Barrett Spur: all-day "failure"

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Chip Down
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Barrett Spur: all-day "failure"

Post by Chip Down » August 25th, 2019, 5:33 pm

I put "failure" in quotes because I did accomplish a thing or two, and it was a lot of fun. Overall a pretty satisfying day. But yeah, I really did start in the dark and finish in the dark, and never made it to the top of Barrett Spur.

From Elk Cove I headed over to the west moraine of Coe Glacier. The easiest route is to stay high through the cove, then curve around the base of Barrett to an obvious notch in the moraine. But I wanted to go lower and then follow the moraine crest up. When I hit what I thought would be the crest, I was instead on a ridge, looking into a pleasant grassy valley arcing down the mountain. I dropped in, explored down a bit to see where it went, then continued up and over to the moraine, crossing a series of steeper narrower gullies. I now see that there's a prominent crescent ridge between Elk Cove and Coe's west moraine. Surprised I never noticed that.

I gained the moraine right where I had hoped to, at a slightly low and broad spot I had noticed on my east-moraine ascent a few weeks ago. Looking down the moraine, it was brushy and less distinct. Looking up the moraine it was perfectly straight, sharp on the crest, and brushy on the Elk side. It was fun to look at (the sharp contrast) but not fun for hiking.

Abruptly, another change on the moraine: no more brush on the Elk side. Still pretty sharp on the crest. Fortunately, the Elk side was relatively gentle; I have no doubt a fall off the Coe side would be fatal.

I was relieved to arrive at the saddle, at the base of Barrett, where the moraine dips and broadened. I dropped onto Coe and started up. My plan was to go up Coe and around Barrett. I knew that was a very ambitious goal. I had no axe or crampons. I was thinking this would be a scouting trip, but I hoped to get lucky. I reached what I knew would be the crux: a cliff band, festooned with waterfalls (one primary, a few smaller). To the east/left was a dark streak that I hoped would grant a bypass, but it was just dirty glacial ice, not really safe. I saw one possible breach in the cliff, but getting to it involved crossing a patch of ice/snow, and possibly a moat. I tried to go around the cliffs to the west/right, but it was what I expected, steep rubble. Maybe I could have done it, but it involved a long tilted ramp. Lots of work, very unpleasant, probably not safe. Would be much better with snow. At 7300+', with only 300' to the Barrett/Pulpit gap, I retreated, with a little side trip to what looked like a very good viewpoint over the glacier, but it disappointed.

Back at the Coe moraine, I started looking for a way up Barrett directly from the cove. Primarily, I wanted to get to a verdant bench perched up on the otherwise drab grey northeast slope of Barrett (which faces straight into Elk Cove). There were a couple lush green creeks spilling down, but maybe just a little too steep to ascend, so I kept traversing, looking for a way up. Came to a snowfield (lowest on Hood, about the same as Coe terminus) and followed the edge of it, which turned out to be the safest easiest way. As it turned out, I bet I could have curved around Barrett much lower and then ascended the snowfield in less time, and it would have been more pleasant. From the top of the snowfield, I curved back left/east to the bench. It met expectations. Lovely scenery. I dropped into a hanging meadow which fed one of the green falls I had seen below. Turns out there's no creek on the bench though; instead there are springs in the hanging meadow. With rock walls left and right, a view down to Elk Cove, springs, and an abundance of wildflowers, this could be an amazing secret spot to spend a couple hours in privacy. Only problem is it was just a little too steep to really relax. Nice place to visit, then move along.

I had wanted to explore a bit more, but apart from the bench, this part of Barrett is ugly and hard to travel on, so I followed my ascent route back down (steep/loose/unpleasant) and then to the base of the snowfield, where I took my first extended break of the day as I waited to meet a fellow Oregon Hiker who I had been exchanging texts with all day. I won't say more; wait for his exciting adventure-filled report.

I don't know if I'll try that Coe/Barrett loop again. I think it would be safe/easy with good snow conditions, but that would require a very early season hike, and getting to Elk Cove could be a challenge.
Attachments
0.jpg
On Coe's west moraine, surveying the route ahead. "VP" is the disappointing viewpoint I scrambled up to. Goal was to pass between Pulpit Rock and Barrett (Barrett is the big ugly heap at right).
1.jpg
That's the bench I ended up at. It was my consolation prize. The bigger green streak leads to the hanging meadow.
2.jpg
On the bench, looking across Coe canyon, Langille area in the distance.
3.jpg
Looking down on Elk Cove.
4.jpg
Hanging meadow on Barrett. This picture doesn't quite capture how steep it is, or how abruptly it plummets at the edge down there.
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On the right margin, pick a point halfway between the snowfields, then look for the bench to the left (the prominent point is barely catching sun). Further left, look for a long horizontal line of snow. Waterfalls/cliffs are at the top of that.
6.jpg
Not a pretty picture, just documenting the view down Coe Glacier (covered in rubble down low).
7.jpg
At a high point on Coe's west moraine sits this sentry rock.
8.jpg
Not my best work. I might not even get an endorsement check this week.
9.JPG
This was one of those trips where the GE image corresponds very well to my perception of the terrain.

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adamschneider
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Re: Barrett Spur: all-day "failure"

Post by adamschneider » August 26th, 2019, 8:26 am

I've been up to those "hanging gardens" a couple of times. They have amazing late-season flowers and no one ever goes there. (Then, from the bench at the top, I traversed over to Dollar Lake's ridge.)

But it'd never occur to me to try to approach Barrett Spur from the east; it is nasty on that side. The west side is no problem at all, but probably too easy/boring for you. :)

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mjirving
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Re: Barrett Spur: all-day "failure"

Post by mjirving » August 26th, 2019, 5:47 pm

Great report. And great to finally meet you Chip Down! That was fun. My reports are so backlogged right now due to my very fun summer in the outdoors. Maybe I’ll do a teaser report to get the conversation going. Let’s just say that my CCW newer version of my Mt Hood High Route blew away last year’s CW version. A massive thanks to you as it wouldn’t have been that way without your help. Going high above N-C and also way high above Glisan and out the upper Co Rock saddle were amazing. Over 4 days we hiked 31.6 miles around the mountain and it took us 39 hours and 45 minutes (a blazing 0.8 mph pace). We touched every glacier except Coalman. (Maybe touched an edge piece of Reid??) It was 14,250 vertical feet. In comparison, it took me only 17 1/2 hours to do the Timberline Trail in a day a few years ago. I can safely say it was the most epic hike I’ve ever done. Thanks again for your help! Great to meet you, and stay tuned for the formal report...some day. ;-)

PS you left the Coe moraine pretty much exactly where we exited the Coe to the moraine...a good spot.

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mjirving
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Re: Barrett Spur: all-day "failure"

Post by mjirving » August 26th, 2019, 5:48 pm

Oh...nice to see the beer reveal. ;)

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Chip Down
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Re: Barrett Spur: all-day "failure"

Post by Chip Down » August 26th, 2019, 6:18 pm

adamschneider wrote:
August 26th, 2019, 8:26 am
I've been up to those "hanging gardens" a couple of times.
One of these days I'll do something new that nobody else has...but it certainly won't be on Hood. :lol:
mjirving wrote:
August 26th, 2019, 5:47 pm
...my CCW newer version of my Mt Hood High Route blew away last year’s CW version.
Hell yeah! I'm so pleased you crossed Coe Glacier instead of taking the trail all the way down to the creek crossing (I think that's what you did last time). Also, very happy to see you went through Co Pass on Cathedral Ridge! I advocated pretty strongly for that, but I didn't think you were going to take my advice. I was thinking about meeting up with you on Sandy Glacier, but I'm saving that follow-up trip for a little later.

Wish I'd had more time to visit with you and Daryl (hope I got that right) but as it was I barely got back to my car by dark.

Looking forward to the full report.

Oh, and I looked at your instagram, and laughed at the reminder to be careful with your fragile treking poles. :lol:

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mjirving
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Re: Barrett Spur: all-day "failure"

Post by mjirving » August 26th, 2019, 7:06 pm

Ha! Yeah I broke one and Daryl broke one. I broke both last year and then broke my stub one again! My pro-tip of carrying single-use superglue packs comes through again. (To glue z-poles together that no longer have the tether...among other handy uses for glueing or using on finger cuts. We saw some guy coming up Glisan on Sunday and said, “That’s probably Chip coming to check up on us to make sure we’re doing okay. :D

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mjirving
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Re: Barrett Spur: all-day "failure"

Post by mjirving » August 26th, 2019, 7:09 pm

Ha! Yeah I broke one and Daryl broke one. I broke both last year and then broke my stub one again! My pro-tip of carrying single-use superglue packs comes through again. (To glue z-poles together that no longer have the tether...among other handy uses for glueing or using on finger cuts. We saw some guy coming up Glisan on Sunday and said, “That’s probably Chip coming to check up on us to make sure we’re doing okay. :D

PS: I learned my lesson and took my cheap Costco carbon poles (best poles for the dollar out there) instead of my Leki Vario Carbons. Glad I did!

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