crevasse danger over rock fall with late starts this Spring?


There are no crevasses on the standard South Side route. There is a bergschrund below the Pearly Gates that has swallowed a number of teams though, time of day has little to do with the risk associated with it. Certainly avalanches are a concern as is rock fall. Why start so late? Do you guys need beauty sleep? Is walking an extra hour too much for you? You've been offered a number of viable alternatives (taking a snowcat, riding the lift and camping or sleeping in the Silcox hut), is there some reason for starting so late?

Climbing mountains are dangerous. You have to play by the mountain's rules to tip the balance in your favor. Climbers don't leave the parking lot at 12 midnight because they enjoy not sleeping, they do it to mitigate the objective hazards inherent to climbing mountains like Mt. Hood. Mt. Hood has already had one fatality on the SS route this season. If you are not willing to make a small concession like staring your climb early or camping high on the mountain, then maybe you should take up a less demanding hobby.
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Re: Mt Hood (south side route) / late start time questions

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sun May 14, 2017 1:10 am

Interesting article on climbing Mt. Hood: http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index ... spect.html
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Re: Mt Hood (south side route) / late start time questions

Postby Bark Eater » Sun May 14, 2017 2:03 pm

More detail on the May 7 accident. Mountains demand respect or bad things can happen:
http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-north ... er_wa.html
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