Mt. Hood Old Chute

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I took Ingrid up the south side of Mt. Hood on Sunday morning via the Old Chute route. I had ambitions of taking us up West Crater Rim, but my paranoia and lazyness took us to the right to the Hogsback. We made good time all the way to the Hogsback, though it's disheartening to see the Cat ferry people up the ski slopes in 15 minutes what took us 2 hours. The weather was nice, clear and chilly with not too much wind. We could see tons of stars and even a shooting star halfway up. I made a wish but no hot tub and pizza appeared in front of us.

After forcing food down at the Hogsback, we scuttled up the Old Chute. Ingrid was nice enough to humour me by dealing with running belays and rope tangles all in the name of practice. I got in two deadman pickets and they seemed pretty bomber, though I wouldn't want to fall on them anyway. The snow turned to crap after starting up the slope: some sections had 2 inch crust over soft snow, others were junky snow with bits of ice in them. We got surrounded by a bunch of people in the chute, which was the opposite of what we wanted, but I wasn't moving fast to do anything other than drip snot out my nose (turned out our packs way too heavy.)

All issues of snow and such were gone once we topped out into the sun on the summit ridge. It was a short walk over to the proper summit where we untangled the rope, drank some hot cocoa and dropped M&Ms into the snow. We were alone for about 10 minutes and it was pretty cool to be the highest people in all of Oregon. Ingrid had to pee and I would guess she had the highest bathroom of anyone that week.

I had the big idea of going down the Pearly Gates by rapelling, which would shorten our way down and get us away from the crowds. We downclimbed to just above the gates and I made a snow bollard to do the rapell. Unfortunately I totally monkey f***ed the rope up and also couldn't see if the rope made it through the ice section. I didn't want to end up being one of 'those people', so I belayed Ingrid back up a ways, tore down my anchor and followed her back up to the summit ridge. So that took about an hour or so of our time.

The downclimb through the chute was a little funky as the snow was highly variable, ranging from crappy snow with spindrift on top, to icy chunks held together with light snow. We took our sweet ass time making back to Hogsback where we downed a liter of water and found out my sandwiches don't taste or look good above sea level. From there we hoofed it down to Timberline being passed by damn skiers.


We tried out wearing softshells instead of gore-tex, and it worked out great. We both got new Schoeller pants from First Ascent (Eddie Bauer), and couldn't be happier, we didn't sweat in them, they stayed dry and breathed very well. Our new packs were awesome too, Ingrid got a new Mountain Hardware and I had a new Cilo Gear. Which was good, as when we got home I weighed our packs and they were waaay over the desired weight of -10 pounds (35 and 55 pounds.) Next time we will ditch some gear, including the shovels, screws, screamers, draws and half rope. I think we'll go with a 6mm cord instead of rope, and just use it for rappels and belaying the follower whenever necessary.

Ingrid had a good time, in spite of me putting dead weight in her pack and taking detours for the descent. On the way down I explained to Ingrid the theory of "Fun Types". You have adventures that are enjoyable at the time (Type I), some that are only fun in retrospect (Type II), and fun that isn't really fun, even later (Type III). Kelly Cordes has a good post about the fun scale, putting into words what I'd noticed a while ago - that making it through scary shit can be really cool once you're safe and thinking back. This climb was a mainly Type II, sprinkled with a few Type I moments.