Mt. Hood

May 1-2, 1987

The leader picked up Rob at his home at 5:30 p.m. Friday, and Mardi met us at the Corvallis-Lebanon interchange. The campgrounds above Rhododendron were still closed, so we stayed outside one. We got up at 2 a.m., and when we arrived at the parking lot near the day lodge at Timberline, we were surprised to find only about 5 cars there. We wondered if other climbers knew something we didn’t about the weather. The weather had not been good the last couple of days, but we intended to give it a try, anyway. We started climbing at 3:45 a.m., and had only a gentle breeze. Snow conditions were not good. Snow cats had apparently not been working lately. We found firm wind-swept ridges, with snow drifted between these ridges. Some of these ridges were very narrow, making it difficult to avoid plunging into the deeper snow alongside. It was often like trying to walk a tight rope. In some areas, it was not so bad. At times, we had to plow through drifts up to a foot deep. All of this was tiring and time consuming. It was snowing heavily, and the wind picked up, blowing in from the west. At least this was better than from the usual northwest. With the drifts, and with relatively poor visibility, the decision was made to change from the intended Wy-East route to the normal south-side route. We met a number of climbers turning back, and inquiry each time revealed worse conditions above. The leader planned to stop at the upper terminal of the Palmer lift to ask opinions as to whether we should proceed upward. He stopped at about 8200' to ask if everyone had an adequate “tunnel” on their parka hoods, to keep the wind off the face. Rob did not. His mustache was iced up, and his face, hands and feet were all cold. He planned to turn back at the upper terminal. He knew he would be unable to put on his crampons, with such cold hands. We talked it over, and decided to turn back there. It just wasn’t worth it to keep going on in such conditions. Rob’s hands were not warming up, so we dug out other mittens for him, and after a while they did warm up. We returned to the car at 8:15 a.m., finding 2 inches of snow on it already. Satisfied with a good climb, even though unsuccessful, we were back in Eugene before noon. Climbers were: nonmembers Mardi Keltner and Rob Laney; Obsidian Norm Benton (leader).

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