Dima and I were able to stay the night at the Mazama Lodge and grab a few hours of sleep before waking up at 4 AM. The Mazamas had generously allowed us to stay even though they had rented the entire lodge for a glacier travel class. The only caveat was they would be up late partying. Good thing I brought a pair of earplugs!
There was plenty of traffic headed up the mountain prior to our departure. A crew of 13 had left very early in the morning (reportedly by snowcat as they claimed just over 3k of vertical for the ascent of Mt Hood). I understand not wanting to slog uphill on groomers at the resort, but isn’t that part of the adventure?
The climbing on the south side of Hood is pretty straightforward as you can see just about everything from the parking lot. There was a rather large bergschrund to cross on the Hogsback if going through the Pearly Gates but we opted for the Old Chute. The mountain was shedding some small ice chunks as we traversed from the Hogsback to the chute so we moved quickly through this short section.
The rime ice really is ice so crampon and tool placement was critical as I had my aluminum spikes with me. This was a short section as you rounded the corner into the shade of the small chutes.
By the time we summited around 10 AM, the crowds had vanished and we had the summit to ourselves. We were able to see our tracks from the previous day on Snowdome as well as evidence of a large avalanche/icefall on the Coe Glacier.
From the summit the short traverse to the ski-able chute was narrow and exposed on both sides so we down-climbed a few feet before reaching a spot wide enough to chop a ski platform. The rock hard rime ice and steepness of the slope made for a cautious transition from pointy implements to skis. We scratched our way down the firm canvas for a few hundred feet until we reached the sun-softened snow. A section of perfectly softened snow with nice pitch was followed by the long lower angled runout of the resort. Near the end of the descent, the snow stared to get a little heavy but being able to ski to the car was much more enjoyable than hiking out on a dry trail!