Skiing The Newton Clark Headwall on Mount Hood In Oregon
Location: Newton Clark Headwall, Mount Hood, Mount Hood National Forest, Cascade Range, Oregon
Starting Point: Mount Hood Meadows Ski Area Main Parking Lot (5360′)
Distance: 8 miles
Time: 6.75 hours
Top Elevation: 10,865′
USGS Maps: Mount Hood South
After skiing the Worm Flows on Mount Saint Helens, our plan was to ski the Southwest Chutes on Mount Adams. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned. The FS roads to Mount Adams were still covered in snow, so we decided to head south and tick off the Newton Clark Headwall on Mount Hood in Oregon.
The Newton Clark Headwall was first skied by Sylvain Saudan on March 1, 1971. It has been named one of the 50 Classic Ski Descents In North America. Located on the East aspect of Mount Hood, Oregon’s highest point, the steep slopes of the Newton Clark Headwall loom over the Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort.
Chris Ebeling, Jeremy Wood, and I cruised south from Mount Saint Helens along OR 35. As we laid eyes on the Newton Clark, we knew we were in for a cool skiing adventure. It was late when we pulled in to the parking lot at Mount Hood Meadows. We got a good look at our route before the sunset. Parking overnight is allow in the main parking lot of Mount Hood Meadows, but we decided to camp in our trucks down at the Bennet Pass Sno Park where there was an outhouse and decent cell service.
We woke early in the morning (8 AM) and drove back up to the main lot of Mount Hood Meadows at 5360′. I packed my Mammut Trion Pro pack and slipped on my Dynafit TLT6 boots and started walking. It’s always a bit strange ski touring up a closed ski area. At least there was no downhill traffic to avoid. We quickly made our way to the top of the ski area at 7,300′ and started our true ascent.
We skinned as far as we could up the ridge line on the Wy’East face. Wy’East is the name used for Mount Hood by the Multnomah tribe. It’s a steep climb that required crampons and an axe. At the ridge we were greeted by wafts of sulfur and stunning views over the rime down toward the standard Mount Hood climbers route near the Hogsback above Timberline.
As we approached the Newton Clark Headwall, we peered down several different potential ski lines – all of them cliffed out. In fact it’s a bit confusing to actually find the correct line up there. Our plan was to summit Hood and then ski the route Sylvain Saudan had skied, but that route didn’t seem to go cleanly. It could have been climbed, but a clean ski from the summit didn’t seem to be possible. Maybe with a rope…
Instead we skied from 10,865′ (about 400′ short of the summit) at the bench above the Newton Clark Headwall. It was steep – pushing 50 degrees and a little bit puckering. The headwall was sustained for about 1500′ and then mellowed out into the crevasses of the Newton Clark Glacier. It’s a no fall zone.
The snow was both sun affected and punchy. We skied the line and then took a mellow traverse back to the ski area boundaries. After a little bit of hot pow on a blue run called Swirly Chunky, we were back at the parking lot. Today was a good day.
Our route to ski the Newton Clark Headwall took 6.75 hours, 8 miles, and 5715′. It’s an easy day trip that is relatively straightforward
See our route to ski the Newton Clark Headwall on Mount Hood:
See additional photos from skiing the Newton Clark Headwall on Mount Hood:
This trip report for skiing the Newton Clark Headwall is from April 26, 2016.