up Eliot Glacier, over Cooper Spur, down Newton Clark glacier

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Chip Down
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up Eliot Glacier, over Cooper Spur, down Newton Clark glacier

Post by Chip Down » July 21st, 2019, 6:00 am

I had some unfinished business on Cooper Spur. I think the best way to present this TR is to list my goals and how they turned out. I hope GoalTech Mike doesn't slap me with a C&D order.

goal: Hike up Eliot Glacier to the high crossing and ascend the moraine out of the valley.
Done.
I've been to the terminus a few times, but never set foot on the Eliot. It went really well. I missed the trail up to the crest of the east moraine, possibly because it was shaded and didn't stand out, or maybe because I was inattentive. Went higher up the glacier than I imagined possible, courtesy of a cliffy rock island that privided a little safety. I tried to escape the canyon up high, but it was a waste of time/effort. Gave up and went back down to the trail.

goal: Find parts remaining from January plane crash. Was reported as being on the Eliot, but I suspect that's just where the bulk of the wreckage ended up.
Failed, sort of.
I actually forgot to look, but as much as I was enjoying the scenery from various vantage points, I don't think it would have made a difference if I had remembered to look. A bonus though: I found a part way over on the Newton Clark glacier (one of the reasons I can't believe the plane crashed on Eliot; I can't imagine a part getting flung all the way from Eliot, across Cooper Spur, over to NC).

goal: Get up to a rocky pulpit on the Cooper Spur snowfield (9400'), overlooking Eliot.
Done.
I wanted to do that last time I was up there, but the weather was fairly bad. Better to wait for a day where I could enjoy it. I picked a perfect day; weather was sublime. I love clouds, but I have to admit it was nice for a change to have a cloud-free day. And the pulpit was melted out, so it was a nice place to linger. This is the highest I've been on Cooper Spur, except for an August night climb where I climbed to the summit in the dark and back down in the dark. Scenery was somewhat compromised on that trip, so I finally had a chance to see some of what I missed.

goal: Set foot on the Black Spider (a distinctive rocky feature on the Newton Clark headwall).
Failed.
I was a little east of Troutdale when I realized I had forgotten my helmet. There wasn't that much rockfall, but when I was on the pulpit I saw a release of several skull-crushers. Actually not that disappointed, it was just something to do.

goal:
Descend from my high point (9400' pulpit) to Timberline trail entirely on snow.
Done, essentially, except a few steps on rock near the top of the falls that spill from Cooper Spur on the Newton Clark side. What an amazing glissade! A little more than 2000'. Took 90 minutes, due to exploring and dawdling and sightseeing.

goal: Hop across a crevasse on Eliot and on Newton Clark on the same day. Done and done.
The NC one was scarier; the Eliot one was more fun.
Attachments
1.jpg
The big cliffy island at center was my goal. I was disappointed that there was never really a distinct top. The rubble just gradually yielded to ice. No real sense of "okay, made it". Above to the left, yellow X marks the pulpit where I turned back and headed down.
2.jpg
Working my way up the east side of the island.
3.jpg
That's as far as I was willing to go up Eliot. I was hoping for some distinctive turnaround point. What finally turned me back was mini crevasses, and it could only get worse.
4.jpg
Ha!
5.jpg
Looking down Cooper Spur from pulpit.
6.jpg
Eliot from pulpit.
7.jpg
Looking down my descent route. Cooper Spur left, Newton Canyon right.
8.jpg
Looks like somebody just set it there five minutes ago.
9.jpg
The end of my amazing 2000' glissade.

johnspeth
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Re: up Eliot Glacier, over Cooper Spur, down Newton Clark glacier

Post by johnspeth » July 21st, 2019, 7:46 am

A long glissade is always a nice surprise, not easy to plan for. 2K feet is a long one. What did you do or use to avoid ripping your pants? Maybe there's some sort of device that can be used, like a kevlar fanny panel. I've been just bringing an old pair of pants or shorts and just let 'em rip. I've tried the shovel ride but that gets too fast.

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mjirving
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Re: up Eliot Glacier, over Cooper Spur, down Newton Clark glacier

Post by mjirving » July 21st, 2019, 7:49 am

Awesome work! Sounds like we just missed crossing paths as I did the N-C traverse from Meadows Fri/Sat. I too missed the trail out of Eliot. I learned that you need to spot it from the other side and find landmarks to keep it referenced. When you get close to it, it disappears.

I recall that plane crash was pretty high on Eliot, like around your pulpit location. I also recall they had planned to remove the wreckage after the snows of the winter receded and the weather improved. (Don’t recall exactly when it was).

Black Spider! Impressive goal!

Cool report! Thanks!
Mike (aka GoalTech)

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Chip Down
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Re: up Eliot Glacier, over Cooper Spur, down Newton Clark glacier

Post by Chip Down » July 21st, 2019, 7:05 pm

Johnspeth: This was a standing glissade, essentially boot skiing. I only tried sitting once. Wasn't much fun, it was a wet sloppy mess, and my pants were never the same.

Mike: Once again, we just missed each other. Funny. Okay, so now I don't feel so bad about missing that exit trail. Maybe I should have been constantly looking back. It's okay though, even if I had noticed it, I still would have continued exploring up the glacier. On my way back down to hook up with the trail, I did keep an eye on it, pinned the base to certain features, in case it was one of those magic trails that disappear when you're close.
I wonder why they were so eager to remove that plane, while the Mooney wreckage is left.
Oops, I went back and read some news reports. I see references to Cooper Spur, and "near the Eliot Glacier", and debris on Eliot, but I couldn't find a report of the plane crashing on Eliot. Possibly my fault, unless I read a story somewhere that stated the plane crashed on Eliot. Looks like the impact was pretty high up Cooper, maybe around 10k'. I suspect the pilot took a route down to Eliot that's pretty close to what several unfortunate climbers have suffered. Interesting to think that a plane would happen to crash on-or-near the climbing route that probably has the greatest fatality rate on Hood.

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mjirving
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Re: up Eliot Glacier, over Cooper Spur, down Newton Clark glacier

Post by mjirving » July 21st, 2019, 8:08 pm

Yeah I was curious about that too when I read it as it would be super easy to get the Mooney crash debris out.

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retired jerry
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Re: up Eliot Glacier, over Cooper Spur, down Newton Clark glacier

Post by retired jerry » July 22nd, 2019, 5:04 am

nice exploration

you mean the exit trail up to Cooper Spur shelter?

if so, that's weird, seems pretty obvious. I guess that's from the other side, maybe not so much when you get closer?

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mjirving
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Re: up Eliot Glacier, over Cooper Spur, down Newton Clark glacier

Post by mjirving » July 22nd, 2019, 5:31 am

Exactly Jerry. Very obvious from the other side. So much so, that it never crossed my mind to keep track of it. Extremely hard to find once up close. I didn’t “find” it until I crossed it side-hilling the moraine in the opposite direction...which was very steep and difficult.

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retired jerry
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Re: up Eliot Glacier, over Cooper Spur, down Newton Clark glacier

Post by retired jerry » July 22nd, 2019, 6:12 am

ahhh... I see your point

yeah, those moraines on both sides are difficult to get up - steep, loose material, stuff will slide on top of you from above,...

I've only done it from the other side where it was easy to see. Just kept going in that direction.

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Chip Down
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Re: up Eliot Glacier, over Cooper Spur, down Newton Clark glacier

Post by Chip Down » July 22nd, 2019, 5:29 pm

Jerry [or anybody else reading],
Any tips on ascending the west moraine at that elevation?
I'd rather avoid dropping to the old roped route.

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mjirving
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Re: up Eliot Glacier, over Cooper Spur, down Newton Clark glacier

Post by mjirving » July 22nd, 2019, 6:14 pm

Not sure if you saw this?

I crossed Eliot pretty much as a contour from the social trail that exits the east moraine just a tad below 6800’. On the west side I recall there was a mini crest line down in the glacier area that runs parallel to the west moraine right next to it. I passed through at 7400’ between the top of the moraine and the floor of Eliot which is right next to the big rock outcropping. If I did it again I might aim for more like 7300 as it might be just a tiny bit less steep. It’s big rocks through there but some of them are a bit loose, so you have to take it slow and steady to not inadvertently knock one loose. My hypothesis is that it’s easier going up than down. When I came down it, it was one of the 3 places I broke a trekking pole as it got wedged between a couple rocks, I slipped, torqued to pole, and snapped it. (The other 2 breaks were the same process going up the nose of Barrett Spur and crossing White River Glacier.) I learned my lesson and brought my cheap carbon poles from Costco on the NC crossing instead of my expensive Leki carbon poles. (If course I had no problem). Make sense?

Mike

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