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  1. #1
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    TR: Mt. Hood - Coopers Spur 7.8.06. Nothin' like one last DP

    The funny thing is that I'm not really a morning person - I'm not. But I'm always up for a DP and especially so if there's a summit up for grabs as well. Screw that alpine start garbage...skiers don't alpine start. Skiers DP, period. And if you simply stay up all night and start hiking at 2am, it's still a DP. I think that run in with the "mountaineers" has me a bit revved up still....more on that later.

    Every summer I head to Oregon, back home. My parents and sisters still live there and my kids need to see the ocean each year and remember they have grandparents up there. It's also a chance for me to slip away for a day or two and play on my home mountain - Mount Hood.

    Two years ago it took me three trips to the hill to summit the thing (weather was brutal) but since I was solo on that last attempt I chose to leave the skis at the bergshrund on the South Side route and have regretted that since. Since the South Side is a "been there done that" I chose a more striking line this year - the Coopers Spur. Since I had the line picked out, I only needed someone amped enough about skiing in July who wouldn't flinch at the opportunity - Squirrel99 was my man. He would later admit that he thought we were going to be skiing some headwall and not a steep exposed "you fall and you WILL die" proud line. Ignorance is bliss.

    the "proud line"


    I met the rodent just shy of 11pm at the Circle K in Gresham and we were off to Cloud Cap via Hood River. Driving through the clear night I couldn't help but dose off a bit despite the last 13 miles of rough gravel road. We kept pushing back our start time saying, “Ok, a 3am start will be good” to which we’d then say, “well, how about we sleep for an hour and leave at 4am” and so it went.

    “Is this it?”

    “I don’t know,” I replied, "I think this is the start of the trail" to which Squirrel replied “Wait a second, I thought you knew how to get here!?”

    “It can’t be that hard – the mountain is up there” pointing at the silhouette in the sky. I think he was having his doubts about finding the line.

    1.5 hours of nap time and we were off at 5am – a bit later than we had planned. As we neared the timberline the sun painted the mountain.

    Follow my ski tips - they point to the line.


    Good morning from St. Helens, Rainier and Adams (L to Rt)


    We kept ascending over snowfields and scree trails to the "spur" stopping a bit before to stow some gear we knew we wouldn't need.

    As we got closer it struck me that the line was steeper than I had previously thought. I had never really been closer than the road from Govy to Hood River so viewing the line from a distance gives you no perspective as to how the last 3000' kicks straight up. I'll admit that I had some tentative thoughts about our chances. Fortunately I was out in front of Squirrel so I couldn't find a sounding board for my hesitation - I just had to ignore it and keep on going. The wind started to kick up and was quite chilly as I reached the start of the "climb" where I switched from trail runners to Scarpa Matrix. Found a couple of Wild Country stoppers sitting on a rock - booty gods were smiling on me.

    Getting Closer


    The Rodent himself

    Can you spot the Rodent?


    Yea, those are alpine boots. One determined Squirrel and one sweet line.


    Getting steeper - the view was hard on the eyes- Rainier and Adams (left to right)


    Just after I took this photo we observed a large dishwasher size rock and some of its smaller followers peal off from the lookers right. We watched them tumble down the spur and pitch off the cliff onto the Elliot Glacier below. We weren't in any danger from it but it got our attention.

    I passed Squirrel and led up into the rock chutes. As I entered the first slot a rock just bigger than a bowling ball pealed off just above me and to the side. It bounced past me and as I turned I saw it was headed on a collision course for Squirrel. I yelled "ROCK, ROCK!!!" and saw Squirrel stand up from a head down climbing position. He had what I would estimate to be 1.5-2 seconds to make his move. I could see him hesitate for a moment with the thought of "do I move right or left". I kept thinking "move, move!" and figured that I was about to see my buddy die by getting hit squarely by this rock. (Amazing what you can think about in 1-2 seconds) At the last possible moment he dove to the climbers right as the rock whizzed by in the exact location were he was standing - about chest high. "We've got to get up and down this thing pronto!" I yelled down.

    I only managed a couple more photos on the rest of the climb since I wanted to get out from under the rocks.

    Near the summit looking down - falling here est verboten!

    On the summit - looking down the route we'll ski. This rib is a "don't even think about falling" no fall zone as well -

    I walked over to the true summit and waited for Squirrel who I had heard earlier groaning or moaning. I thought he was singing along to his iPod. After he got on the summit he sat down and gritted his teeth and moaned about his feet. He was in some wicked pain.


    Obligatory Summit shot - looking south with Jefferson in the background.


    to be continued....
    Last edited by powstash; 07-12-2006 at 09:26 PM.
    "In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair." -Emerson

  2. #2
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    part II - the descent

    Just as we were getting ready to click in and head down a couple of guys from the Portland Mountain Rescue showed up from the Old Chute route and walked over to check out what we were up to. I could tell that they weren't confident about our choice in route to ski descend and after respectfully and kindly offering up a couple of other choices by way of suggestion they said they'd watch and to have a great run. They were cool guys (with skis on thier packs as well) and I was glad that they didn't give us neg vibes.

    I clicked in, offered up a little "guide my skis, keep me confident" prayer and off I went. The first turn is always a bit tentative especially when there is 3000' of nothing below you and a sliver of a path to a safe descent. I remember slipping out a bit farther to the skiers left than I inteded to and reminding myself that is was "Just another turn in a long season".




    The route down hugs the rocks and then slips skiers right down the first of two chutes.


    I stopped in the first "safe" spot and looked back up to see Squirrel starting off - and noticing that those turns looked and felt pretty good.

    This photo makes it look like a blue run. It was a bit steeper than a blue.



    Summit steeze - the summit is just behind Squirrel


    Squirrel skied down to me and past to the next pre-determined safe spot. We'd leap frog in this style the rest of the way down until we were on mellow slopes. We still had a couple of spots to get past until we felt like a fall wouldn't result in instant death. But the skiing was so engaging and 100% focus. I really enjoyed it.




    Squirrel did too.




    I only wished I had a better camera and the skillz of a Grizzle/midget/CS/
    mtbakerskier. Like for this photo:



    We finally got through the rock chutes and down far enough on the slope below to where it mellowed out to just under 40. A couple more photos and we cut loose for some long turns down towards the lower Reid Glacier.

    The Squirrel was hurting something fierce with the feet cramping issues but he skied like the MANG flashing one mid section of the descent like it was just another line at Alpental. After linking snow patches and milking it for every last inch of 4700 feet we were back to the car in just over 2 hours from the summit and on our way to some well deserved pizza in Hood River. As we drove down the conversation turned to how appreciative we both are to have experienced this day - particularly following my brain surgery in early Feb and the Squirrel's dance with the big C a few years ago. Nothing like extra innings to life making the sweet moments all the more sweet.

    I'm not sure if I'll pull out the sticks until the snow flies. Likely not. Thanks Squirrel for the best finishing day to a season that I've had since 2002. Funny thing is, the Rodent was my skiing companion that day as well. The stoke never dies for Squirrel, never.

    Parting Shot -


    edit - bakerboy/mtbakerskier mix up
    Last edited by powstash; 07-12-2006 at 01:52 AM.
    "In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair." -Emerson

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
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    Jackson, WY
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    Talking

    excellent write up! the past spring/summer touring just seems to keep getting better & better.
    What a way to finish off July!

    and a big Thenk Yeeewwwww! for the heads up on that rockfall. It started out on an angle towards me, then came in hot- I knew I had crampons on and a whippet at the ready- dove hard right and latched in the whippet while keeping my left arm free to deflect any strike from the boulder. Luckily, I made it just out of reach. Enough excitement to keep my knees/feet weary for the rest of the ascent. Two other footholds gave way further up the exposed climb- so I decided that no matter how much energy I had- it was imperative to take every step slow & with a fist/whippet punched in for grip on each step of the last 1,000 vert. We had to manuever over some wet rock & interesting snow surfaces. The climb definitely had my full attention! That definitely translated into my first four or five turns down being a bit on the shaky side. Once the first leap frog was done and snow conditions seemed agreeable- turns felt much better!

    Definitely a rewarding day. powstash- thanks again for leading the charge. hope you & the family had a good trip back utah. bring back some utards next time

    couple more pics:
    powstash on the lower glacier


    what a day!


    pics from the teaser thread here:

    Dropping into Hood's committing, er...wretched NE Face, with gnarly exposure just out of sight.
    This one really got the butterflys going!


    The camera flattens this one out but no joke- it was a sustained 45-50 for the first part through the crux, then mellowed out to perhaps upper 30s-40 for the rest
    (see Lani's link on the last page for his more accurate degree assesment)


    squirrel cozys up with Adams


    Powstash, one of the coolest, raddest dudes out there


    Thanks again for a memorable day, K!
    Last edited by Squirrel99; 03-04-2007 at 07:08 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    yeeaaaaah such a nice line. thanks for the nice mail to PMR as well! Looks like the Eliot is getting ready for some ice climbing too. well skied, well skied.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orange Julius
    yeeaaaaah such a nice line. thanks for the nice mail to PMR as well! Looks like the Eliot is getting ready for some ice climbing too. well skied, well skied.
    You must be a volunteer? Those guys were a class act. Small world eh?
    "In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair." -Emerson

  6. #6
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    Damn I'm bummed I bailed on you guys

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptavv
    Damn I'm bummed I bailed on you guys
    Me too. Get that knee better and we'll hit something else next year.
    "In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair." -Emerson

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by powstash
    Me too. Get that knee better and we'll hit something else next year.
    Yeah, looking at that line there's absolutely no way I could have summitted, much less ski descended.

    Plus the wind was really good for kiting on Friday afternoon, Saturday day. Really really good. Too good to not go skiing. Damn it, no it wasn't

    Thanks for the invite anyway

  9. #9
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    holy freaking goodness! that's super badass, the exposure make my balls shrink.


    and will someone get squirell some goddamn boots that don't hurt his feet.
    god created man. winchester and baseball bats made them equal - evel kenievel

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeedashbo
    holy freaking goodness! that's super badass, the exposure make my balls shrink.


    and will someone get squirell some goddamn boots that don't hurt his feet.
    Getting the Denali's worked on this month so they should be good to go for the next ascent (though on a committing descent like this I would much rather suffer the pain and be in alpines for overall 'performance' much less comfort). And the special foam custom order is already taken care of for next winter

    Wish you could have joined us for this round. I hear Holden (or Inter Glacier) calling the Juggernaut in a few weeks!
    Last edited by Squirrel99; 07-12-2006 at 09:29 AM.

  11. #11
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    Very nice Powstash, very nice indeed.

  12. #12
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    Classic ski mountaineering at it's best! Way to go!!!!
    Have fun or get hurt bad. "MFT" A.K.A. Dr. Doom

    There are but three true sports--bullfighting, mountain climbing, and motor-racing. The rest are merely games. "Ernest Hemingway"

  13. #13
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    Every year it seems you read about a death on the cooper spur route. Not that its the hardest route on Hood, but its the hardest that people do on a regular basis. I googled "hood cooper spur climbing accident" and am seeing allot of returns with word, "fatal."

    I think the hardest thing about skiing the tough lines on the Cascade volcanoes is balancing the fine line between having firm, rocks still frozen in place, snow for the climb up, and then having the softer, you have a chance to stop if you fall, snow on the way down. Looks like you guys managed this as good as anyone could.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by powstash
    I'm always up for a DP
    #1 in an ongoing series of phrases not to be used openly in the San Fernando valley.

    Great TR. The camera wasn't flattening out that lookdown shot for me.

  15. #15
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    Jan 2006
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    Great shots and a burly line, I'm a bit jealous.

    Powtash, listen to SQ99 and get up here in the winter too.
    Move upside and let the man go through...

  16. #16
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    Nice TR. Shit, the pucker factor just reading the report is off the scale for me. That's a burly looking line, one that I won't be doing anytime soon. It's good that Squirrel didn't get ramrodded with that rock. Holy Shit!

  17. #17
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    Awesome work guys and cool TR powstash!!!

    Your commentary was $$$.

    That is a proud line and you guys slayed it. Way to look for something new too.

    Scary story about the rockfall, glad it turned out ok.

    Gotta give you props on the double whippets too…bad-mutha-fucker you is.

    so many mountains...so little time

    www.splitboard.com

  18. #18
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    Incredible TR! Fine pics too! BTW, that is the Elliot Glacier not the Reid. The Reid is on the NW side, under the West side of Yokum ridge and the Leuthold Couloir. Cooper spur is one committing route. The upper section through the rocks is an easy 50+ degrees. Way to go!
    The snow doesn't give a soft white damn whom it touches.
    ~ e.e. cummings

  19. #19
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    Holy shit--fuck yeh!

    Niiiiice score...b-e-a-utiful July line...got a huge boner right now after looking at all those plush shots...

    <deep green jealousy>

    peace,
    D.
    "There's a truth that sanity denies...." --Sprung Monkey

  20. #20
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    Sep 2003
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    That was really cool.

    Sq, have feet cramps been a consistent issue for you? I've been amazed you've been able to do all this bushwhacking in alpine boots, I just wracked it up to good boots or broken-in feet.

  21. #21
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    Oct 2003
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    Fine work fellas, and great TR as always! Stoked the weather held out for ya!

  22. #22
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  23. #23
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    Sweet TR!

    Glad to see I'm not the only poor soul clunking around the b.c. in alpine boots.


  24. #24
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    Jeeeeeeebus.

    Noice!

  25. #25
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    Well-to-git-'er-done.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

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