Winter access to McNeil Point area?

Trip recommendations, current conditions, and other trail related Q&A
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CyrusK.
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Winter access to McNeil Point area?

Post by CyrusK. » November 29th, 2018, 8:47 pm

I'm a huge fan of the west side of Mt. Hood, and have spend many a day hike exploring the McNeil Point / Yocum ridge area. Unfortunately, I've never had the opportunity to get up there in winter. I've recently been trying to expand my backcountry horizons, and have had my eye on the wild side of Mt. Hood for a while. One thing in particular caught my eye: a steep couloir that cuts diagonally through the northern edge of the Sandy headwall. I cuts down from the rock that marks the point where Top Spur meets Gladd ridge at the top of the Glisan headwall, descending onto the Sandy glacier proper. Needless to say, this would have a very high avalanche risk, meaning it's definitely an early season or late season line.

sandy-glacier-mt-hood-national-forest-or-8x8.jpg
The "Diagonal Couloir" cuts through the ridgeline in the upper left, right where the Glisan and Sandy headwalls meet.
2.jpg
Here's another view (It's a little bit up and to the right of the little arrow).
2.jpg (25.71 KiB) Viewed 196 times

Getting there, obviously, is a problem. I figured I might be able to start at the Lolo Pass Snopark, which is probably the best route, as the actual Top Spur Trailhead (or even the Mazama / Cathedral Ridge trailhead, which would work too) would most likely be too snow-covered to attempt. The next option would maybe be the Ramona Falls Trailhead or just starting from Timberline and traversing over the Reid. In any case, it might necessitate a two-day trip. Any suggestions?
Last edited by CyrusK. on December 2nd, 2018, 2:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Cyrus "Ice" K.

Webfoot
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Re: Winter access to McNeil Point area?

Post by Webfoot » November 29th, 2018, 10:25 pm

Are you thinking of doing this as soon as possible, or in the heart of winter?

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Chip Down
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Re: Winter access to McNeil Point area?

Post by Chip Down » November 30th, 2018, 5:41 am

This is stupid. You shouldn't even try it. And I look forward to the TR :D
I've gone up there on the Mazama trail in November, but pretty soon that won't be possible (maybe right now it's not possible). The Timberline approach might be best.

Below is an expanded version of your second pic. The left arrow is your goal, right? The right arrow is Illumination Saddle, which is a quick easy hike from the lodge. The terrain in between is pretty tough, but it sounds like you're up for a glacier crossing or two, and with everything under snow it shouldn't be too bad.

By the way, you know you're crazy, right? ;)
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walkinginawinterwonderland.jpg

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retired jerry
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Re: Winter access to McNeil Point area?

Post by retired jerry » November 30th, 2018, 6:29 am

A lot of the time Lolo Pass Road is clear to Lolo Pass, then it's not so far. I'm a fan of west side too.

"The right arrow is Illumination Saddle, which is a quick easy hike from the lodge."

It's straightforward from there down to Yocum Ridge, although you do have to walk across Reid Glacier. There's your Mt Hood high route :)

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CyrusK.
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Re: Winter access to McNeil Point area?

Post by CyrusK. » November 30th, 2018, 3:53 pm

While I could probably get there from Timberline like you said, it’ll probably still end up being a late season run (snow should last pretty long in that cleft). Yes, I know it’s absolutely insane :lol:. Do you guys know when the trailheads (or Lolo pass) should thaw out enough to get there?
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retired jerry
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Re: Winter access to McNeil Point area?

Post by retired jerry » November 30th, 2018, 4:06 pm

It just depends. Depending on the year, there are times at any date when you can drive up to Lolo Pass. A lot of times there will be no snow in January, then early spring there will be a bunch more snow.

https://www.fs.fed.us/r5/webmaps/Sierra ... lon=-121.7 is pretty good

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CyrusK.
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Re: Winter access to McNeil Point area?

Post by CyrusK. » December 1st, 2018, 10:03 am

Thanks for the link! :D
Cyrus "Ice" K.

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CyrusK.
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Re: Winter access to McNeil Point area?

Post by CyrusK. » December 1st, 2018, 10:04 am

Webfoot wrote:
November 29th, 2018, 10:25 pm
Are you thinking of doing this as soon as possible, or in the heart of winter?
Doing this in the heart of winter is asking for an avalanche.
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Water
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Re: Winter access to McNeil Point area?

Post by Water » December 2nd, 2018, 11:16 am

without avalanche training and understanding of the cycles and current conditions, yes. But to suggest climbing around the mountain in the winter begs an avalanche is overstating things a lot.
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CyrusK.
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Re: Winter access to McNeil Point area?

Post by CyrusK. » December 2nd, 2018, 2:01 pm

Water wrote:
December 2nd, 2018, 11:16 am
without avalanche training and understanding of the cycles and current conditions, yes. But to suggest climbing around the mountain in the winter begs an avalanche is overstating things a lot.
Of course, of course (it's a hyperbole, overstating things is the point). Nevertheless, even if good ol' Cascade concrete doesn't produce a lot of avalanches, it's still avy terrain. Even too much slough could be dangerous in a couloir like that.
Cyrus "Ice" K.

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