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Sandy Glacier Headwall 


Type:  Trad, Alpine, 5300', Grade IV
Original: Mod. Snow PG13 [details]
FA: Fred Ayers, Keith Petrie, Dave Hitchcock, Don McKay - May 19, 1956
Season: Spring, Winter, Fall
Page Views: 4,742
Submitted By: Karsten Duncan on Feb 6, 2006

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Sandy Glacier Headwall is beautiful side of the mountain that few see up close. Due to inaccessability, it is the most remote of the "trade routes" on Hood. Seldom will you find company on this route, even in perfect conditions. Conditions can dramatically change the risk and feel to this route too.

The route has a great deal of traversing and glacier travel. Because of this many make it a two day endeaver. A common approach is to camp at Illumination Saddle one day, then on the second day traverse around, climb the headwall, and then retrieve their packs at the saddle on the way down.

While there is not any real technical terrain like vertical ice one should be competent on glaciers and be ready for a long climb with some routefinding challenges.

Most people begin at timberline lodge. Climb up as if heading up Leuthold Couloir past the lifts over Illumination Saddle and toward Yokum Ridge. Once you reach Yokum ridge instead of heading up Leuthold couloir head down staying close to Yokum to avoid crevasses on the Reid glacier.

At about 8600ft or slightly lower there will be an easy access to climb up and over Yokum Ridge revealing the Sandy glacier. (If its hard you probably need to descend further) Once over the ridge traverse the upper part of the Sandy glacier for a good ways. At the far north side of the glacier is the headwall.

While the headwall seldom gets more steep than 50 degrees it remains steep for most of its length. At times it can have waist deep snow and other times can have bullet ice requiring front pointing.

Near the summit ridge trending leftward can lead to easier terrain.

Descend Southside route.


Pickets, Glacier travel gear (rope, harness, ascenders/prussiks, etc), ice axe, optional ice tool

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By ChadA
Jun 19, 2009

Just a note- the 8600ft traverse over Yocum does not always go. In lower snow years there may be moats or cliff-outs that make it difficult to traverse off of Yocum onto the Sandy Glacier. Once, there was enough snow for it to be doable, but on subsequent tries this has not been the case.

If in doubt, it's a much more sure thing to traverse low underneath Yocum, and it eats up about an extra hour or so.

Good route, worth doing.

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