We climbed to the left of the climb parties closer to the West Crater Rim route. It was to the left of the cliffs in the picture below.
It was one of the tougher climbs that I have ever done as the the warm weather had melted a lot of snow making the walls quite steep. We had about 50 feet up and down of almost vertical climbing, digging our ice axes and crampons into the snow. For safety, the 10 of us had roped up and used pickets (a 2 foot metal post that is spiked into the snow. The rope is clipped into the picket) for protection.
Mt Hood is always tough for me since you climb it at night during the spring (The snow is too unstable during the day for climbing). My body won't accept any food other than simple sugars and chocolate since it's not used to eating at night and all blood flow is directed towards my limbs for full sympathetic nervous system reaction. After every Hood climb, I always vow that will be my last one. Many people ask why that is even a question but being on the mountain is a great feeling. There's nothing like the close view of the unique mountain geography, that first view from 10,000 feet when the sun comes up, and the chess game of thinking ahead and figuring out the right moves on your route. The feeling of getting to the summit is only rivaled by that feeling when you get back to camp and can take your boots off. Here's a summit view of Mt Jefferson and the Three Sisters in Central Oregon.
When I tell folks about Hood climbs, some immediately ask if I bring a Mountain Locater Unit (MLU). These are similar to devices that are used to track wolves. If someone knows to look for you, they can find your signal. During the December 2006 search for the 3 missing climbers, the idea of these got very popular and some began to consider MLU's as the epitome of safety. Climbers got very defensive about the public philosophy and we tended not to do a good job of expressing our opinions about these devices but I am going to try.
- Having an MLU does not mean that you will be safe. Checking the weather, having the right equipment, training, first aid training, and ability to get yourself off the mountain during an accident is what makes you safe. An MLU is kind of like closing the door after the horse has left the barn. I try to explain to people that I am better off taking climbing classes, studying routes, having necessary safety equipment, and being physically prepared but that doesn't seem to impress people as much as the idea that someone could find my exact location with a tracking device.
- An MLU only works if someone knows to look for you. It doesn't send a bat signal or automatically get picked up by a satellite. Someone has to know to activate the tracking devices. Just like all who waunder are not lost, all who have MLU's won't necessarily be found.
- Even if someone can pinpoint your location, that doesn't mean that they can reach you. If there is a blizzard or other nasty weather conditions, a rescue team won't be able to do anything.