Mt. Hood—West Face Couloir
April 30-May 1, 1977
This was Jack Nitzel’s climb, but he knew something we didn’t,
Sam and I, paying no heed, tried it anyway.
Left Timberline Lodge 4:00 p.m. Saturday.
Hiked to Illumination Saddle at 9300' and camped at 7:30.
Three other tents occupied the saddle—a surprise considering the messy weather
(rain, snow, cloud).
We had fun awakening the occupants as we arrived.
5:30 a.m. Sunday we roped up and crossed the head of Reid Glacier, then began
a mushy slog up the couloir.
Leap-frogged with another party to conserve step-kicking energy.
Climbed into the clouds as close to a white-out as is comfortable.
Followed ridge crest until half of civilization(?) appeared out of the murk.
We eyed the throngs, then with great wisdom thought, “Oh my goodness, this
place is crawling with people; it must be the top of Mt. Hood.”
For a minute or two we gazed at the 11,000-foot level of a cloud—much
more interesting than the mere 5,000-foot level—then descended to the Hogsback.
Do you know what adds spice to a climb?
To descend a fog-shrouded ice chute surfaced with 6" of sloppy snow, without
crampons because you haven’t worn them all day and by golly aren’t
about to put them on for a mere few hundred feet.
And then the sky clears once you’re down.
The bad weather seems to bring out the Crazies—horrendous herds of Mazamas
were trudging up the Southside cattle trail.
We hurried back to Illumination, packed up and hiked in nonstop overdrive
to Timberline in 45 minutes.
Reached it at 12:30.
At 12:45 we blew up my car radiator (!@x//).
Nothing very positive to say about this climb, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Just a fairly typical weekend.
And I gotta go up the same heap of rock next weekend too!—Sam Miller,
co-leader and rear guard with
as leader this week.