- Written by John Loseth
- Category: Backcountry
- Published: March 26, 2014
March 22-23, 2014 turned out to be one of these weekends we don't get too often on Mount Hood: Two days with perfect weather for climbing and skiing.
Saturday's mission was to climb and ski Leuthold Couloir. I skinned up to Illumination Saddle from Timberline to meet up with a motley crew of friends. The motley crew decided to climb the south side’s traditional climbing route, while a friend and myself dropped over the Illumination Saddle onto Reid Glacier to climb Leuthold.
We had perfect climbing conditions all the way to the summit. After topping out on Yocum Ridge, we strolled over to the last pitch of Cathedral Ridge.
From there, it's a short climb to the summit ridge and over to the true summit. With no wind and sunshine from a clear blue sky, we stayed on the summit for an hour. While there, we had a chance to see something I've never seen done off the summit. Zach Carbo brought his paraglider with him to the summit and took the fast track down, taking off above the Pearly Gates to fly down to Illumination Saddle. Such a treat to see him take off and have a new experience after what I think is close to 100 summits for Zach by now.
The ski down Leuthold itself was a mixed bag of conditions, but we got rewarded with Reid Headwall being smooth as a living room floor and decent softness to the surface. So much fun to ski. When down, we decided to ski the back side of Illumination Rock. I popped out below Illumination and was greeted by an untouched bowl of creamy corn snow above Mississippi Head.
From there, it was a cruiser run all the way down to Government Camp and a cold beer.
I woke up Sunday morning to a repeat of Saturday weather for a solo climb of the south side and a ski of Cooper Spur. With legs a little fried from the day before, the pace was a bit slower. But after just shy of 5 hours, I was on the summit again to ski Cooper Spur on the north side. Here's what the Old Chute looked like on the way up:
This time, the summit was almost empty with only one other person to share it with. After he left to ski Newton Headwall, I had the summit to myself. After waiting it out a little, I dropped into Cooper Spur on firm but good edge grip snow.
Here is the view from Cooper Spur down to Eliot Glacier:
Cooper Spur is a rush to ski, but you need to be confident not to fall. A fall may very well be the last fall you take. At least from the summit and down to the ridge over to the big face below. Once you've made it down there, you are home free so to speak.
After skiing down Cooper Spur, I traversed over to the bowl and basin to the right of Superbowl looking up. The bowl was in awesome condition and after that, I traversed over to the Banana Chute leading into Clark Canyon. The chute was as good as it gets. Creamy corn snow all the way down. From there it was easy skiing out Heather Canyon.
Weekends like this are few and far in-between for a weekend warrior and should not be missed.