2/15/2020, Mt. Hood (Timberline Lodge for start)

OR Mt Hood
Posted by evanraj513 on 2/16/20 11:03am
Started touring Saturday morning in the brief down between the two storms this week. Previous to Saturday, conditions were calling for partial to complete cloud coverage, and some light (10-15 mph) winds at 9000'. Thought this might be a good day to check out the Devil's Kitchen Headwall, a route I have yet to do for the summit. Out of the car by 5AM, good ol' headlamp skinning. By the time we passed the midway hut (beginning of Palmer Glacier chair, aka the mile) sky was turning gray, snow was dumping, wind was picking up, and the trail was mixed light pow and bullet hard blue glacial ice. My partner was managing to still skin straight up, and I could only follow with my ski crampons on, and some decent ankle flexibility. By 6:30, we were above the Palmer Field House amid white-out conditions on predominantly glacial ice, following my GPS in a vain attempt to continue up. Once Illumination Rock was outlined in the distance, it was clear the conditions were worsening, and we collectively decided to retreat.
The descent was more work and intimidating than the skin up. Having never skied such snow, and with such terrible visibility, the going was slow and arduous. Luckily, we turned around early enough that finding our way back to the Field House wasn't too terrible, and continued on from there by not venturing far from the lift line.
Learned that conditions predicted are not conditions had, and that a pow day down low does not imply even skinnable snow up high. We could have continued and pushed through to summit on crampons, but walking down with skis on my back from the summit was not the day I was looking for. Ended up doing some sweet pow laps further down, especially in White River.

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2020-02-16 19:03:24