Skiers: Erik Schmidt and Lindsey Clark
The last few weeks have been full of quintessential summer activities: canoe camping, slacklining, beer drinking, and vegetable gardening. So when we decided to head to Portland for some city-style partying and ski the north side of Hood on the way back home, the idea seemed like a good one. The north side of Hood is an outstanding place to spend a warm summer day!
We arrived at Cloud Cap around 9:30 PM on Saturday night and were in our truck camper sleeping by 10:30. We were up at 4:30 AM, took care of business, and were hiking up the Timberline trail by 5:30.
|Pre-dawn starts are never easy...|
Topping out on the Eliot glacier moraine for dawn views of Mt. Hood can’t be beat.
|On the Eliot glacier moraine at sunrise|
We cruised up the moraine, then traversed over to the rock shelter, which we reached around 7:30.
|Mt. Hood's rock shelter. Air guitar mandatory.|
Did I mention that the entire lower mountain is in bloom right now? Wow.
From the rock shelter, we made our way up toward the Cooper Spur. Erik booted straight up some patchy snow (he was in ski boots), I followed the faint trail along the edge of the moraine (I was in approach shoes). We seemed to make similar time, except I had drool-worthy views of the Eliot glacier icefall all the way up!
Along the way, we noticed two black specks moving toward the summit. At around 8:30, they started their descent. I yelled over to Erik, “check it out, I think those two climbers are skiers!” They were indeed, and we got to watch their solid ski descent off the summit. Rad!
We crossed paths with the two skiers at their bivouac site at around 8,500 feet. Turns out one of them was a Mt. Hood climbing ranger and had met some friends of ours during the Mt. Hood leg of their Cascade Challenge a few weeks prior. Gotta love our tiny Oregon backcountry ski community...
|The Cooper Spur climbing (and skiing!) route|
Finally at around 8,700 feet or so the snow on the ridge was continuous and it was time to put on my ski boots. We continued to walk up the ridge, as it never made sense to put on skins. In fact, we didn’t use our skins at all that day. Made for a slow ascent for sure.
Once we were about 6 hours in and about 4,000 vertical feet up, my legs had turned to complete Jell-O. After falling in the bootpack twice, I decided to call it my high point at around 9,300 feet. Have I mentioned my recent fascination with hammocks? Erik continued up the boot pack for another 20 minutes, to about 10,000 feet.
|Erik in the boot pack|
The ski down was fun, but pretty mellow. We considered skiing left and down onto Eliot glacier, but it didn't look like we'd get much vert before we were back on the rocks. Granted, those few turns would have been nice and steep, and with a fun berschrund crossing.
We ended up skiing to our right and onto the Newton Clark glacier. Picking a line between an open crevasse and a rock wall is always fun! We got around a 2,000 vertical foot descent. Most of it was very nice corn snow, which eventually transitioned into a runnelled nightmare. Jibbing off runnels is pretty challenging when you have Jell-O legs!
|Avoiding a crevasse off to my right... sweet turns on Newton Clark glacier|
We followed the Timberline trail back to the rock shelter, then back down the moraine to Cloud Cap. The maze of trails up there gets a little confusing, and neither of us wanted to end up at Tilly Jane rather than Cloud Cap.
|From our walk down the Timberline Trail... Mt. Adams in the distance|
It's usually rather entertaining to hike down a trail covered in dirt and rocks after a day of summer skiing. I've been asked lots of funny questions about my skis by bewildered hikers and sightseers on a variety of mountains. On this day however, the trails were full of savvy people generally asking after the quality of the snow and our turns. Awesome.
I hope to get back out there this summer, as Snowdome looks to be in great shape! The road to Cloud Cap is finally open, the crevasses on Eliot are open as well, and there is sweet, sweet corn to be had hopefully until the snow starts flying again!
More photos here: