Mt Hood: Snowdome (update, summer edition added)

Discussions and Trip Reports for off-trail adventures and rediscovering lost trails
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Chip Down
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Mt Hood: Snowdome (update, summer edition added)

Post by Chip Down » October 4th, 2018, 7:48 pm

Between Eliot Glacier and Coe Glacier is Snowdome (SnowDome, Snow Dome, Snow-Dome, I've seen it all). I wanted to ascend a striking rib that separates Eliot from Snowdome, then continue west to the edge of Coe, down to Mooney Tarn (aka Recession Lakes).

The Eliot crossing had a special bonus waiting for me: everything in the spay zone was iced over. I was able to find a narrow/deep/fast spot where the entire flow could be jumped on a single leap.

Worked my way up between Eliot's west moraine and Langille Crags, in beautiful but overly-familiar terrain. Finally, at the bottom of my rib, at 8100', I was in new territory. Dilemma: don crampons and walk quickly up snow to the side, or suffer up the rib, some of which was glacier polished. I decided on the slower rocky option, figuring I'd get better views a few feet higher.

The top of the rib came soon enough, about 800' higher. I crossed a bit of snow to one last rocky spot, where I turned back (about 9000').

To get over to Coe Glacier, I had to drop down almost to the top of Langille Crags in order to avoid Snowdome crevasses. I discovered more complexity than anticipated to the west of Langille. There was so much to explore, I didn't even know where to start. I decided to visit a mini-tarn, then drop the pack and explore a bit, hitting a variety of viewpoints.

Dropping to Mooney/recession was my last challenge. I was committed: If I failed and had to ascend back over Langille, it would have been brutal. But it went even better than expected, as I was able to link a series of snowfields, then an easy ridge, and finally just a little bit of unpleasant rubble to the final snowfield above Mooney Tarn, and then an easy hike down to the Timberline Trail (took a different variant this time, worked great).

The first time all day that I saw free-running water with no ice was when I crossed Eliot Creek on the trail, late afternoon

Didn't see another mammal all day.

Delighted with my decision to bring crampons. Lots of that dreaded new-over-old snow, places where water had run over snow and froze, even the best spots would have been tough to kick steps into.

I've been told Snowdome isn't a glacier. The features that look like crevasses are actually just cracks that have opened as the permasnow creeps down the mountain. Tomayto, tomahto.
Attachments
0.jpg
Eliot Glacier is often viewed from Cooper Spur. Here's what it looks like on the other side.
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At the base of the spine, last place to rest in a windbreak before starting up.
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Same spot, looking up my route.
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That's as high as I got.
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Skirting crevasses on Snowdome on my way to Coe.
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This viewpoint exceeded my expectations. Coe Glacier. From a great distance (way over by Eliot) I head what sounded like rockfall, but it was too muffled, and I realized it could only be the Coe icefall. Wish I'd seen it.
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Barrett Spur and the Coe Glacier.
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Looking down on Mooney.
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Notice the fringe of ice on Mooney.
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My brother dipped this in the water at Pacific City and then gave it to me so I could haul it up a mountain.
Last edited by Chip Down on July 28th, 2019, 10:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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mjirving
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Re: Mt Hood: Snowdome

Post by mjirving » October 5th, 2018, 5:09 am

Nice work. Very cool. I hope to have my Mt Hood High Route post up today or tomorrow. I went through this same area...fun to compare notes.

Mike

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retired jerry
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Re: Mt Hood: Snowdome

Post by retired jerry » October 5th, 2018, 5:17 am

that's what I was thinking about mjis high route :)

pcg
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Re: Mt Hood: Snowdome

Post by pcg » October 5th, 2018, 9:57 am

I’ve done “the high route” in pieces. Now (October or later) is the time to do this if you are solo - when everything is frozen, no snow bridges of new snow, and crevasses are open and obvious. Have your self-arrest down because some of it is steep. Oh yes, no people as well.:)

On getting from Elliot to Coe, I’ve never found the crevasses on Snowdome to be a problem (nothing like the Elliot), but you do need to drop down to avoid rock and icefall on the Coe.
Last edited by pcg on October 5th, 2018, 10:31 am, edited 4 times in total.

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BurnsideBob
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Re: Mt Hood: Snowdome

Post by BurnsideBob » October 5th, 2018, 10:05 am

Thanks for sharing a truly outstanding adventure.

Kudos to you.
I keep making protein shakes but they always turn out like margaritas.

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mountainkat
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Re: Mt Hood: Snowdome

Post by mountainkat » October 5th, 2018, 1:13 pm

Very cool. I've only seen ski reports on this. That view in the first photo is awesome. I enjoy reading your posts, thanks!

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Chip Down
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Re: Mt Hood: Snowdome

Post by Chip Down » July 28th, 2019, 10:45 am

Back for more fun, a little different route this time. So sit right back and you'll hear a tale...a three glacier tour, a three glacier tour.

Brief recap of my previous trip, presented for background and comparison: Last time I crossed Eliot low (the old roped crossing), veered away from the west moraine early, ascended the faint rib that runs between Eliot Glacier and Snow Dome, descended part way and then veered over towards Coe, explored down around Langille, Mooney, to the Timberline Trail.

The plan this time was to explore Eliot a little, climb out of the canyon around the top end of the west moraine, then through Langille Pass, over to Langille Glacier, ascend Snow Dome on the west side for views of Coe Glacier.

Eliot terminus: Last weekend I noticed some changes to the Eliot terminus. The east terminus no longer featured a distinct portal. The lowest extent of the ice pretty much just looked like a snowfield. Disappointing. But from the east moraine, I thought I saw a decent portal on the west terminus. I wanted a closer look. Like last weekend, I dropped in at the old roped crossing and headed upstream. Last weekend the spray zone on the creek had coated the rocks with ice, so a hopacross would be treacherous. There was a snowbridge still, but it looked shaky. But it didn't matter last weekend, because I was content to stay on the east side as I ascended to the glacier. This time, I wanted to get to the west side, but water was high, probably more than I've seen here before. Snowbridge was gone (reinforcing my suspicion it wasn't safe). Even above the confluence of east/west forks, I still couldn't get across, so went up to the east terminus and crossed on snow, then down and west. The west terminus disappointed. Although it still has the appearance of an actual glacier terminus, it was pretty sad. Continued up the rubble and found a couple spots where the creek emerged from the mantled ice, so that was fun.

Eliot high crossing, escape to the west moraine: I've always thought crossing the Eliot at the high end of the west moraine would be fun, but probably extremely dangerous. Been reading up on it though, and it looked doable. In fact, GoalTech Mike said it should be a piece of cake for me. I relied on some great reports here, and I especially acknowledge adamschneider's contributions (several years ago, but still generally valid). I considered a shortcut straight up the moraine wall at a spot where it's gentle, but I wasn't here for fast and easy, so continued up the snowfield variations. When I gained the west moraine, I saw what I figured was coming: some tricky terrain between me and Langille Pass. It went really well though, courtesy of a snowy route partway up a breach in the cliffs.

Langille Glacier: At this point I had accomplished what I came to do, but it was way too early to go home. Decided to repeat my Snow Dome loop, but in reverse, and hopefully up higher on the Coe side. On my way to Langille Glacier, I stubbornly stayed high. Big hassle traversing rocky snowy slopes. Wish I had dropped to Mooney, or at least part way until the slope eased up. I passed my previous descent route and continued to the true Langille Glacier, not that stupid snowfield above Mooney that everybody calls Langille Glacier. The real Langille Glacier is longer, starts higher, terminates lower. You can imagine it's a stagnant glacier. (Yeah, I know that thing above Mooney must have been a glacier at some point, but come on.) By the time I got to the top of Langille, I wished I had put on my crampons long ago, but I was back on rock again, at least briefly, followed by gentle easy snow slopes as I followed the east edge of the Coe canyon.

Snow Dome West: I reached the Coe overlook where my previous descent started, and continued up into new terrain. Last time, it was getting late, and I knew I'd better not risk it. It went well for a while, but I could see that higher up there were crevasses running right up to the rocks along the edge of Coe canyon, and those rocks weren't climbable right up the crest. My only hope was to pass rock on the left, (using the right edge of Snow Dome) and look for access onto climbable rock, before the first crevasse. This is where the crampons finally went on. I was sandwiched between steep rock on my right, and crevasses on my left. A moat kept me from hugging the rock (because I knew the snow might be undercut). So yeah, it was precarious; I had to chose my route carefully. I saw a number of easy scramble routes, and a number of spots where the moat wasn't a problem, but never the two together (in the places where I could get to the rock, it wasn't safe to ascend, unstable and steep). So there it is. I weighed every option, tried every possibility, nothing panned out. Tail tucked, I dropped until I could safely cross Snow Dome, and headed for Eliot.

Descent to Eliot: Crossing Snow Dome, I encountered more surface runoff than I've ever seen on a glacier. None of the streams reached bottom, they all sank into mini moulins. When I reached the rib that runs up the east side of Snow Dome, I couldn't bring myself to descend. The weather was perfect (partly cloudy, slight breeze, the annoying wind I'd been fighting all day was gone), and Eliot was looking especially lovely (fantastic seracs right now, capped with this season's whiter layer). From the highest rock, I had a looooong standing glissade, ideal conditions, immensely fun. I dropped into a bowl, which then dropped steeply towards Mooney. It was uncomfortably steep, and I didn't want to climb back out from Mooney, so I backtracked up a bit, cut over towards Eliot, and pretty much followed my morning ascent route. I was dreading the up/down/up/down crumbly mantled-Eliot crossing, but it wasn't that bad, found quite a bit of hidden snow fingers along the way. Struggled to find the bottom of the east moraine trail, as so many others have. It's obvious from a distance, but disappears when you're at the bottom of the moraine. I actually had more trouble finding it than I did last weekend, probably because of my angle of approach, or possibly just luck.

Next time: I want to cross Eliot at the stupid new trail, follow Timberline to the east fork of Coe Creek, follow it up into some pleasant parkland between Coe and Langille, then continue to where I failed, and take another shot at it (earlier, when crevasses are covered and moat hasn't opened). Should be done as soon as Cloudcap Road is open.

Trivia: Eliot gets all the attention, but Coe has the lowest terminus on Hood.
Attachments
0.jpg
Eliot Glacier. A little higher, and then I'll turn right to gain the moraine.
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Coe Glacier. I'm following as close as I can to the left edge.
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A little higher.
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Approaching goal, that flat topped viewpoint.
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Looking down Coe, at left is Barrett Spur.
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Looking through the Barrett/Pulpit gap.
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Although I got a little higher, this was my highest view of Coe Glacier.
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Cooper Spur over there across Eliot. Tie In Rock at left.
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It would be so easy to cross Eliot there. Nice shortcut. Too risky though.
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With a little anxiety about routfinding across Eliot, and in the clouds up high, I figured a little help from Wayfinder could come in handy.
Last edited by Chip Down on July 28th, 2019, 7:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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retired jerry
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Re: Mt Hood: Snowdome (update, summer edition added)

Post by retired jerry » July 28th, 2019, 7:39 pm

Nice report, thanks.

How was the crossing of Eliot on the trail? Is there a log or are there easy rocks to hop?

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Chip Down
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Re: Mt Hood: Snowdome

Post by Chip Down » July 28th, 2019, 7:50 pm

Sorry Jerry, can't help you with that.
I reworded a sentence above to make it a little more clear I wasn't on trail yesterday.

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retired jerry
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Re: Mt Hood: Snowdome (update, summer edition added)

Post by retired jerry » July 29th, 2019, 6:22 am

oh, I thought you said you crossed on trail

(what the hxxx would Chip be doing going down there anyway...:) )

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