SUMMIT DAY NARRATIVE FROM OUR LEADER STEVE DOUGHTERY: "We were up and moving out of camp promptly at 2 a.m. It was a dark moonless night with a sky full of stars. The temperature was mild and the wind was calm. We crested the lateral moraine of the Blue Glacier at 3 a.m. The fact that our headlamp beams could not pierce the dark abyss meant that the Blue Glacier was far below.
We followed the remnants of a boot track on the very low angle eastern margin of the glacier, which led us through unbroken ice. The sky began to lighten as we neared the base of the Snow Dome. At a level bench at 6400 feet we watched the sun peak over the eastern horizon. Our next break was taken on some rocks atop the Snow Dome with the summit pinnacle in view.
Just after leaving our resting spot we observed a building purported to have some scientific purpose to the right of us. It was not a stone hut, as one might assume, but rather looked more like a manufactured home that had been placed there by some high lift helicopter.
The slope is quite flat once on the Snow Dome. The route follows the contour of the slope to a notch in the ridge at 7200 feet known as Crystal Pass. A short but very steep twenty foot snow slope just on the other side of Crystal Pass was easily negotiated by kicking steps and using a low dagger hand position on the ice ax.
The climb angle remained modest and required little effort. Near the top of the Blue Glacier, one must cross back over the ridge and move down a steep loose rock trail to get to the summit base. Here we unroped. I tailed our climbing rope up the steep 60 degree 100 foot snow slope placing two pickets at the top to give some protection from a slide into the rock and moat of the summit block.
Climb team members used their long prussic to ascend the steep snow slope to the summit block where they rested at the start of the ledge system. Jess Palacios and I set out on the ledge system to locate the east side rock route. The routes location was not obvious to me. The first possible route looked like it had an obstruction blocking the route.
Over half way up the route I used a large two-foot rock as a handhold. This rock came loose with no warning and fell past me and bounced and shattered as it fell past Jess. I had placed a tricam in the crack behind that rock and this piece of protection had now fallen down the rope ten feet, to my first piece of protection. I could also see that the rock had cut through the sheath of the climbing rope. I built an anchor in the rock, which I now considered suspect, and drew the rope up and tied it to the anchor, eliminating the cut from the system.
It was decided that due to the potential for rock fall on the route that Jess and I had just ascended, that our team should utilize the south route. The Mazamas were now on the ledge system and coordinating with us. They extended our fixed line and would eventually push a fixed line across the entire ledge system, up the short pitch and along the summit ridgeline to the summit.
Our climb team assembled on the summit, took some quick photos about noon and returned to the Eagles Nest just above the 15 foot step, to allow the Mazama climbers to pass. From here we did a short rappel to the ledge system and retraced the fixed line back to the start. The snow was softening and our climbers glissaded (mostly under control) the very steep snow slope to the safe run out below. We were all off the summit block by 1:30 p.m.
We descended without crampons in excellent weather and visibility and arrived back at Glacier Meadows Camp at 5:45 p.m., nearly 16 hours after departing.