This tour turned out to be a blessing. With a bleak, rainy forecast we planned on climbing in thick cloud and skiing in mush. What we got was the complete opposite. Not thinking that we would have sun on the trip we anticipated conditions to be a grabby, crappy, schoomy mess regardless of the timing of our tour. So we planned on a not-so-alpine-start time of 9:30.
Leaving Portland at 6:30 in thick cloud and rain we contemplated just staying in town. As soon as we got to Hood tiver, the clouds broke and revealed the mountain. We were stoked on the blue skies, but realized that we may have blown it with our late start.
The tour began with a slog through lush forest, unfortunately devoid of snow. We hadpark at the Sno Park at 4,900′ so this added some time to our trip.
We hit consistent snow in the burned out forest below the Cooper Spur. The skies must have been somewhat clear and cold the previous night because the snow was firm underneath the top few centimeters. Climbing fast might yield some good turns!
Above timberline, our climbing and ski routes revealed themselves. The snow was still firm and we wondered if it would soften even with the sun.
As we climbed higher, the snow got harder and harder. Above 9,500 we gave up on skinning and transitioned to cramponing. The slopes reach just over 45 degrees on the steepest sections of climbing.
We down-climbed and side-slipped the hard, wind-board until the slope eased off to around 40 degrees. I know…YOU would have skied it… The relief on that face is over 2,000′. It’s not a spot you wanna take a spill. With ice-hard conditions we didn’t want to take that chance.
Lower on the Spur, below 9,500′ there were some great wind buff turns to be had. These were some of the best turns we’ve had on our Cascade Volcano mission, until we hit the low angle corn on the snowfield below the glacier.
All in all, an unexpectedly great trip. The upper reaches of Mt Hood promise to deliver some great corn if the temps get high enough and the winds strip the forecast storm snow from settling on the top. If not, the wind buff skiing will only get better. The lower elevations will get funky though. Be prepared for some transitioning snow unless you ski it while it’s cold. And be ready to get some mud on your ski boots…