Mt. Hood, OR and Mt. Rainier, WA


After Hood, a climb later that week to the summit of Mount Rainier when we were still teenagers.

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Early in the week, Tom and I had our sights set on Mt. Hood in Oregon. We were about 18 or 19 at the time. At the time we were spending a lot of time rock climbing in the Sawtooths, but glaciers and crevasses were new to us.

Before we attempted the climb, we sought out advice and beta from Everett Darr. Darr owned the ski shop, restaurant and probably some other stuff at Government Camp. Both my father and mother had worked for him in the early 50s- that's where they met. Darr was an icon and a character. When I introduced myself, he exclaimed, "If you got your damn hair cut, you'd look just like your dad!" We explained that we weren't there for hygeine advice, so he went on to tell us, "If I was going up the mountain tomorrow, I'd just wear Hush Puppies." So much for the beta.

When we got to Timberline Lodge, the place was crawling with people. Being spoiled on the Sawtooths in the early 70s, which for us off-trail rock climbers seemed practically empty, we humped full packs to near the Hogsback to spend the night in solitude. If I recall correctly, it was August and the hogsback was dry so that is where we put the tent.

The next morning, we hiked over to the snow in the Old Chute to gain the summit ridge. Tom seems to remember belaying on the steep, hard snow. I don't recall. But I remember that we summitted with no one else in sight. Then, after returning to camp and packing up, we experienced a frightening bit of new climbing technique: people were belaying each other up a scree field. In terror, and carrying full packs downhill, we literally ran past these bizarre climbers.


At Rainier National Park, the rangers were skeptical. They could tell that we lacked experience in belaying on scree fields. They told stories about the fearful climb to Muir Camp at 10,000', where the air is thin. They warned that it took all a man could muster just to get there, let alone attain the summit. Basically, they didn't want to let a couple of scruffy-looking teenagers onto the mountain. They contineued on like this for some time, ending by tell us it was too late in the day; it takes people over eight hours to make Muir.

At Muir, we laughed about their lecture barely three hours later.

At Muir, we stayed in the climbing hut. While others were getting up at midnight for their climbs, we tried to sleep. There, the approximately 100 occupants started getting up around midnight. We hadn't gotten a lot of sleep, and we figured that by waiting until 7am, the rest of the horde would be well up the mountain and we could enjoy the route on our own, in the kind of solitude to which we were accustomed. Boy, were we wrong.

Once everyone left, we snoozed on. Finally the sun came up. Poking his head out the hut door to check the weather, Tom discovered the entire group was lined up across the first glacier. Furious, we slapped on our crampons and began running across the glacier to pass the throng. To get around everyone, we ran parallel the obvious trail beat into the snow, leaping crevasses. We were tying in on the run, so didn't really have a rope on until we were almost half-way across the first glacier. Those in plod-mode were angry about being passed, and yelled at us. Scrambling up the scree of Disappointment Cleaver (again, without belaying), we put the cacophony behind us.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful, except for one point: in our morning haste we had neglected to melt more water, so we both had solid dehydration headaches at altitude. But we had a wonderful climb. In a rare northwest weather occurrence, we were in the sun the whole way, without a cloud in the sky. Yes, the whole way.

Even with our late start, we summitted and were back at the car by about 4pm.

Mr. Natural Home | 1970s | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski