GoalTech's Mt Hood High Route CCW - My greatest adventure 08-26-19

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mjirving
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GoalTech's Mt Hood High Route CCW - My greatest adventure 08-26-19

Post by mjirving » September 5th, 2019, 9:26 pm

Mt Hood High Route CCW (Preview)
“Best hike I've ever done” 


8/23/19 - 8/26/19
Rating: 5 Stars


Miles: 31.6
Days: 4
Time: 39 hrs, 50 min
Avg MPH: 0.8
Elev Min: 3,260'
Elev Max: 8,620
Total Ascent: 14,250'
Steps: 106,400'
Flights of Stairs: 1,098
Temp Low: 40
Temp High: 70
Other hikers: 24
Longest time without seeing a hiker: 26 hrs, 20 min
Wildlife: Orange butterflies, crows, other birds
Verizon Cell Service: Mostly weak LTE, some no service down low


(I didn't proof this as I need to go to bed, so please forgive any typos or nonsense)


Well, I did it. I hiked my Mt Hood High Route in its best form after many scouting hikes, much research, with the help of others, after 3 years of planning and a "prototype" CW hike last year.


It was the coolest thing I've ever done in my life...and I've been fortunate to be able to do some pretty cool stuff. The weather was almost perfect except for the 24 hours of wind from the first night through the second night. It was great to have a partner this year with me, my buddy "Clark Kent" (he's always changing clothes). A massive shout out to my Mt Hood hiking mentor "Chip Down", who was a huge factor in refining my route and giving me the confidence to tackle some routes that were intimidating for me.


Day 1:


We started off at Timberline Lodge, leaving at 7am on Hood-to-Coast day. Leaving early was a help. We heard the starting calls all the way up White River Glacier. We headed up the climber's route and dropped down the chute by Silcox Hut's elevation to the White River. After looking at Mamie Falls, we climbed the nose of the moraine and headed up to the base of White River Glacier. We went up the Wy East climber's route to our highest elevation of the hike. This getting up the upper moraine crest was very challenging and semi-sketch on slippery glacial ice in a few spots.


Once on top, we contoured easily over the upper fingers of Pittock and Dryer Glaciers to the Super Bowl moraine above Mt Hood Meadows. We crossed Super Bowl pretty easily and went under the base of (Newton-Clark Falls?) [It's kinda fun to name all the unnamed features up this high that are unvisited/unknown/unnamed.]. We skirted under the falls and across the hanging meadow and then side-hilled down the N-C moraine to gain its crest (hard work!). Then we went up to the termination of that moraine at the N-C prow. 


We dropped into the surprisingly park-like setting below the N-C glacier, crossed the creeks in the bowl and almost scrambled up some sturdy rock faces up to the back of the N-C glacier, which is stunning to see so close. We contoured along its base to a large hill where you can go above or below. We went below to avoid the extra climb and the more exposed snow slope. We dropped down below the bowl of snow and around and then back up just a bit, just above the cascading waterfalls to gain the ridge and get spit out to what I call Spaceship Rock and The Football Field, one of my favorite features on the mountain. 


Up we went where we saw a cavernous hole in the snow down to a raging creek. We admired the high-volume and tall Cooper Falls and then semi-scrambled up just a bit on some green in-filled rocks up the the mini football field and our camp site by Cooper Creek.


At 2am, the winds came up. I can't believe my Zpacks Solplex non-freestanding tent stayed upright. It was loose in the morning, but it held up. Putting big rocks on the stakes were a major help. Clark's MSR tent tore where the trekking pole handle goes into the tent pocket to hold it up, so he cowboy camped the rest of the night.


Day 2:


We started at 7:30 up the moraine to the crest of Cooper Spur. Once on top, we went out to Tie In Rock to sit out of the wind for a few minutes. We followed the climber's route down to the shelter where we saw the first few people since we started the hike the day before. We went to the Eliot moraine and couldn't find the use-trail down so we made our own and side-hilled down to the glacier. We crossed it in a routine manner, finding a small interior airplane part that we wondered if it was part of the crash up high last year. It was a tad tricky to find the best way out as the view from down low hides some false "summits" of multiple sub-moraines. We did exit the usual way, just below the cliff band of rocks. We saw three people roped up down below practicing glacier travel on the white glacier, going up towards the crevasses. 


We crossed over above Langille Crags and dropped down and glissaded on Langille Glacier to Mooney Tarn where we had lunch and took a brisk swim. (Felt very refreshing). We dropped down to check out the Mooney plane crash from a long time ago before heading up and out to contour over to the Coe Glacier. There were a few mini moraines in here that were surprisingly sketchy with their steepness and crusty soil. After falling on our backside and dodging small boulders broken free we made it to the edge of Coe. What a magnificent sight up so high.


We dropped down a ways and made our own path down the moraine and crossed pretty easily where was saw that the main channel of the Coe looked least sketchy. We made quick work of it and headed for the upper terminus of the moraine on the other side. We quickly got to the top of that and dropped into the valley on the other side of it and followed it down to Elk Cove. This was a fun meeting of the day as I finally got to meet my Mt Hood hiking mentor, Chip Down! We had a great visit, but sunset was approaching and we were both a bit late, so we went on our way after about 20 minutes. On a side note, as I was approaching Chip, my foot slipped and I torqued my trekking pole in a rock and snapped it. That's why I brought my cheap Costco poles for this hike rather than my expensive Lekis! That's a total of 4 broken trekking poles in two MHHR trips! (if you're keeping score). We headed up the meadow along the creek to the top of the Barrett Spur moraine. We went up the moraine toward Barrett Spur and the wind kept getting stronger and stronger. We were convinced that we would find a suitable camp. We had wanted to camp on the Spur, but it was getting late and REALLY windy. At the saddle we found a decent spot on the leeward side. It was still breezy, but at least not gale force! We both cowboy camped to avoid the windy mess with the tents. It was a 40-degree night with wind all night, but we stayed toasty warm and enjoyed the view of the stars and watching the Big Dipper rotate through the night.


Day 3:


We left camp at 8:20 and immediately headed up Barrett Spur. It was still pretty cold and it was still very windy. We were totally exposed, but felt pretty alive as we snaked up the crest. This has got to be one of the coolest spots on the mountain. We went out to the far nose toward the mountain and soaked it in before finding a big rock to have 2nd breakfast by. We dropped down Barrett on the Ladd side. This is always the crux of the hike. We had a view hand-hold steps to get along a lower rock band that would have made me sweat a lot more if we had been up higher. After going through, I think I know of a modification of this path down or a different path down from the saddle out to the front nose that would be better. Once down, we saw a crack in the Ladd snow that dropped down a ways, so we got onto the big rocks and started over and down Ladd Glacier. We glissaded a bit down to the flat below the top of Gladd Ridge and easily gained that ridge. Once we got off of Barrett, the wind pretty much died down.


Then it was straight up above Gladd Ridge to start over the top of Glisan Glacier. I had scouted a track across the glacier earlier this summer, but the snow was now covered in cracks and it looked to be trickier to get to the top of Cathedral Ridge with the lower snow levels. So we stayed high and really enjoyed "Gladd Park" above the ridge. We crossed some high fingers of snow and contoured down to Co Pass, just above Co Rock. It was stunning to see Co Rock from above. 


We dropped surprisingly easy into the Sandy Glacier and glissaded down its edge about 1/2 way down to where we needed to be. We then followed the small creek as the rocks were nice and consolidated. Then we crossed over to the Muddy Fork headwaters and crossed a couple of forks. The ice caves are fundamentally gone, but there are some mini caves up there. We dropped down to the cliff where the Muddy Fork falls over and crossed it there. This again was a surprising mini-crux as the side hill was steep and unconsolidated causing both of us to slip to our backsides and "glissade" on rock for a short bit. (I don't recommend that...not very enjoyable). After crossing the multiple forks, we went up one of the small forks to get back up higher and cross over the upper cliff edges in their gardens, which were beautiful. Our plan was to drop down to the natural saddle in Yocum Ridge to exit. We both agreed that we should have stayed higher to exit up high, just below the rock on Yocum Ridge. So that's a tiny improvement for the next time. Once we were at Yocum, we had gone just 4.55 miles in 9 hours and 20 minutes! In the next hour and a half (on-trail) we doubled our mileage for the day. 


We examined the Reid from the viewpoint and both agreed that there was no way at all to cross that up high. We quickly got down to Ramona Falls at sunset with no one there, crossed the Sandy and then searched as quickly as possible for an open campsite as dusk was upon us. We found one in the nick of time before dark. We ate dinner and setup camp in the dark and had a glorious, windless night.


Day 4:


We were up before dawn and out of camp by 6:45am. We had 4,600' straight to climb! We had this crazy idea to try to make the Timberline Lodge Buffet before 10:30. We knew that was likely crazy, but oh well. We hauled up the trail quickly and met our only thru-hiker of the hike, Hawkeye from Iowa. Of course I brought trail magic with me so I gave him a bag of chips. We got to the Paradise Park trail and continued on up that and then kept going once it started to contour the other way. We climbed all the way up the edge of the Reid Glacier canyon marveling at the maze in there. We cruised up and over the top of Mississippi Head to Zigzag Glacier and found several snow fields to glissade down including the upper finger of snow going down Little Zigzag Canyon. We cut over on a few minor moraines and came out right at the top of the Magic Mile chairlift at Timberline with the Silcox Hut in the background. We did our "victory lap" going down the Silcox Trail, directly to Timberline Lodge.


We made it. It was so incredibly awesome. We took "bucket showers' in the parking lot and went straight to the Huckleberry Inn in Govy for a massive amount of pancakes, coffee, Sprite, ice cream and maple bars. Dang that was good!


Here are a few of my favorite pictures of the hike.

Dropping down to White River:
Image


Looking back on the White River moraine climb:
Image


Beardtongue at the base of Newton-Clark Falls:
Image


Hanging Meadow at the base of the cliff below N-C moraine:
Image


Newton-Clark Hanging Glacier and falls:Image


Newton-Clark Glacier and tarn:
Image



Spaceship Rock and The Football Field:
Image


Mt Hood under Spaceship Rock:
Image


Cooper Falls at sunrise:
Image


Cooper Creek leading to Cooper Falls with Mt Jefferson at dawn:
Image


Eliot Glacier:
Image


Mooney Tarn:
Image


Coe Glacier:
Image


Co Pass at Co Rock and Glisan Glacier:
Image


Mississippi Head and Mt Jefferson:
Image


Illumination Rock and the South of Mt Hood and Crater Rock:
Image


GoalTech and Clark Kent at the finish line at Timberline Lodge:
Image


Timberline Trail in green, GoalTech's Mt Hood High Route in red:
Image



GPS Track:
https://www.gaiagps.com/public/egqDaXAduPohRXhxIBqPgfJH

If you have ideas for improvement or corrections, please let me know. If you plan to do any or all of this, I'd request that you let me know so that I can share what I learned. The last thing I'd want is for someone to run into problems due to getting in over their head. This is extremely hard, taxing, and fraught with risk due to exposure, rock movement, falls, etc.

P.S. I got a little carried away with my "preview" (typical) :-)

Happy Trails!
GoalTech

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BurnsideBob
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Re: GoalTech's Mt Hood High Route CCW - My greatest adventure 08-26-19

Post by BurnsideBob » September 5th, 2019, 9:47 pm

Wow! Totally Amazing!!

Enjoyed photos a lot. But my the glaciers are shrinking!

Thanks for sharing your marvelous adventure.

Burnside
I keep making protein shakes but they always turn out like margaritas.

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mjirving
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Re: GoalTech's Mt Hood High Route CCW - My greatest adventure 08-26-19

Post by mjirving » September 5th, 2019, 10:03 pm

Thanks Burnside. I’ll post a more complete report with pics of all the glaciers. Coe is my favorite.

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retired jerry
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Re: GoalTech's Mt Hood High Route CCW - My greatest adventure 08-26-19

Post by retired jerry » September 6th, 2019, 5:45 am

Nice route, nice pics

Only a few places on timberline trail

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markesc
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Re: GoalTech's Mt Hood High Route CCW - My greatest adventure 08-26-19

Post by markesc » September 6th, 2019, 5:50 am

Wow! Def. goes in the top five all time Mt. Hood TR's in my opinion!

Some calendar shots in there for sure! The one with the glacier + waterfall @ sunrise, the one with the waterfall / glacier, and what looks like a ton of water with jeff/3 sisters = epic! Was that all glacier melt?

Def. Looks like one would need Goat Legs to survive that one!

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mjirving
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Re: GoalTech's Mt Hood High Route CCW - My greatest adventure 08-26-19

Post by mjirving » September 6th, 2019, 5:52 am

Yeah that’s all runoff from N-C glacier. Thanks.

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woodswalker
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Re: GoalTech's Mt Hood High Route CCW - My greatest adventure 08-26-19

Post by woodswalker » September 6th, 2019, 6:51 am

What a wonderful trip. It makes me want to explore up high a bit more than I have. Congratulations.

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mjirving
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Re: GoalTech's Mt Hood High Route CCW - My greatest adventure 08-26-19

Post by mjirving » September 6th, 2019, 12:21 pm

Thanks! I should also add that I’d strongly recommend (dare I say require) that trekking poles, micro spikes, and an ice axe should be carried on this route.

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Chip Down
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Re: GoalTech's Mt Hood High Route CCW - My greatest adventure 08-26-19

Post by Chip Down » September 6th, 2019, 6:54 pm

Aww, I wasn't expecting such a warm acknowledgement. I was happy to have helped, most particularly the Coe to Co segment (Coe Glacier crossing, then on to Sandy Glacier via Co Pass). I should also acknowledge that you inspired me to get back out there and explore a bit: Sandy Glacier, the Gladd area, the Coe crossing. None of these were entirely new to me, but you fired up my curiosity, and I had some fun checking out some variations.

That seems like an extremely slow pace, but until I do it myself it's hard to be sure. With multi-day pack, and a need to set a sensible sustainable pace, maybe it would have been crazy to go faster.

You had some nice weather. A bit on the warm side, but not miserable. I can vouch for your assertion that it was a bit breezy up there. More than I would have preferred. Even on my stroll up Elk Meadows trail, it was brisk. But hey, at a time of year when it can be hot and buggy, I couldn't complain about wind.

I was surprised at how good the phone service was up there (Cooper Spur to Elk Cove).

Having read many of your TR's, I'm surprised you would describe 7am as an early start. [and day two as well, I see...oh, and day three]

I've never noticed your Newton Clark hanging meadow. Guess it's always been under snow when I was there. Oh, wait, that's under the cliffs of the prow, between the falls and the moraine? If so, I've seen bits of it peeking through.

Couldn't find the user-trail down into Eliot? How odd. A trail leads to it, and it's marked with a big cairn. Anyway, glad that worked out for you. It's not a terribly scary place to go your own way.

Congrats on finding the plane part. I might go hunting in a couple weeks, when snow is at its lowest.

I had meant to offer to take your garbage but forgot. Oh well, your packs were getting lighter and lighter, so I guess it doesn't matter. I also was weighing the possibility of giving you a treking pole, but it looked like you were adapting well.

On day 4, you wrote "We climbed all the way up the edge of the Reid Glacier canyon marveling at the maze in there". But your text and map indicates you were actually looking into the canyons/gullies between Paradise and Reid (what might typically be called Paradise Branch).

I liked your "Newton-Clark Glacier and tarn" pic. I've been there multiple times when it was muddy, but I don't think I've seen standing water there. Imagine how pretty that spot would be if there was a big turquoise tarn there. Incidentally, that was the site of my record-setting highest balloon find (or maybe tied for highest).

So what's the motivation for this, as compared to doing it in bits and pieces? I kinda get it, it's not entirely a mystery to me. But I don't feel an urge to do it. Maybe there's no way to explain it.

Final comment (for now): I still haven't given up on finding a satisfying route from Sandy Glacier to Mississippi Head, off trail. But I suspect it has to involve a little bushwhacking, which is almost cheating (after all, anybody can bushwhack ten feet parallel to the trail; it's not fun or rewarding).

Anyway, details aside, congrats on a fantastic accomplishment. What's next?

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mjirving
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Re: GoalTech's Mt Hood High Route CCW - My greatest adventure 08-26-19

Post by mjirving » September 6th, 2019, 9:51 pm

Chip Down wrote:
September 6th, 2019, 6:54 pm
Aww, I wasn't expecting such a warm acknowledgement. I was happy to have helped, most particularly the Coe to Co segment (Coe Glacier crossing, then on to Sandy Glacier via Co Pass).
And Super Bowl under N-C...that was a big new chunk too!
I should also acknowledge that you inspired me to get back out there and explore a bit
Cool...glad to have done that!
That seems like an extremely slow pace
It was! The packs were certainly a factor. My pack started at a fully loaded food/water/gear weight of 27.8 pounds for the four days and finished at 18.3 pounds (including microspikes, ice axe and 2 big external batteries for all my "tech"). We took them off to go down and back to get water once and were amazed at how much easier it was. :lol:
The footing is so questionable up there that we were kind of confirming every rock wasn't going to roll away on us. Our 2-hour lunch-n-swim at Mooney Tarn didn't help either. :lol: My moving pace on not-steep trail is usually about 3mph, so it was legitimately slow. I also enjoyed it SO much better than last year with my 1 mph pace over 3 days (that was also on a lot more trail to up the pace) where I was solo and really pounding it hard from dawn to dusk. It as pretty brutal. I MUCH more enjoyed our exploratory pace this year...a lot more fun.
You had some nice weather. A bit on the warm side
I like it warm...it really was perfect without the wind. With the wind, I would have liked it a little warmer, but that's being super picky.
Having read many of your TR's, I'm surprised you would describe 7am as an early start. [and day two as well, I see...oh, and day three]
Hahaha! Yes indeed. On the first day I was more talking about beating the tourist crowds in addition to Hood-to-Coast which I'm guessing really jammed the parking. On the 3rd day it was cold! (and windy) so that was more about staying toasty a little longer...and I wasn't solo...so I need to kinda be maybe a little accommodating to my hiking partner with my civil twilight starts??? Maybe?
Oh, wait, that's under the cliffs of the prow, between the falls and the moraine?
Yes, indeed.
Couldn't find the user-trail down into Eliot?


Yeah, we were probably just blind to it as we took the trail up to the moraine crest from Cooper Spur Shelter. I think in my mind I thought it was down the moraine a bit so I had some bias to that and likely just wasn't paying attention. Of course from the other side its pretty dang obvious where it is.
Congrats on finding the plane part.
It's kind of in the natural crossing area of the glacier, slightly more towards the Langille side I think.
I had meant to offer to take your garbage but forgot.


Thanks...we were fine though...appreciate the belated offer/thought.
I also was weighing the possibility of giving you a treking pole
Thanks for the thought...it was a lucky break. I was able to continue using it for the rest of the trip with it being just a couple inches shorter...still worked well for my tent poles too. My buddy broke his the next day. we cut the tether out from the z-pole and glued it with a single-use super glue tube and it also worked wonderfully with only the bottom few inches missing.
you were actually looking into the canyons/gullies between Paradise and Reid (what might typically be called Paradise Branch).
Yeah, I was looking at my Google Earth track after posting and got a better appreciation of the width of that overall set of canyons...pretty amazing. I know about the Paradise Branch, but I was mis-oriented I guess in all the layout of all that. Part of what confused me was the glacial ice in the upper Paradise Branch. Is that part of Reid or part of Zigzag? My thought was that it was the outer reaches of Reid, but after looking at Google Earth I realized that it's quite a ways off the main Reid path. Thoughts?
I liked your "Newton-Clark Glacier and tarn" pic.
Yeah, that's pretty cool. I thought I remember it being clearer when I did my scouting hike in that area a month or so ago. I agree, it would be pretty stunning if it were more like Mooney Tarn.
So what's the motivation for this, as compared to doing it in bits and pieces?
Oh...this is an easy one. I love doing loops around mountains in one fell swoop. As an candidate for being a multi-year thru-hiker of the PCT, I'm all about the distance and multi-day trips. Plus, once you're up there, you don't have to loose the altitude and back that you do for day hikes. It's amazing to be up high there for 4 days and just be totally checked out (except my Instagram posts of course. :lol: ) and not see other people. The only people we really saw up high were a couple on the approach to Barrett Spur. All the others were at the Cooper Spur Shelter, The Yocum/Timberline Trail portion around Reid and from Silcox down to the Lodge. Plus the sunsets, the stars, the sunrises. I really can't imagine doing it any other way unless I had to. HYOH I suppose. :D
I still haven't given up on finding a satisfying route from Sandy Glacier to Mississippi Head, off trail.
That's great, cuz that'd give me a good reason to do it again! (I've kind of said I'm "retiring from the Mt Hood High Route after doing it both ways...we'll see). I was looking at my track on Google Earth and it looks like you could just follow the edge of Reid down to Ramona and cross the Sandy before getting to the trail? Was that where you went last year and it was merciless bushwhacking? That doesn't sound fun at all. I don't mind the Yocum Ridge trail since it's still above the Timberline Trail...and the Paradise Trail is fine too, but having to be on the TLT going up the edge of the Paradise Branch is a bit of a bummer...but I'm fine with that if there's no better way.
congrats on a fantastic accomplishment. What's next?
Thank you so much! It's been fun to share this and I hope it spurs more discussion to learn from each other about this amazing mountain. What's next? Well...I still have a thousand miles of the PCT to knock out, so that's my main effort. But for "hobby hikes", I want to do the Wonderland (after the PCT), the peak bagging loop over in the Wallowas (never hiked in that part of the state) Loop Diamond Peak and summit it. Maybe loop the 3-sisters in a day???, Explore in the Paradise Branch area and as far as I can get over to Reid, confirm my better routes up and down Barrett, go as high as I can on Cooper Spur. That's off the top of my head anyway...the more I tick off the list, the longer it gets! :lol: (that's a good thing!)

Thanks again for all your help...look forward to seeing you out on the trail again!

Mike

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