Mount Hood via Reid Glacier Headwall

May 20, 2017

The various headwalls on Mount Hood have been on the list for a while now. We’ve moved on  from the straightforward south side routes, to more moderate steep snow routes like Cooper Spur and Leuthold Couloir, to a steeper ice and snow line like the Devil’s Kitchen Headwall. Now, we decided to set our sights on the Reid Glacier Headwall. In fact, we opted to link the Reid and Sandy Headwalls in a back-to-back hit over the weekend because the weather was splitter and the stoke was high. We lugged the heavy, but roomy Taj Mahal Tent ( Mountain Hardwear Trango 2) up to Illumination Rock, dropping it off at the saddle early on Saturday morning, before beginning our traverse onto the Reid Glacier. With the heavy snowpack, the widening maw of crevasses to the point of impassibility is likely a ways off for the Reid. Although, with the increased weight and stress of our bountiful winter, bergschrunds typically open early and readily, with the Reid being no exception. Fortunately, we found it still quite passable in a number of locations, but two tools were helpful to maneuver across its narrowest point.


From the Illumination Rock Saddle, looking onto the Reid. 


We decided upon the climber’s leftmost starting option, entering the first chute then moving up and left, crossing the prominent snow spine. Out of the open couloirs and nearer to the bases of the rime towers and mudstone spires we found slightly more consolidated snow, and even a bit of ice. Not enough to ever take a worthwhile screw, but enough for us to smile after a few consecutively proper sticks. Entering the next chute, we generally trended left with barely a vestige of former accents, although with the unusually warm weather and accompanying melting, we weren’t too surprised.


Steep snow walking up to the first couloir.


Presumption had us bringing a few screws and two pickets; however, we only briefly utilized the pickets for a running belay near the top of the final couloir, traversing below a few rime mushrooms with absorbing exposure below. Upon reaching the northwest ridge, just uphill from the confluence of the Leuthold Couloir, psych briefly gave way to starvation, requiring a snack break primarily composed of Oreos and chocolately trail mix (we’re super healthy). Andy had forgotten to ingest the proper amount of altitude medications, so with the excellent excuse of rapidly warming temperatures, we descended the Old Chute directly from the summit ridge, eschewing the summit proper. Still counts right?!


See all those people and traffic jams? Yeah, us neither. 


We carefully picked our way down the Old Chute until the consequences of a botched turn diminished, and the management of small loose wet releases was less burdensome. The return trip to the I-Rock saddle was a nice departure from the customary descent. The remainder of the day was spent consuming calories, napping and watching others shred corn down the Zigzag Glacier. We’d have to save our valedictory ski down to parking lot beers for the next afternoon, after tackling headwall number two.


 A little snow, some rime towers and no crowds. 


We threw together a little video of our climb here:



Start: Timberline Lodge, 6,000'

End: Illumination Rock, 9,200'

Elevation Gain: 5,600'

Mileage: 6.7

Time: 8 hours


Equipment List

- 1.5 liters of water each

- Snacks/Lunch

- SUUNTO Watches (GPS)

- Sunglasses

- Headlamps

- 60m 8.5mm rope

- Harnesses & ATCs

- Crevasse rescue gear

- 2 pickets

- 4 ice screws 

- Skis, AT Boots, Poles

- Crampons and two tools


Andy's Strava:

Corie's Strava:



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