Mt. Hood—Wy’East Rt.
May 7-8, 1977
After a week of heavy snow is NOT the time to try this route. Four of us left Timberline Saturday afternoon in a 34° snowstorm. Well-soaked by the time we reached Silcox Hut. Dried off, then headed towards the White River Glacier moraine.
Bud and Steve would be following us after dark, so we wanded our route as we set off through two feet of fresh snow. Camped at about 8000 feet. Lay awake listening to the blowing snow blasting the tents, and wondering how Bud and Steve were doing following our route via flashlight. They camped before reaching us, and arrived at our camp at 5.0O a.m. The sky had cleared to a brilliantly crisp blue, with 20° temperature.
We followed the Southside trench to the base of Steel Cliff, then crossed the White River Glacier and the moraines beyond. The new snow was up to waist deep. We muscled through it up the steep slopes, taking turns in the lead. Sam stepped through a hidden crevasse, so we deemed it time to rope up. By 11:00 a.m. worn down by the soft snow, we reached the top of Steel Cliff (10,500'). The sky below had been clouding in all morning, and now the clouds lifted to surround us. With the deep snow, threatening weather, late hour, and the crux of the climb still ahead, we conceded Steel Cliff would have to be our summit for the day.
As we began the descent, Steve’s pack went flying down Newton-Clark Glacier, luckily catching in a crevasse near the top. He retrieved it, then we pushed on down in hot, humid weather. And naturally, the mountain was in clear skies when we returned to Timberline.
Though we missed the summit, everyone was satisfied with the climb and the views of a different side of the mountain. There’s more to climbing than reaching the summit; those who are blind to this are missing much of the satisfaction of climbing. Probably the best Obsidian party I’ve climbed with—Steve John, Sam Miller, Pete Pollard, Bud Proctor, Bruce Utsey and leader Bert Ewing.