A Marathon Day on Mt. Hood

by Angela Helmrich

The day started in Corvallis at 3:00 a.m. We left town at 4:00 in order to be first on the Palmer lift. It rained in Portland and all the way to Government Camp. But it was a gorgeous day above. The mountain looked beautiful with its snowline still far below Timberline.
And then we skied... and we skied. We skied under the sun and above all the clouds. We skied an awesome 23,000 vertical feet before 1:00 p.m. And this is what we must have looked like: Elegant Bob effortlessly flying and gliding down the mountain with the rest of us hurrying after him desperately cramped onto the hill with tears and fears in our eyes. What a rush it was! And what fun we had!
At 1:30 p.m., we met at the cars with rubbery knees (except for Bob's) in order to regroup for the planned glacier travel training. The plan was to catch the last lift and then head over to White River Glacier for the rest of the day and then ski down with the sunset. BUT... the snow conditions and the weather were far too good for just training, and so it happened that we spontaneously decided to go for the summit!
We did catch the last lift up at 2:30 p.m., enjoyed a very nice lunch on top of Palmer and watched the ski patrol and a few PMR members wrapping up their day on the mountain. And by about 3:30 p.m. we were all alone. Then we started to EARN our TURNS. We were treated with a very special sunset climb. By 7:30 p.m. we had reached the Hogsback like elves. The ice covered rocks of the Pearly Gates reflected the soft light of the setting sun and the bergschrund below swallowed the rest of the evening light. The mountain was so still. It was a very surrealistic atmosphere.
Since it was getting late we decided to enjoy the view for a while longer and ten headed down rather than up for the summit. Once we had reached our skis, which we had left at Crater Rock, we had the best ski descent of our lives! The sun's rays were coming across Illumination saddle horizontally casting a shadow of the summit onto the clouds to the east. The snow was smooth and had set-up to perfection! We skied with the angels! By the time we reached Palmer, the mountain had turned into a sheet of ice - bumpy ice at that. It seemed as if Hell had frozen over and... we skied it! Or should I say: Bob skied it, the rest of us scraped it! By now the mountain was glowing and so were we! What a day! We reached the cars at about 10:00 p.m., had a late dinner in Zigzag and then drove home. We rolled into Corvallis at 3:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. I'd call this a well-rounded day! Sunday was a motionless day.

Participants: Bob Freund, Rod Harney, Angela Helmrich, Don Lacer, and Jon Sears

Angela on Crater Rock

Photos by Angela Helmrich and Jon Sears