Barrett Spur (Mt Hood) SSSSSSSS

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Chip Down
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Barrett Spur (Mt Hood) SSSSSSSS

Post by Chip Down » November 18th, 2018, 10:14 am

Semi-successful somewhat-snowy suspiciously-summery with seasonal suds

Well, I knew Saturday 11/17 would have to be the last alpine hike of the season. But what to do? Barrett Spur is a personal favorite, and I've never been this late in the year. On the way down, I poked around to the west a bit (not too much, because I've done it all, and it can be a long complicated descent) and I also went in search of Dollar Lake, because I wanted to see it frozen.

Overslept, hit the TH as the east was getting orange. That's okay, it worked out great; the sunrise and views of the mountain through the burn zone were unexpected (I've been there since the Dollar Lake fire, but had forgotten the mountain is now visible through the bare trees).

As expected, road was bare, but snowline wasn't much higher. I walked right past the Eden Park junction, due to snow, but immediately realized it. Went back 30 seconds to find it, calibrated altimeter.

What next? Up the ridge, or stay on trail? Well, trail was up and easy to follow, so continued to Wy'east basin and then worked my way up, pretty much randomly. Snow was hard. Surprising. The gentle open slopes of BS were bare, which has to be due to wind (at this elevation, other parts of the mountain are getting pretty deep). As I was ascending the lower slopes of BS, I looked over at the mountain and saw an enticing little peak I hadn't noticed before, or didn't remember anyway. Considered making that my goal for the day, but as I identified various features on the mountain, I realized it was just a point on Cathedral Ridge. D'oh! No need to do that again, especially since it would require a glacier crossing. So on I went, to the lower Barrett viewpoint. Above, the first steep part of BS was still mostly bare, but then on the crest it abruptly turned snowy. That was the opposite of what I expected.

The crest of BS was dicey. Bare is safe, deep snow is safe, but this was a treacherous mix of rock and a little snow. I reached the big open flat spot just past the top, and was surprised. I had forgotten about it. Even here, it was mostly bare. I was also surprised at how much the crest undulates on the way to the final viewpoint. Well, I was done. Continuing would be barely safe, quite unpleasant, and somewhat pointless. I wanted to see BS different, but this was quite similar to a June visit. This was turning into a nostalgia hike, which is fine, but I can do that when it's safer. Besides, turning back here allowed more fun leisurely dawdling.

So back down I went, first down the dreaded crux section, which was slightly unnerving but never scary, then down to the west, to a little parallel ridge I like to call Little Barrett Spur, then back up and over Barrett Ridge in search of Dollar Lake.

The descent to Dollar Lake isn't as scenic as the terrain over on the Gladd side, but I wanted to see the lake frozen. I was surprised to find signs of a faint trail, but I see our field guide shows there is indeed a distinct trail from Dollar to Barrett, and Google's map even shows it as the main route. Lower, I lost the trail, veered too far west. Stopped and consulted altimeter/map. Oh, Dollar is a little east of the ridge, and I was just a little too low. Okay, up a little, over the ridgecrest, poked around, found it. Not as hard as I thought it would be.

After a break at frozen Dollar, I XC'd westish until I ran into TL trail, down to Wy'east basin, then to the Vista junction where Yocum Ridge was illuminated at its finest, the low-angle sun showing just what a rugged beast it is. Down to Eden junction, where I watched the orange sun through the skeleton trees. Fantastic mood, cold and windy, fading light, dead trees, boots crunching and squeaking, felt so spooky. Arrived at my car still feeling fresh, like I could do it all again.

Weather: Sources disagreed on the forecast. NOAA said it would be a 30/30 day: 30 degrees, 30 mpg gusts. Yikes! Other sources said not so bad. Everybody agreed Sunday would better, but I took a chance. At the TH, wind was already strong. I was nervous. When I was ascending Vista Ridge, I was a little sheltered on the west side of crest, but the wind cutting through the treetops was loud (felt so weird that the bare trees weren't swaying in the wind). When I arrived at Wy'east basin, it was relatively calm, but I knew it was going to be violent high up on BS. In fact, I had been going slow so far, saving my energy for a quick run up BS followed by a fast descent. Well damn, the wind never returned. At my turnaround point at the top of BS, there was just a slight breeze. I was wearing my summer clothes, except for fleece pants that I didn't really need. That temperature/wind, combined with the lack of snow, made this almost like a summer hike. This was a stolen hike, a day that shouldn't have happened. Not a cloud all day, but on the walk back down Vista Ridge (windy and cold again) I noticed the moon was coming and going. I noticed my pack was getting frosty, and of course my car was frosty on my return, as it has been on my last few hikes.
That's the first of several high points on BS. This is where the snow started in earnest.
Same place as above, but facing the mountain. This made me nervous.
Partway up, looking back at the high point in the first pic.
Above the tricky section, on a little meta-spur (spur on the spur) that allowed a nice overview of the route so far.
That's as far as I went. Pretty sure I reached the high point (behind me). This was incredible, warm, almost calm, bare, completely defied expectations in every way.
Eliot gets all the respect, but Coe is an amazing bulldozer too. If anybody's interested, I can post crossing tips.
That little standalone ridge is weird. I call it Little Barrett Spur. I went up the permasnow on the left, then up the far side, down the long gentle crest.
The permasnow between BS and Little BS.
Looking back on my descent of Little BS.
Looking over at the Gladd region from LBS.

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Chip Down
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Re: Barrett Spur (Mt Hood) SSSSSSSS

Post by Chip Down » November 18th, 2018, 10:16 am

As I'm often inclined to do, posting the man-made stuff separately.
Dollar Lake (I know, cheesy, but I couldn't resist)

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Re: Barrett Spur (Mt Hood) SSSSSSSS

Post by adamschneider » November 18th, 2018, 11:58 am

I haven't been up there with lots of snow, but in the summer the trail from BS down to Dollar Lake is really obvious from the upper end; down near the lake, it peters out, but it's pretty still easy to find because it mostly stays right on the rim of Elk Cove the whole time.

By the way, when I've gone up or down the south (summit-facing) side of BS, I just walked on the snowfield along the bottom of the spur. I never really noticed "Little Barrett Spur."

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Re: Barrett Spur (Mt Hood) SSSSSSSS

Post by mjirving » November 19th, 2018, 6:07 am it. :D

Cool to see with some snow. Surprised there wasn’t more.

Thanks for the great report!


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Re: Barrett Spur (Mt Hood) SSSSSSSS

Post by mjanardh » November 25th, 2018, 5:13 pm

great report, have to check this out when the next opportunity presents.

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