ount Hood, Black Spider, Center Drip, New Route
On March 6, 2010, Wayne Wallace and Beau Carillo climbed the central ice line on the “Black Spider,” the volcanic headwall above the Newton-Clark Glacier on Mount Hood. For Wallace, this capped a 20+ year obsession with the face during which he climbed several new routes and made more than a dozen attempts on the “Center Drip,” which he regarded as the best line (topo). Hearing reports of good ice on the face in early March, Wallace was lured back for another try. The climb yielded four pitches, done in blocks. The final pitch offered a full 60m of airy climbing. Wallace described the climb as a classic with “incredible ambience.”
Mt Shuksan, Hanging Glacier, ski descent
On March 6, 2010, Forest McBrian, Aaron Mainer and I skied the Hanging Glacier on Mount Shuksan. Our ascent route was via the White Salmon Glacier to Hell’s Highway. We bootpacked up the summit pyramid in calm, sunny conditions and we skied from the summit. At the bottom of the pyramid, we turned east and traversed across the Price Glacier and easily reached the top of the Hanging Glacier. The snow was perfect, stable powder and made for very enjoyable skiing. At the terminus of the glacier, we exited far skier’s left down a weakness next to a large cliff. Skiing fall-line below the ice cliff would have been more aesthetic, but conditions did not allow for safe travel there. Back at the White Salmon Lodge, we heard rumors of a soloist who skied the Hanging Glacier in 2009. Details of this previous descent are sketchy at best, but it is probably fair to say that our descent was not a first.
(The opening photo on this page shows Mount Shuksan with the Hanging Glacier at center.)
Assassin Spire, First Ascent
On March 6, 2010, Tom Sjolseth and Daniel Jeffrey made the first ascent of “Assassin Spire” (IV, WI4+), an 8700-ft crag next to Lincoln Peak in the Black Buttes. The ascent was made almost entirely on snow and ice, avoiding the treacherous volcanic rock of the Buttes. This may be the first time in the Cascades that the first ascent of a peak was also the first winter ascent. See Sjolseth’s feature article about the climb in this issue.
Mount Maude, SW Couloir, Ski Descent
On March 20, 2010, Erik Svege and I met in Redmond at 2:30am departing for a winter attempt on Mount Maude. From the Lake Wenatchee area we snowmobiled toward Trinity, then turned right at around 19 miles and drove a couple more miles up to the Phelps Creek Trailhead. We left the sled around 6 a.m. and proceeded up the Phelps Creek drainage on skis. We started climbing just south of Leroy Creek, which we eventually joined in the basin below the west face of Mt Maude. The west face had better coverage than we had seen in any of our research, so we took note of a few entertaining descent routes from the summit.
From here we gained the saddle to the south and then turned east up a fin that eventually led to the south ridge of Maude. We booted the last 500 feet to the ridge, kicking through the crust to the sugary snow below, this was the crux of the climb. The summit was gained by straightforward skinning on firm snow up the south shoulder. On the summit the wind increased to a steady 40mph as high clouds grew more dense. We weighed our options with the north and west faces as possible objectives. Given the time and degrading weather, we made the call to take the more cautious option down the west face.
We skied the center of the upper face until it broke into NW and SW aspects. We opted to try something new by skiing to the SW, a line that starts as an open flank and eventually funnels into a dog-legging couloir with an entertaining double fall-line. The snow varied from wind hammered to sun crust to pockets of corn and the odd turn of recycled pow. At the exit of the couloir we cut across the large face to skirt the cliffs below.
The ski out was an entertaining romp through a candyland of corn pillows all the way down the Leroy Creek drainage. At Phelps Creek we pushed out on our skin track and were at the snowmobile by around 4:30.
Mount Hood, Black Spider, Fric-Amos, New Route
On March 20, 2010, Dustin Fric and Bill Amos climbed a waterfall line on the left side of Mount Hood’s “Black Spider.” The route followed the steep couloir above the prominent star-shaped snow bowl left of the Arachnophobia route. The party originally intended to climb the wall’s Center Drip, but decided to try the unclimbed route since it appeared to have fat ice.
Starting at 3:45 a.m., the party crossed the bergschrund and simul-climbed to the bottom of the couloir. Protection was poor and the couloir spat rocks, ice, and spindrift down on the climbers. Pitch two was the crux. After the third ice pitch the pair simul-climbed for several hundred feet to the summit ridge, encountering one more 15-ft step of 70-80 degree ice. With sun hitting the face, speed was essential. The party reported that an alternative finish is available at the final step, climbing up and left over vertical ice.
Dragontail Peak, Triple Couloirs, North Face Variant, Ski Descent
On March 21, 2010, John Plotz, Will Terrano and Dan Helmstadter skied a variation of the Triple Couloirs that avoided rappels between the first (“Hidden”) and second couloirs. Plotz and Terrano climbed the route with Kyle Flick, who was not planning to ski. After climbing the Hidden Couloir, the trio continued onto the North Face (the original Wickwire-Stanley route) then ascended the Gerber-Sink route, surmounting a short headwall to rejoin the Triple Couloirs above the junction of the second and third couloirs. They climbed the third couloir to the summit ridge.
While planning their descent, Plotz and Terrano encountered Dan Helmstadter, who had climbed up via Aasgard Pass and was planning to ski the Triple Couloirs, including the rappels. The three joined forces to descend the North Face variation, while Flick returned to Colchuck Lake on foot via Aasgard Pass.
After waiting a couple hours for other climbers to finish the route, the trio skied the third couloir on compact powder. They completed a 40-meter, skis-on rappel down the headwall and skied the wind-scoured North Face to the top of the Hidden Couloir. They found icy conditions in the Hidden Couloir and passed a section that narrowed down to a ski length before negotiating the entrance cliff to reach easier ground.
Mt Maude, North Face left, ski descent
On March 24, 2010 I skied a line on the north side of Mount Maude, which began in the “North Ice Couloir” (Beckey) and then gradually traversed to the North Face. I approached via Phelps Creek over the col between Seven Fingered Jack and Mount Maude. From the col I traversed towards the North Face of Mount Maude, losing a few hundred feet of elevation. I alternated bootpacking and skinning up the North Face, which was thigh deep powder and made for arduous travel. The summit ridge was protected by large cornices and in order to bypass them I had to tunnel my way up a 30 foot section of 50 degree rotten snow.
From the summit, I rappelled into the North Ice Couloir, which held stable, soft snow. I skied the couloir until it opened up and then traversed left towards the North Face. I think a fall line descent would be possible, but may require additional rappels. I think the slope angle might have reached 50 degrees at the top, but most of the descent was between 40 and 45 degrees.
Sherpa Peak, NE Face, Ski Descents
On March 27, 2010, Dan Helmstadter approached the Stuart Range from the Bridge Creek campground intending to ski whatever looked good in the area. In Mountaineer Creek, he headed toward the cirque below Sherpa and Argonaut Peaks. The north side of Sherpa caught his eye from a snack spot earlier, so he climbed and skied the NE Couloir from a point high on Sherpa’s SE Ridge. After skiing the couloir, he climbed to the top of the snow on the NE Face of Sherpa, which branches from the couloir to the looker’s right. The NE Face was steeper, with a few icy spots. The snow was somewhat wind-affected and slabby, but the slab was not propagating. After skiing the face he returned to Bridge Creek, completing a 20+ mile round-trip.
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