Let's climb hood!
i'm sorry i don't have many pictures of the way up, but my camera is broken so i borrowed cascadian's small camera for the summit and descent (yes, he brought his big slr and small digital). because of this, the pictures are spread out through the story even though i didn't take them at that time.
summit ridge looking east
thursday evening i get a call from cascadian asking if i want to climb hood on saturday. i was planning on climbing at index but i figured that can wait another week as hood sounded fun. the weather forecast was for clear and sunny for the whole weekend. we figured that there would be a lot of people but that's you get for climbing hood on the south side, right?
friday afternoon chico (cascadian) and colin left from somewhere like yakima and murray and i left from seattle. traffic was horrible and it took colin and i 7 hours to get to the timberline lodge parking lot. our plan was to arrive early and sleep a few hours, leaving at 1:00 am passing any people ahead of us. we arrived at 11:00 pm and packed our bags so we could just get up and go. the parking lot was already filling up and the people parked next to us had a campfire roaring in the middle of a parking space and the car stereo cranked with the into the wild soundtrack blaring. chico and colin arrived much earlier and bivied at the top of the palmer lift to take pictures of sunset.
we drank some beer, climbed into our sleeping bags and tried to sleep. 10 minutes later i got up to pee and watched a team of 15 hit the slopes. 10 minutes after that, i had to pee and watched 36 MORE people head up the slopes. right then i woke up murray and said, "lets go!"
so the day begins.
the slog began uneventfully and murray and i passes a few groups within the first few minutes. but fairly quickly murray began to slow down. tow weeks prior, murray and colin (who are brothers) ran the tacoma marathon. they both thought they had recovered enough but it turns out it takes a bit linger to recover than they thought. Anyway, an hour and a half after we left, murray and i found chico and colin at their bivy. we sat in the cold as they packed they stuff for the climb.
there isn't much to talk about when it comes to ascending to the hogsback. it was dark, there were a constant stream of headlamps heading up the cat-tract below us and the mountain was still hidden in the darkness. but it eventually grew lighter and the mountain began to revel it's rime covered cliffs. before long we were at the hogsback. things were going well so far, aside from a slower than normal pace, which caused use to get caught up in the middle of a couple of big groups (we had originally planned on passing them).
The hogsback was a fiasco. there were roped parties crossing over to the old chute. parties coming up the west crater rim route and people going everywhere. when we first arrived i counted 43 people. we watched as everyone dodged icefall from people above and prepared for the bowling alley we were about to enter.
too many people... and this was a small amount compared to other times of the day
chico, colin and murray decided to cross to the old chute as high as possible and i decided i wanted to avoid the slow rope teams and run across lower. after waiting for the rime cliffs to dump a load, i ran across the slope as fast as i could. as soon as i made it to the other side the rime cliffs let out a nice sized icefall. glad i was safe, i looked up to see a shower of smaller ice chunks flying at me form the people above. the next 10 minutes were filled with people yelling "ICE!" or "BIG ICE!!!" and me ducking my head into the slope to block the ice with my backpack and helmet. but this experience lasted on a few minutes and i was soon at the top of the chute watching the rest of my team ascend the slope of icefall.
soon enough everyone was through the bowling alley and we were on the summit with 500,000,000 other people.
this is when things started getting sketchy. although too many people had already hit the summit, the largest clump of people was just getting to the hogsback when we left the summit. by the time we actually got around to descending, the chute was filled with people. luckily they were all descending so icefall wouldn't be much of a problem.
assuming the "ICE!!!" position
we started down behind the team and soon realized that a large group of them were scared out of their minds and descending about 3 steps a minute. as soon as we got right behind the team, a few rope teams started traversing above us dumping loads of rime onto our heads. quickly i realized we were going to have to go around the slow team and that they were going to have to put up with some small amount if icefall from us. we moved as fast as we could, basically running down to the right of them (the snow was perfect for cramponing down). as we passed them one lady screamed wildy, "YOU SHOULDN'T DO THAT YOU'RE GOING TO KILL US WITH YOUR ICEFALL!" being that we were already below her and hadn't knocked anything down on them (the snow was snice and didn't flake off where were traversed to) we kept going while they kept yelling expletives at us. it was apparent that the rope team wasn't mad at us, but just scared out of their minds and didn't know what else to do in the situation.
once well below the slow rope team, i took the same path back across to the hogsback i had used earlier in the morning, lower than the well worn bootpath of slow rope teams. since it was a bit liter than when we crossed under the cliffs before, more rime was dumping down the slopes. i ran across again having to wait through two volleys of baseball sized rime chunks. but soon enough i was at the hogsback where i took off my pack and waited for the rest of my friends as they crossed behind a few slow groups. the few pieces of ice that the morning sent down were now constant barrages of ice block, some even the size of softballs and basketballs.
thankfully, the rest of my team made it and we took a break and watched the circus in front of us.
i don't really have much to say about the trip below the hogsback as it was uneventful and a slog.
i don't ever want to climb on the south side of mt hood again. i saw more stupid things happening on the mountain than i have in the past three years. people stopped to talk under sections of icefall and laughed when large blocks of ice nearly missed their heads. people roped together in teams of 12, spacing themselves 10' apart, all looking unstable and ready to cry. people mindlessly kicked down ice when it was unnecessary, people stashed their backpacks right next to a fumarole which was also in the middle of the path of icefall. people dropped things down to the fumaroles and went and retrieved them, stepping within feet of doom. people glissaded with crampons. people yelled at each other because they weren't roped up or were moving too fast. it was a zoo.
i had never climbed hood before but had heard of all the stories. now i can say that what people say is true... the mountain is overcrowded and there are too many people who climb there unprepared. and by unprepared i mean lacking the skills to move efficiently in diverse mountain conditions.
when someone has a problem on the mountain, their problem becomes everyone else's. if someone breaks their face because of icefall, someone has to go rescue them. and a rescue mean people putting their lives in dangerous situations, exposure to the same hazard that caused the initial injury. but people were climbing as if the only thing that mattered was themselves.
there were a lot of people on the mountain that were competent and skilled. they took the necessary precautions to climb safely and efficiently. but for every one of those people it seemed there were two or three who were reckless and arrogant.
the mountains deserve more respect than being treated like a playground. it disgusted me to see people take things so lightly.
i want to climb hood again, but this time from the north. i don't think i'll ever go to the south side again. anyway, on that note i thought this picture looked funny... the glissaded the whole way down like this, scrunched up into little balls.
the glissade train