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Yocum Ridge

AI3 Steep Snow R, Ice, Snow, Alpine, 3000 ft (909 m), Grade IV,  Avg: 4 from 6 votes
FA: Beckey/Scheiblehner, 1959. Young/Hiatt, via First Gendarme, 1972.
Oregon > Oregon Volcanoes > (A) Mt Hood > W Side

Description

Considered by many to be the premier route on Mt. Hood, Yocum Ridge combines moderately technical climbing, an aesthetic line, difficult conditions, and sparse protection for an overall package that is memorable and engaging.  The grade of the climbing doesn't fully capture the difficulty of this route, due to complex terrain, exposed knife-edge ridges, limited protection, and the challenges of rime ice.

From the Reid Glacier, gain the lower ridge on either side of the cliff bands at around 8800 ft.  Climb moderate snow and easy ice to the broad crest of the ridge, which becomes narrower and steeper as you approach the base of the first gendarme.  Climb the first gendarme via 1-2 pitches of steep rime, potentially the steepest ice climbing on the route (note, the '59 first ascent bypassed this feature and the knife-edge ridge by taking steep snow and gullies to the south).  From the top of the gendarme, either downclimb along the ridge, or rappel, to the beginning of a long section of exposed narrow ridge.  A 60m lead will get you through all the difficult ridge climbing here, leading to a long section of much broader and easier ice and snow, passing the second gendarme on your left, to the summit of the third gendarme.  From the third gendarme, either make a short rappel directly to the ridge crest, or a long (60m) rappel to the north to snow fields below the ridge.  Negotiate your chosen route to the point where the ridge tapers off below the large upper buttress.  At the buttress, there are multiple options; the Wickwire variation goes directly up a slot where the ridge intersects the buttress, while the Beckey Route makes a descending traverse to the right (south) towards Leuthold Couloir, and then ascends a large gully up and to the right, and then up and left, to the top of the route.  Beware overhead hazard in this section, as it is often climbed in the afternoon after a long day, and may be in the sun.  From the top, either descend Leuthold Couloir, or slog up and over to the summit and descend via one of the standard south side routes.

Due to the complex nature of the terrain, bailing would be difficult between the first gendarme and the base of the upper buttress.  From the base of the upper buttress, it is possible to downclimb easy snow slopes back to the Reid near the base of Leuthold Couloir.  If attempting this route, it is likely best to make sure conditions are good before climbing the steep terrain on the first gendarme, and either bail at that point or commit to completing the route.

Due to the nature of climbing on rime ice, protection on this route may be finicky and limited.  Bring an array of protection options and experience using them, and be prepared for run out climbing and creative belay anchors.

Location

Approach from Timberline on the south side, to Illumination Saddle.  Once at the saddle, descend to the Reid Glacier and make a gently descending traverse across the glacier to the chosen entrance point around 8400-8800 ft.

Protection

Ice screws (4-6X), Pickets (2-4X), and a small assortment of nuts, pitons, and cams.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Yokum Ridge route topo, taken from Illumination Saddle
[Hide Photo] Yokum Ridge route topo, taken from Illumination Saddle
Looking back at the first gendarme on Yocum Ridge, March 2020.
[Hide Photo] Looking back at the first gendarme on Yocum Ridge, March 2020.
Ridge traverse between 1st and 2nd gendarmes
[Hide Photo] Ridge traverse between 1st and 2nd gendarmes
Knife-edge ridge after the 3rd gendarme
[Hide Photo] Knife-edge ridge after the 3rd gendarme
Just past one of the Gendarme's
[Hide Photo] Just past one of the Gendarme's
Another group climbing the 1st gendarme
[Hide Photo] Another group climbing the 1st gendarme
Yocum Rige behind Illumination Rock
[Hide Photo] Yocum Rige behind Illumination Rock

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Noah Kimmes
Anchorage, AK
  AI3 Steep Snow X
[Hide Comment] Thanks for adding this, Kyle. I'll add a few more photos from our trip up the route soon. Mar 17, 2020
Dylan Colon
Eugene, OR
[Hide Comment] Does anyone know if the Wickwire variation has ever been repeated? It's the cooler looking line in photos, but obviously it is nearly never in climbable shape. May 11, 2020
Kyle Tarry
Portland, OR
  AI3 Steep Snow R
[Hide Comment] Good question Dylan! When we climbed it (March 2020), it was probably in climbable condition, but due to sun, temperatures, and wind there is a continuous stream of debris coming out of the entrance so we opted to skip it. I think that part of the challenge is that it's usually mid-day or afternoon by the time you get there, and in full sun. May 11, 2020