Mt. Hood

December 31, 1989

Due to a substantial change in the weather forecast on Friday, we decided to change our climb from a “New Year’s Day Climb” to a ”last climb of the 1980’s.” All went well until about 8:00 a.m. when some clouds started coming in and the wind picked up a little speed. At this time my sister, Mary, and her husband Jay chose to return to Timberline. Jerry Crosby was kind enough to offer guide service in white out conditions for them. We continued the climb although visibility was only about 100 feet. We “pioneered” a new route, by-passing the Hogsback and coming out at the farthest right end of the crevasse. It was open but we were able to find a place we could climb over. About this time the weather began some serious deterioration as we moved into the upper position of the Chute. At the Pearly Gates there was no longer any snow — everything had turned to ice! By now the weather was real serious so it was decided we should terminate the climb and be happy to get out of there alive. As we descended, the blowing rime ice began clinging to our clothing and facial hair, while visibility was gradually being reduced to about 25-50 feet. Soon we had problems keeping ice from forming over our eyes and completely losing visibility. Ice formed on all exposed surfaces but hair such as eyebrows, beards and mustaches were an absolute magnet for ice. Johnny Bojarsky soon had ice four inches long hanging across his mouth in multiple icicles. Gene Thaxton was virtually indistinguishable from a giant walking ice cube! By now visibility was about 6 feet (remember, your feet are about 5 feet from your eyes) but occasional glimpses “with the wind” were about 25 feet. Visibility into the wind was impossible. Needless to say, finding wands placed at 100 feet was virtually impossible. When searching for wands I would have to lift the hanging ice from my eyebrows to peer out into the storm. By now our eyes were so severely pounded from driven ice I was worried about climbers becoming completely blind from wand searching, and since our progress was painfully slow we elected to take a compass bearing and go for it; after all, the next day was a holiday and no one had to go to work so why not spend some time trekking around Mt. Hood? Well, needless to say, everything worked out and we had one fine, memorable adventure. All climbers did extremely well and are to be complimented for their perseverance and inner strength. Mt. Hood climbers were Johnny Bojarsky, Jerry Crosby, Diane Frank, John Kranz, John Pegg, Jay and Mary Renaud, Gene Thaxton, Mary Vogel and Tom Donnelly (leader).

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