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I knew it was going to be an almost sleepless weekend to begin with. I was going to try to combine rock climbing and mountaineering in one weekend, which is something you can do in Oregon. After having a stretch of 45 out of 49 days being rainy in Portland (and snowy in the mountains), followed by a week of sun and hopeful snow consolidation, things seemed optimistic.
Friday night I did not get to bed until about midnight thirty and then had to drive to Salem to pick up my climbing partner so was up at 4:30 am to get up and ready, get her and get to Smith Rock. When we got to the parking lot there it was 21 degrees. Met up with Mark and Natasha
and while they went down to the rock, we headed to Redpoint Climbing Supply to hang out and wait til it warmed up.
Well, when we started hiking down to Morning Glory Wall where the sun was, it was 10:30 am and probably only 30 degrees. But once we got down there, found Mark and Natasha, we then found some "warm" rock in the sun and got some routes in. Warmed up on the nice mellow Easy Reader, then did Revelations 5.9 on the Testament Wall. (Now, the first bolt is about 20 feet up so I placed a stopper midway so can I now say I lead 5.9 trad? :- ) ?) We ended up top-roping Barbeque the Pope (10b) and playing around in the crack left of it. Needless to say, I hung on the Pope alot. I should be able to do a 10b sport route but I was spanked.
Headed back at sunset, dropped my friend off and made it home by about 8:30 pm. I still had to prepare my pack and get some stuff at the store before heading to Hood.
Got to bed about 9:30 and was up at 12:30 am. Dkantola was at my house at 1 am and then we headed to Timberline to attempt the Steel Cliffs route with cjwhat
and his friend, Doug. Met up with them at Timberline and started up about 3:45 am in rain
. We cruised up to the top of the Palmer with several parties descending due to the weather. Little did they know that the weather was clear and calm at about 9000 feet on up.
At the snowcat track, cjwhat and Doug decided to go the South Side route. With the full moon now visible in the west and setting, David and I went over and descended into the White River Glacier after roping up. Had to find an uncorniced spot from the Palmer to do so. Once over to the base of the ridge below the Cliffs, we headed up to the second gully.
Once we reached a flat spot, we rested and then I belayed David over to a bit of rock where he made an anchor un an area just clear of falling ice and rock. From there, he led up a shallow rock groove/chimney about 10 feet high. I heard him say when he got out of it, "That was 5th class." Then there was a short vertical snow section and he shortly made the next anchor.
I cleaned the anchor and heard David say something like, "You're not going to be happy when you see the anchor. Just don't fall." Grrreeaat. Which was not something I wanted to hear especially when I got over to the rock groove. As I reached to put my left hand on the rock, I suddenly saw about a foot of it slide/ooze down about 4 inches. My "rock" was not so much actual rock. Luckily I was looking down at the moment a baseball-sized chunk of ice hit my helmet dead center. This was awesome (not). I groveled my way up that section and the snow one and tried not to look at the anchor that had been set. I just did not want to know. If the rest of the route was going to be like the 30 feet I had just done, this was going to take all day and we were not going to make the summit.
From there, I led a traverse over to where the actual ramp starts. I'm not sure my anchor of equalized tools plus one picket was much better than the previous one but at least once around the ramp, it looked like more of a snow climb ahead for us.
David led up a pitch to a flat spot by a rock and it was getting close to noon already. We drank a little and I had some Gu and we debated whether to unrope or do running belays. The angle was about 45 degrees here but I was feeling nervous so I wanted running belays. I led out and David reminded me to try to run it out as much as possible before placing any pro to try to make better time.
The first section I did run the whole 30 meter rope out and placed a picket, no problems. Then I came to a section of the ramp that just totally sucked. It was a rockfield covered by a thinner layer of ice/snow that was mostly melted under. Most of the the time, it just buckled under my foot and I dropped in a foot or so. A lot of the time, I was just banging it with a sideways axe to chop it away and scramble up the rock underneath. Sometimes it was just rock which is always fun in crampons. What it REALLY was was slow, crawling progress. I know I placed 2 pickets, a tri-cam, a nut and one piton and pretty much ran the rope between all the pieces so that was about 500 feet before I had to make an anchor again with my axes and the last picket.
From here, David led a short pitch of better snow to where we topped out on the ramp and could now see the Hogsback and the Cliffs. David led a traverse of running belays to our right where we had to climb over the top of the cliff to the other side where we would join up with the Wy'East route to the summit. Problem was, it was now late afternoon and the route to the summit was a long traverse followed by a 55 degree gully. Then we'd have to descend the South Side route. I said we were bailing off the Wy'East route as we only had about 2 hours of sunlight left although I don't think there was much doubt we had to do that anyway.
Crossing over the top of the Steel Cliffs was interesting as you walk between two fumaroles (I had no idea there were any up here in the cliffs) and the rock is covered with moss there. Must be some sulphur-loving moss species or something. Once over, we had to ascend about 100 feet to catch the Wy'East route on the east side of the mountain. It's about 40-45 degrees and we descended it fairly fast. David much faster than me and I even turned in to downclimb the middle section of it. I was getting tired and sloppy now and did not want to take any goofy chances.
Once down, it is a long traverse back around the SE side of Hood to where we got back to the ridge on the east side of the White River Glacier. We came around much lower than where we crossed earlier in the day so we just plodded down to about 7500 to 8000 feet to where we found a ski track traverse across to the Palmer. By now it was about 5:30 or 6 pm and we had been going for 14 and a half hours or so. As darkness came and I was still traversing a steep slope to the Palmer, I noticed the moon was coming up in the east now making a nice little bookend to the climb and illuminating my route again. Once back on the Palmer, we did the trudge down to the parking lot where I had several messages from cjwhat wondering where we were. Just happy to be back down but feeling spanked for the second day in a row. And super tired. I'd gotten 7 hours of sleep out of the last 62 or so. Still, there was some climbing done and that pretty much means it was a good weekend nonetheless.