Newton Clark Ridge/Moraine, 8/31/19

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adamschneider
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Newton Clark Ridge/Moraine, 8/31/19

Post by adamschneider » September 3rd, 2019, 2:16 pm

I haven't been up to Mt. Hood at all yet this year, so on Saturday I decided to hike up Newton Clark Ridge. (This is not its official name, but it's between Clark Creek and Newton Creek, and below Newton Clark Glacier. Skiers sometimes call it "Pea Gravel Ridge.") I was there once before, more than ten years ago, but I wanted to go a little farther this time, and the weather was better.

I started from the main Mt. Hood Meadows parking lot and worked my way up service roads and deer paths to the Timberline Trail. Most of the flowers finished pretty early this year; at this point it was mostly pearly everlasting, goldenrod, and one or two kinds of asters.
1 late-summer wildflowers.jpg

Descending into Heather/Clark Canyon, I got a side view of the ridge. Note that a landslide forced a rerouting of the Timberline Trail coming up from Clark Creek:
2 Newton Clark Ridge.jpg

From the bottom, there's a nice morning view up the mountain:
3 Heather Canyon.jpg

Just to be different, I decided to go straight up the side of the moraine instead of picking up the crest where it crosses the Timberline Trail. I'm not completely insane though; I at least waited until I got to a section that was covered in manzanita. Still an awfully steep (and loose) climb up to 6100' though.

Once on top of the ridge, there's not much guesswork about where to go. Just a steady climb up the crest:
4 ridgecrest.jpg

There's a nice view down to the waterfalls on Clark Creek:
5 Clark Creek Falls.jpg

And an ever better view of the amazing waterfalls that come down the southwest side of Gnarl Ridge ("Newton Creek Falls," according to waterfallsnorthwest.com):
6 Newton Creek Falls.jpg

Between 7400' and 7500', there are three "gendarmes" on the ridge. I hesitate to use that term, because they're not all that big, but they do present a challenge. The first one is big, but not too much trouble; you can inch your way around it on the south side or just climb right over the top:
7 gendarme 1.jpg

The second one is tricky because the ridge slopes away very steeply on either side. This time, I clung to the north side:
8 gendarme 2.jpg

The third one is much smaller, but it's the worst. The ridge on the downhill side is a knife-edge of sand and rocks that aren't even remotely glued down. On the way down, I ended up scooting on my butt for about ten feet after getting past the big boulder. (And I don't even remember whether I went to the right or left side.)
9 gendarme 3.jpg

After that, it was relatively smooth sailing. Down to the left, there were some cool-looking hanging gardens (mostly monkeyflower, I'm guessing) that would be an enormous pain to get to:
10 hanging gardens.jpg

The best close-up views of the mountain were from just past the gendarmes; as I got closer, the summit started hiding behind the nearer cliffs. Here's one where you can still see everything:
11 end of the ridge.jpg

In the next photo, you can see where the light gray broken moraine material ends and gives way to pinkish solid (or what I thought was solid) rock. I decided to scramble up a little further, and kinda regretted it; the rock was absolutely horrible. 50% of the holds I tried came right out in my hand. Good thing no one was below me!
12 scramble.jpg

Once I got up onto bigger chunkier talus, it wasn't so bad. I topped out just above 8000' and hung out at the base of the gray cliff for a while (is this the feature that Chip Down calls the "Newton Clark Prow"?). Here's a view of the cliff bands above Gnarl Ridge:
13 north view.jpg

...and a shot of the summit and Newton Clark Glacier:
14 high point.jpg

Some really cool clouds were forming and then disappearing in the lee of Hood's summit, so I shot about 20 minutes of time-lapse video. I ended up doing this twice more, once near Clark Creek and once in the parking lot at the end of the day; here's the result:



And then it was time to head back down — which turned out to be much trickier than going up, since gravity was now conspiring with my feet to dislodge rocks and try to send me hurtling down the moraine...
15 the whole ridge.jpg

This time I went the "normal" way and continued down the ridge until I found the Timberline Trail and the Mt. Hood Wilderness sign. (Newton Clark Ridge is the boundary between the wilderness and the ski area for its entire length.) There's no actual trail through the wooded section of the ridgecrest, but it's fairly open and I only had to dodge one or two fallen trees.

I couldn't believe how many tourists I passed on my way out; apparently it's a thing to take the Stadium Express lift up from the MHM main lodge and then hike down to see the Heather Canyon waterfalls.

Google Earth view of my route:

Image
Last edited by adamschneider on September 4th, 2019, 11:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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mjirving
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Re: Newton Clark Ridge, 8/31/19

Post by mjirving » September 3rd, 2019, 4:39 pm

Cool! Interesting views. Here is a pic of your “hanging gardens”.
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adamschneider
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Re: Newton Clark Ridge, 8/31/19

Post by adamschneider » September 3rd, 2019, 4:48 pm

mjirving wrote:
September 3rd, 2019, 4:39 pm
Cool! Interesting views. Here is a pic of your “hanging gardens”.
Did you go down from the ridge or up from Heather Canyon to get there?

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mjirving
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Re: Newton Clark Ridge, 8/31/19

Post by mjirving » September 3rd, 2019, 5:05 pm

I crossed over Super Bowl and then up to where you were (and then across under Newton-Clark Glacier). It was on my recent High Route loop that I need to put a trip report in on. Super cool.

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Re: Newton Clark Ridge, 8/31/19

Post by adamschneider » September 3rd, 2019, 6:09 pm

mjirving wrote:
September 3rd, 2019, 5:05 pm
I crossed over Super Bowl and then up to where you were (and then across under Newton-Clark Glacier). It was on my recent High Route loop that I need to put a trip report in on. Super cool.
While I was up there, I actually googled your "high route" reports to see if you'd been up in this neighborhood, but I only found the 2018 one where you stayed low on the east side.

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mjirving
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Re: Newton Clark Ridge, 8/31/19

Post by mjirving » September 3rd, 2019, 6:21 pm

Yeah, I did it the weekend before this last one in 4 days. Averaged 0.5 mph...ha! It was very challenging, but the most amazing thing I've ever done...and I've done some pretty cool stuff. I hope to get a mini-report out in the next couple days and then a full report out...sometime. I went CCW this time instead of CW (to mix it up) and went high under N-C, high on Glisan and high(er) on White River. It was pretty sweet.

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Chip Down
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Re: Newton Clark Ridge, 8/31/19

Post by Chip Down » September 3rd, 2019, 6:58 pm

What fun!

Regarding that re-route up the moraine slope from Clark Creek: Was it pretty secure? Last time I was there (maybe about 4 years ago?) it was sketchy, but your pic makes me think it's been re-established pretty well.

Nice to see that view of Newton Creek Falls. I followed that creek up from the canyon bottom a couple years ago, so it's neat to see what it looks like from a distance (i.e. visible all at once).

I agree that following that ridgecrest all the way is a bit unnerving in spots. Anybody doing this route should be in the state of mind that it's okay to retreat if it doesn't feel safe.

From the high end of the moraine, many have tried to continue up the prow, and have found it unpleasant. I'm a member of that club. I've curved around right and scrambled up, and it was just as awful. Best route is to the left, but you have to drop quite a ways to a ramp.

Those "cliff bands above Gnarl Ridge" are a neat feature.

Your NC Glacier pic intrigues me, the way the waterfall feeds a creek that sinks into the rubble, and the lack of the icefall that I've seen there (with big ice blocks at the base of the cliff).

Highly recommended reading, a blog post by our Tom/Splintercat (read the comments as well):
https://wyeastblog.org/2011/11/26/the-n ... k-moraine/

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markesc
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Re: Newton Clark Ridge, 8/31/19

Post by markesc » September 3rd, 2019, 8:37 pm

Wow!

Now that's an adventure!

Thank you for sharing! That glacier looks SO close @ the end, but probably extreme danger any higher from where you left off.

Thanks for sharing!

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Re: Newton Clark Ridge, 8/31/19

Post by adamschneider » September 4th, 2019, 11:11 am

Chip Down wrote:
September 3rd, 2019, 6:58 pm
Regarding that re-route up the moraine slope from Clark Creek: Was it pretty secure? Last time I was there (maybe about 4 years ago?) it was sketchy, but your pic makes me think it's been re-established pretty well.
It's secure for now, but it's on a moraine, so who knows. Google Earth imagery shows that the new trail didn't exist as of a year ago, so this is a pretty recent development.
Chip Down wrote:From the high end of the moraine, many have tried to continue up the prow, and have found it unpleasant. I'm a member of that club. I've curved around right and scrambled up, and it was just as awful. Best route is to the left, but you have to drop quite a ways to a ramp.
Well then I'm glad I didn't try; I'd had enough of crappy rock by that point. The right side didn't look like it'd be TOO bad going up, but going down always sucks worse.

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Re: Newton Clark Ridge/Moraine, 8/31/19

Post by Schrauf » September 4th, 2019, 7:27 pm

I followed in your footsteps the day after you on Sunday. Literally, and I was surprised to see footprints this time of year with the constant wind up there.

I was attempting to do GoalTech's high route from Cloud Cap to Timberline, but the wind was really gusty and I didn't like the look of the downclimb to the hanging gardens just south of the moraine, nor the climb higher up on other steep moraines beyond above the White River Glacier, so I exited down the Newton Clark Moraine. I agree the top part is dicey in spots. I went over the top of the largest, lowest of those three gendarmes, and around the side of the higher two. I don't recall the details but am not enthusiastic about ever doing it again. But I have no rock climbing experience and a slight fear of heights, so others would probably have a much easier time.

For what its worth I thought the high route up to that point from Cloud Cap was surprisingly easy, so I'm not totally worthless. =D I do want to try the high route again from Timberline, but don't want to plan on using the Newton Clark Moraine as an exit route.

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