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Ascent to Mount Hood-Devils Kitchen on 2014-04-12

Climber: Michael Wanberg

Others in Party:Jeremy B
Wayne C
Emily M
Matt M
William K
Alex S
Liz S
Date:Saturday, April 12, 2014
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Mount Hood - Devils Kitchen
    Location:USA-Oregon
    Elevation:10200 ft / 3108 m
    Remaining Elevation:1039 ft / 317 m (19% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

This trip went sideways in a number of aspects, but it was a great learning experience and the first time to the top of Oregon's highest peak for three of our party.

There were exceptional conditions for climbing, except for a brutal wind from the WNW. It was somewhat crowded, being the first really nice weekend day of the spring. I estimate there were 60-100 people on the route on Saturday

We encountered a descending party on the Palmer snowfield who had their tent destroyed by high winds at Illumination Saddle a few hours prior. It should be noted that the saddle is a wind-funnel when winds are from that direction.

We were attempting to complete this as an overnight with a camp on the Triangle Moraine (~9000'). After a late start on Friday(~5pm?), we made it to the top of the Palmer lift at sunset (~8pm) and continued on to what would become our campsite about 500' vertical above the lift terminal, with a slight ridge to our NNW to screen some of the wind. Liz had to stop below the lift-house, and Alex continued up to camp with some of the shared items before returning to her. They descended together.

William and I were the first to camp (about 8:30), and we began the tough work of excavating tent sites in unfriendly 'snow'. Actually, we encountered very little snow, mostly ice, and we hit rock at about 3' down. One of the flimsier shovels folded and broke early on. The ice-saws proved invaluable, and after many hours (not planned!) we finally had two platforms cut & filled with a sufficient wind-wall. The arduous digging conditions meant that the first tent didn't get put up until 10pm. Jeremy and Wayne came up after work, joining us about midnight just as the second tent was going up. The snowpack that I had expected to be somewhat similar to what we'd found on the same aspect of Mount Saint Helens two weeks prior wasn't even close. I was the last of our party to make it into our sleeping bags (after 1am), with our wake-up time only a few hours away.

Five of us were moving once again before 6am, with Wayne electing to remain at camp. The wind remained fierce, with the stronger gusts (40mph?) causing me to stagger a few times. As I neared the base of Crater Rock, I was contemplating the wisdom of proceeding to the summit because of both the high winds and my very tired state.

Our crew of five regrouped at Devils Kitchen and after a quick brief with Jeremy I decided that would be my highpoint for the day. He took the ice tool and screws, and it was decided to forgo the originally planned running belay in favor of proceeding individually (un-roped). The rope and protection would be held in reserve in case the need arose. The four continued via the Old Chute variation, opting for the high winds along the catwalk (by some accounts narrower than usual) instead of challenging a short ice-wall in the Pearly Gates. Jeremy, William, Emily, and Matt made it to the summit about 10:30, and returned to camp a few hours later.

I descended from the Kitchen, detouring southeast to find a spot overlooking the White River Glacier to inspect the Wy-East route where it splits off from the south route. Returning to camp, I paused only briefly to remove my pack and crampons before nose-diving onto a pile of air-pads and sleeping bags and promptly dropping off to sleep. Multiple factors attributed to my decision to turn back, primarily fatigue (~4 hours of digging/building, overnight weight with no sleep, post-surgery conditioning, etc), but also confidence in the remaining team members. I was also pretty tired of the wind, and didn't 'need' the summit again, especially because it's likely I'll be back up there a few more times in 2014.

The summit crew returned about noon, and we cleared camp a little after 1pm. Most opted to walk down, though Emily assembled her split-board (the rest of us were jealous) and I rigged my 'jet-sled' glissade device. I gave the skiers a 'run for their money' cruising down Palmer, and was able to continue much of the way down from Silcox Hut before the effort of holding my large pack forward for less drag became more work than walking. Emily easily beat us all back to the trucks, and the rest of us arrived en masse sometime before 4pm. We stopped at the Barlow Trail Roadhouse for an early dinner (good food!) on the return to Portland.

55#/30#/60#OA60,KTX,Wal3,REI-20,Merrill'ICs,MHovers,2l/1.5l
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:4300 ft / 1310 m
    Elevation Loss:4300 ft / 1310 m
    Distance:6 mi / 9.7 km
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Ski Poles, Snowshoes, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Cold, Very Windy, Clear
Great conditions except for brutal wind
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:4300 ft / 1310 m
    Extra Loss:50 ft / 15 m
    Distance:3 mi / 4.8 km
    Route:South
    Trailhead:Timberline TH  5950 ft / 1813 m
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:4250 ft / 1295 m
    Distance:3 mi / 4.8 km
    Route:South
    Trailhead:Timberline TH  5950 ft / 1813 m



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