Monday, May 4, 2015

Just read: Mount Hood- South Side Route

Since climbing Mount Hood myself a few days ago (photos and stories from recent hikes/climbs are coming soon), I decided to finally review "Mount Hood- South Side Route" on my flight home from the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon.

Katya and I on the summit of Mount Hood a few days ago, squinting into the sun.

This book review will also be posted on my Goodreads page.

This first entry in the “Cascade Climbs” series was written by Paul Wellner, a Northwest local who has climbed Hood several times.  Wellner shares his mountaineering preferences and experience based on his previous climbs.

A good portion of this book is dedicated to basic preparedness for climbing, information which most climbers would either already know from experience or from books which serve this purpose.  For example, “Mountaineering:  Freedom of the Hills” is an excellent resource that I’m reading right now for general instruction on preparation and climbing techniques.

Wellner’s advice runs the gamut from the helpful (“pay attention to the debris on the slopes which indicate that you are in the fall line of Crater Rock”) to the occasionally comical (his list of essential climbing items includes a candle... perhaps so we can gear up for the night cap/Charles Dickens summit approach?).

As much as I appreciated the detail and effort put into the first volume of this “Cascade Climbs” series, there was one concern as I read this Kindle edition:  Based on some of Wellner’s wording, it’s unclear whether he has personally climbed anywhere other than the Old Chute route.  For example, he recommends the Old Chute route instead of the Pearly Gates seemingly based on a single third-party trail report.  He also determines that the Pearly Gates route “doesn’t get much use these days,” although many of my friends prefer that route (and my good friend Katya and I rather enjoyed climbing through the Pearly Gates a few days ago).  His descriptions of the Pearly Gates passage are accurate, however, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s speaking firsthand.  Either way, he has vastly more mountaineering experience than I.

Helmets off to Wellner for providing this brief resource for those unfamiliar with the terrain of Mount Hood’s south climbing routes.  I read it twice.  It’s opinionated, and not all climbers will agree with his opinions.  Such is the nature of any sport instructional book.

Most peculiar (though entertaining) were Wellner’s repeated recommendations to shell out the cash to rent a snow cat and ride to the top of the Palmer snowfield.  Apparently, skipping this part of the hike “can make the difference between a successful climb versus an attempt” and “adds a bit more to the experience” of climbing Hood for him, personally.  To each his own.

But what if there is a catastrophic dome-light failure inside the snow cat?  You’ll be glad you packed that candle.

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