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Mt Hood Pearly Gates and Complete White River Ski Descent

With a wedding two weeks away and a honeymoon trip to the alps just over a month away, Taylor and I were quick to jump on a good-looking weekend forecast to escape to Mt Hood for some skiing, climbing, and skills practice.

It's good to be out in the mountains on a day like this.

It’s good to be out in the mountains on a day like this.

It’s hard to persuade me to go snow camping, as I am embarrassingly attached to sleeping within walls during the cold months, but since we’d recently scored some fun new gear, interest and excitement won out. A big impetus was the Black Diamond First Light tent that our family and friends gave us as a wedding gift; this single-wall bivy wonder-tent packs down to the size of a nalgene, which makes the pain of a heavy carry much nicer. We’d also acquired a Petzl Rad-Line static rope rescue kit to use as our glacier system in the alps, and we needed to practice our crevasse rescue tactics (more on this soon). Finally, after five and a half years of abuse, I finally sold my Dynafit TLT5P boots and joined the hordes wearing Scarpa F1s, and I was eager to give them a try.

We left the Timberline parking area after a casual start on Saturday morning and made a slow climb up to Illumination Saddle at 9200′ and set up camp. As we climbed we passed a huge group of skiers and snowshoers with the same destination and we worried that we were accidentally crashing a full-moon dance party at I-Rock. Luckily and adorably, it was a wedding party for a couple who were wed at the saddle with amazing shining sun and valley clouds that afternoon. We skied away from the saddle headed towards the summit crater as they started their ceremony. Read on →

Spring Is Here, So We Ski It

Figure 1: The illusion of winter.

Figure 1: The illusion of winter.

I’m now resigned to the fact that true winter may never actually arrive in the Pacific Northwest. Though global warming appears to have nothing to do with this unfortunate situation, it sure looks like the sunshine and warm temperatures are here to stay for months to come. It’s not what we had hoped or expected from this season, but frankly, there’s nothing to be done about it.

Fun is where you make it, right? Well, recently, fun has been at and above treeline on warm days. With the exception of one storm about a week ago that left ten inches of 20% density snow, it’s spring skiing out there. Though we tried our best to make it look like winter (figure 1), it’s now Spring.

Sure, as the temperatures warm up, that means more days on the mountain bike, and more miles on the trail running shoes, but I think that the devoted will agree with me that now begins the longest spring-skiing season of them all.

In celebration of the new spring weather, Peter Innes and I decided to pull out all the heavy metal things and go climbing on Mt Hood. Photos follow. We climbed via the Pearly Gates variation of the dog route, with a short but still engaging bulge of 80-degree ice guarding the summit. The ski down was stiff, but we found additional amusements climbing (us) and skiing (me) crater rock, and then by skiing out the White River Glacier from the top with feeling.

The "Hogsback" feature on Mt Hood, which leads to the "Pearly Gates".

The “Hogsback” feature on Mt Hood, which leads to the “Pearly Gates”.

Read on →