Mt. Hood via Wy’East route

April 24-25, 1981

After a red sunset, we got a short sleep before a 4:00 a.m. start. After passing Silcox Hut and then crossing the White River Glacier, we had bare scree most of the way for quite a while. We then again put on our rope and crampons, and started up the end of the Steel Cliff. This is a variation of the Wy'East route, more difficult, but more beautiful in early season. Step cutting was necessary most of the way up the steeper slopes, but this was shared. After arriving on the upper crest of the Steel Cliff, we could look down on the Hogback ridge, and see a number of climbers on the normal route. After re-joining the Wy’East route, we continued up and around, and soon had to make a decision as to whether to follow the only tracks in view or to make new tracks where we had gone in other years. The leader decided to follow the tracks, and after cutting steps up that steep slope, had to follow the tracks back down the other side of the ridge on loose snow. We probably lost nearly two hours on this detour, and were already late due to the need for so much step cutting. We soon found steps adequate for our needs and were soon on the summit. It was nearly 5:00 p.m.

After a beautiful morning, it clouded over above and below. We started down the normal route, and after passing Crater Rock, did a sitting glissade for a ways. The snow was quite firm again, and we fund we needed to put our crampons on again, for safety and for faster movement. The clouds moved in around us, but lifted enough for us to find the upper end of the new Palmer ski lift just before dark.

In the clouds we had seen the sun, a red ball of fire with dark bars across it, and as the clouds lifted, a beautiful red sunset in the west. We followed the towers of the lift after dark, and had a light breeze with snowfall much of the way. We really had not had much wind all day. We completed the descent at 9:30 p.m., very tired, but happy with a good climb behind us. The tougher the climb, the more satisfying it is. Satisfied climbers were Pat Smith, Paula West, Robert Laney & leader Norm Benton.


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