West Crater Rim Route (WCR)
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|Type: ||Snow, Alpine, 5500 feet, Grade II|
|Season: ||When in condition - All year, some years|
|Submitted By: ||Ben Beckerich on Apr 20, 2012|
Will add some beta pics soon!
This route deviates from the Pearly Gates/Hogsback route below Crater Rock, rounding the inside rim of the western crater rim and side-hilling up into the Old Chute.
It's a good way to separate yourself from the cattle drive up the lower Coleman Glacier heading up the side side of the crater, and if you go all the way up to the rim above Castle Crags, you get to check out the west face. But it's otherwise just a (here comes the author's opinion) long, very boring, tiring slog with very little or no real climbing until you get to the last pitch of the Old Chute, which, and especially in mid-season, is frequently not much of an improvement.
It's also been the scene of many potentially devastating avalanches, including at least one that's killed people... so know your current snow stability condition, and try to get through the rim-traverse before the sun is up and cooking the field.
A classic Hood route, it does seem to be a fan favorite of south-side climbers.
The route begins somewhere below Crater Rock. Head around the west side of Crater Rock, rather than the east side (where everyone else is going), and begin a diagonal ascent of the crater rim, sort of side-hilling up toward the upper reaches. You should go ahead and continue all the way up to the short knife-edge that opens up between Castle Crags and the upper crater rim to take in the scenery of the west face and Portland in the distance.
Once you're up and rounding the inside of the rim, start paying attention to the chutes of snow in the back upper edge of the crater rim to the north- the chute closest to you is your chute, the Old Chute.
Once up under the Old Chute and approaching the ridge above you, start watching for indications of a cornice- rarely, the knife-edge can be heavily and dangerously corniced, and it would suck to have it break away with you on it, tumbling helpless down 1,000' to disappear into a Bergschrund above the Eliot Glacier.
Having gained the knife-edge, go east- the summit is now about 200m away and 10m above you, though you probably can't see it just yet. Traverse the knife edge to a highpoint before a depression.... the corniced mass in front of the sun is the summit, and geological high-point of the mountain. Go there, and you have won.
Depends on snow conditions. I've seen several people bite it on the lower sections and slide down 100-200'... but unless it's late in the season, you just slide until you stop in a natural depression, no worse for wear.