Shane R. wrote:Hi folks,
My partners and I have plans to climb Denali this May. We have a scheduled training on Mt hood from January 2-9. These dates are pretty much set in stone because of participants plane tickets, requested time off work, etc.
I have never been to Mt Hood nor am I familiar with the routes much (yet) so I'm looking for some input. We had originally planned to spend a week on Mt Hood, pulling sleds to a base camp somewhere near the Sandy Headwall. This is where I need some advice. Is traveling with the sleds from the lodge to the base of the Sandy Headwall feasible? I have heard it's a long haul without the sleds and there two major ridges that must be crossed. What about setting up a base camp on either the Yoakum Ridge or Sandy Glacier? Our goal is to construct a bomb-proof camp complete with a cook tent from where we can head out for group activities each day, crevasse rescue, rope travel, avalanche training, summit attempt via the headwall, etc.
Is this route selection on Hood not a good idea for sled travel (in January)? Any better suggestions for routes/mountains in the Cascades for this type of thing? Thanks
Here is my 2 cents. Traveling to the base of the Sandy Headwall would be a lesson in sled managment. The crux of the Sandy Headwall is getting up and over the lower Yokum Ridge. When I did it it was steep, snow covered rock with the consistency of a loose pile of unmortared bricks. Frankly, it was kind of sketchy with out having to worry about sleds. Falling off of the lower Yokum onto the Sandy glacier would suck a whole lot.
I personally would not want to camp on the Sandy glacier. If/when the weather turns bad it makes retreat just that much harder. It is a glacier so you need to find a level spot free of crevasses far enough away from the Sandy Headwall so you are out of the runout zone of potential avalanches.
If it were me I would pull sleds to the Illumination Saddle and set up camp there. It will be much safer in regards to avalanches, there are no crevasses to worry about, and puts you in position for a quick retreat if necessary and in good proximity to the bergscrund on the south side for crevasses rescue practice, and good slopes for anchors, self arrest, avalanche pit digging and will make a day trip up the Sandy Headwall and down the South Side route right back to camp feasible if the snow/avalanche/weather conditions allow.