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Cooper Spur 2021/11/13

Posted: November 14th, 2021, 6:03 pm
by rubiks
Photo of the Day:
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Adams has some snow again

Saturday was supposed to be sunny and dry, which meant picking a hike with some views. Based on weather forecasts and Timberline webcams, the bet was that the warm rain on Thursday and Friday had melted enough snow to make Cooper Spur accessible mid-November. That was more or less the case. The only showstopper all day came right at the start. The plan was to start at Cloud Cap, but the road up to Cloud Cap was gated so we had to start at the Tilly Jane sno park instead. What's a few extra miles and few extra thousand feet elevation gain between friends?

My car was the first one at the trailhead at 7am, and we hit the trail a few minutes later. The first stretch was a bit damp. We passed a guy coming down the trail maybe half a mile in, then didn't see another soul all the way to the top. I wonder where he was coming from. The skies were clear, and once on the ridge the views started opening up.
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First mountain views, on the Tilly Jane ski trail

The A-frame and campground were 99% snow free. Beyond that, we began encountering small patches of snow here and there, finally getting significant coverage at the Timberline Trail junction. We stopped and the junction to put on spikes, then popped over to the Cooper Spur shelter to snap a few pictures before continuing up the spur.
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Cooper Spur shelter and Mt Hood

The rain and subsequent freezing temps gave the snow a nice glaze. The conditions were fine for spikes, although crampons might have been a bit better. I only had hiking poles, while my hiking buddy had an ice axe. I managed with my sticks, but wished I'd brought my ice axe as well. We were prepared to turn around if conditions were too bad, but never had to.
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Starting up, just past the last trees
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Snow conditions on the way up

Weather on the way up and at the top was top notch. Sunny, warm, and very little wind. We couldn't have asked for better conditions.
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Warm for mid-November, at least
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Beautiful rime ice near the summit

We passed maybe a dozen more folks on the way down. We did a mix of following the trail switchbacks when we could, and otherwise taking a more direct express route down. The lower slopes were shallow enough for a little glissading.
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Sometimes-visible trail

We skipped the shelter on the way down, stopped at the A-frame for a bite to eat, then took the Polallie ridge trail back down to the trailhead.

Re: Cooper Spur 2021/11/13

Posted: November 14th, 2021, 6:44 pm
by Chip Down
I'm amazed at all that bare ground up there, considering reports of people unable to drive roads at 3000' on Thursday, if I'm remembering correctly.

Anyway, that's a nice trail. Too bad you got such a late start. ;)

I once encountered a guy coming down that trail early in the morning. He was headed to work. Yep, he was living on the mountain for the summer. Beast! :shock: Makes me feel wimpy when I complain about my commute.

Re: Cooper Spur 2021/11/13

Posted: November 14th, 2021, 7:07 pm
by Peder
Great timing! I wimped out and hiked Silver Falls Saturday, as the forecast warned of wind on Mt Hood. If I had not been sandblasted in Mt Margaret Backcountry two weeks ago, I would have ignored the projected wind speeds... Preparation for hikes is sometimes overrated!

Re: Cooper Spur 2021/11/13

Posted: November 14th, 2021, 8:05 pm
by rubiks
Chip Down wrote:
November 14th, 2021, 6:44 pm
I'm amazed at all that bare ground up there, considering reports of people unable to drive roads at 3000' on Thursday, if I'm remembering correctly.
All that rain later in the week did a number on the snowpack. Not so good for skiers, but great for hikers. I also wonder if maybe the east side of the mountain never had as much snow in the first place.

Peder wrote:
November 14th, 2021, 7:07 pm
Great timing! I wimped out and hiked Silver Falls Saturday, as the forecast warned of wind on Mt Hood. If I had not been sandblasted in Mt Margaret Backcountry two weeks ago, I would have ignored the projected wind speeds... Preparation for hikes is sometimes overrated!
I can't blame you for that. I was also out two weeks ago, getting the same sandblasting you had but on Chinidere and Tomlike instead.

We definitely lucked out with the wind. The forecasts had us expecting 20-30 mph winds, and they just never materialized. All morning it was dead calm, and at the top around 11am it was maybe 10 mph.