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Mount Hood, Leuthold Couloir Route

Here's the brief Trip Report from Kipp Bajaj and Doug Adair's climb of Mt. Hood's west side Leuthold Couloir on Saturday, 3/2. We started at Timberline at 3:00 am, made Illumination Saddle (~9500') by 5:30 !!! (certainly a personal record ascent time). Conditions on the approach were absolutely superb with a bright moon, light wind, and unlimited visibility (we could see the summit from Sandy). It was slightly below zero at 9500' with an increasing NE wind. We took a break, got prepped for the real climb (harness, rope, gear, helmets, hand warmers, etc.). We crossed the upper Reid Glacier and were on the lower slope approaching Leuthold by 6:45, in time for a stunning sunrise. Trading leads on the ascent, we found that the lower section of the route was in superb shape, as recently reported by climbers on Yokum Ridge (immediately to the north). Got to the Hourglass by 8:00, or so and proceeded to get bombarded by spindrift & ice chunks for the next two hours. The strong winds up high were knocking stuff off everywhere, all of it funneling into the climb route. Kipp and I each took several substantial hits in the knees, shoulders, thighs from ice chunks baseball size or larger. My ears rang several times from big helmet hits. Fortunately, neither of us got bloodied (unlike a team that came up after us), and we managed to keep going on the messy footing despite the onslought. Eventually we made it to the top of the couloir, exhausted but thankful that the ordeal was over. We estimated that the wind around 11,000' was approaching 50 mph, enough to knock you over (wind chill of -64). Amazingly, once we made the west end of the summit ridge, the wind died and we hit sunshine. Both of us virtually collapsed, totally bonked. We hung out on the summit for about 45 minutes then took our time going down, in part because we were drained and also because our knees were quite testy from the ice abuse. Got to the car at 3:00 pm for an even 12 hour climb. My nose got little sunburned from the descent, but that (and sore knees along with a few bruises) was the extent of the damage. Kipp and I agreed that, but for the wind (and the debris it spawned) this climb would have been an 11. Factoring in the ordeal aspects with the "thrill of victory" element, modified by the unexpected degree of difficulty, the final score was a solid 8. All in all, not a bad day on the mountain.


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