TRIP REPORT: Well, sometimes there's a big difference between the forecast and the nowcast. We rolled into timberline at noon with expectations of a nice conditioning slog in the snow up to the top of the Palmer chairlift. Talking to three parties in the climber room who had summited that morning, the avalanche conditions sounded uneventful. (I know, only a third of the people who climb a mountain like Hood know what to look for). Regardless, we headed up prepared to camp and climb if conditions looked good to us. And they did. I'm pretty convinced that the south side of Mt. Hood is well on it's way to consolodation for the summer. IMHO, there is no slab waiting for a climax avalanche to release.
Conditions were near ideal. We camped on the East side of the Triangle Morain at 9,200' and went up the Old Chute from the Hogs Back and summited at 6:30am. The Bergschrund is well open with a snow bridge accross the middle. We talked to teams who reported the Pearly Gates as steep and icy, but that's really a realative thing so I don't have a direct report. There was an oreganized group of 8 (Mazamas?) that summited right behind us (one team of 5 up the Old Chute and one team of 3 up the Pearly Gates). The Old Chute route had a well established highway from Hogs Back to the steep section and from the top out to the summit. There wasn't very much ice/rock coming off the cliffs that early, but I wouldn't want to be under them after ~ 9:00am going up or down.
I really beleive that the recipe for avalanche conditions was in place this weekend in the south cascades, but I'm also glad that I checked it out myself was able to get in a thoroughly enjoyable climb. I would not substitute a random climber blog on conditions for (http://www.nwac.us/
). Avalanches are serious business and I hope everyone takes this as route beta and not a green light to climb Mt. Hood without understanding what to look for and how to evaluate risks for yourself. Even more important on this front is to recognize when the forecast is more optimistic than the nowcast and knowing when to back off.