Mt Hood: Illumination Ridge [part three, 8/17/2019]

Discussions and Trip Reports for off-trail adventures and rediscovering lost trails
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retired jerry
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Re: Mt Hood: Illumination Ridge [return 8/11/2019]

Post by retired jerry » August 13th, 2019, 5:52 am

wow, nice work, too bad the weather wasn't better

weird weather we've been experiencing, occasional rain, not too hot

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Chip Down
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Re: Mt Hood: Illumination Ridge

Post by Chip Down » August 18th, 2019, 10:05 am

Chip Down wrote:
August 12th, 2019, 6:57 pm
I guess there will be a part three. I'll make it a goldilocks day, not too hot, not too cloudy. June could be good, if I have the patience.
Turns out I don't. Headed back 8/17. Drizzled a bit on the drive up, but I was safely above clouds at Timberline. Wanted to stay closer to Paradise Branch this time, the creek/canyon that flows from Zigzag Glacier and blocks easy access to Mississippi Head and Paradise Park.

Getting to the top of Mississippi Head took a couple hours (darkness and poor route selection, and I'm fatoldlazy). The descent on the other side was fun and scenic, but I lost time skirting snow or chopping steps. It was below freezing, and even low-angle slopes required a lot of caution. I dropped into the most scenic areas where I saw the most potential for fun adventure, but I knew it was risky; I might deadend and have to climb up, then over towards Illumination. Sure enough, hit a cliff where a couple little creeks spilled out of the flat grassy bowl I was following. It was easy enough to work down and regain the creek, but I didn't go far. I could see the snowbridges downstream were fragile, and the banks steep. That creek needs to be followed in October when it's snow free and the water is low, or in June when it's safely snowed over. Back up south to a moraine, but as I feared the crest was sharp and crumbly. A fall left would be fatal, a fall right would be survived but would be miserable. I hate knife-edge moraines. [I just looked at the map. That creek and that moraine go nowhere, they just dump into Paradise Branch Canyon. The creek initially curves right towards Illumination (that much I could see), but that's just a tease before it sweeps left. The moraine opens up into a broad open space, which enticed me, but then it narrows and drops into the canyon. Yeah, that's right, I study maps after my hikes, not before.]

Okay, so what's next? I tried to backtrack and ascend roughly northish towards Illumination Ridge, but I was blocked by a steep gully. Tried a few strategies, but finally acknowledged I would have to go much higher before I could get across. Clouds had been lapping at the mountain right about where I'd been exploring, but not quite enough to interfere with my routefinding. But it was enough that I just wasn't willing to put hard work into ascending just so I could drop again and plunge into the clouds. As failures go, I felt good about this. I took a chance, lured by interesting terrain and scenery, but then got shut down by multiple objective hazards. At least I ended up at a well-defined place, a spot I can easily see on the map, a landmark for future trips. And it was fun/beautiful. And clouds would have made success impossible anyway. So really, no complaints, pretty good way to spend an August morning.

For my return, I went back to the moraine where I had failed to descend. Going up, I also hit a knifedge stretch, but a quick easy detour put me back on crest when it got safer. Waterfalls and snow fingers and sandy rubble heaps took me back to ZZ glacier. For a while, clouds were following me, threatening to swallow me up, but they ebbed, and I always had good visibility.

At this moment, I hate the thought of going back, but you know I will. Stay tuned for part four.
Mississippi Head: hard work behind me, fun begins.
Deadend at cliffs.
Looking down from cliff edge.
A tier halfway down the cliff. Nice spot for my second breakfast.
On the moraine looking back at the cliffs.
Headed back up now. Thought this was new to me, but when I got to the top of the top tier of the falls, I realized I had been there before, accessed from the other side (dropped in from the far canyon rim). This time I followed the creek up and then followed the base of that obvious cliffband until I could climb up to the top.
See that high point on the left? If you've accessed Mississippi from Paradise, you've likely been there. Most routes converge there, and then a broad ridge continues to Mississippi. To the right, way off in the distance at cloud level, is Yocum Ridge.
Looking down on Mississippi in the afternoon, clouds about the same as they were at sunrise.
The mighty Mississippi Glacier flowing into an ocean of clouds.
This week shall yield twice the usual number of endorsement checks.

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Re: Mt Hood: Illumination Ridge [part three, 8/17/2019]

Post by mjirving » August 18th, 2019, 5:07 pm

Nice work. What a maze in there.


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