Mount Hood, OR

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We sneak in a great climb of Mt. Hood on a business trip

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After a busy day on the 19th, we feasted on Cathy's eggplant parmiagiane and hit the hay at about 8pm. Our trip began a short while later, getting up at 10pm and driving for 2 1/2 hours to Timberline Lodge. Once there, we finished dressing, signed in, fussed with equipment one last time, and headed out at 1:30am.

The wind was calm, and the temperature just below freezing. We decided to go without snowshoes, which was OK... but might have been more OK if we had taken them.

We plodded up to the top of the Palmer chair, arriving at about 4am. The weather was holding, and because the 1/2 moon had risen, we could sort of pick out the top of the mountain. From the top of the Palmer, the going got a little more difficult (exactly where are those snowshoes?). The sun had been out the day before, forming a weak crust- but stiff enough to hurt your shins as you pushed forward from a mid-calf posthole. Wherever possible, we sought out the footprints of others.

As we neared Crater Rock, we realized there were some clouds swirling around the summit. But still only light winds, and not much colder. Soon we were at the Hogsback, where we donned crampons, harnesses, and a rope. By now we were fully enveloped in the cloud. The wind had picked up, and the temperature dropped.

As we headed up the Hogsback, the wind picked up more and the fog grew denser. On the other hand, daylight was breaking. Still, it was easier to see with our headlamps on. There was a fairly well-developed pathway all the way from the Hogsback to the summit, but there were chunks of hard snow thickly dispersed, making footing a little tricky at times.

As we passed through the Pearly Gates, the wind was absolutely howling, flinging bits of snow here and there, UPHILL and into our faces. It was hard to hear, and exposed skin was painful. Even though we were shrinking from the storm, we both were amazed at the condition of the chute. You could stretch out your arms and touch both sides of the chute simultaneously.

Once out of the chute, the wind eased slightly. It wasn't long before we were standing on the summit- 6:15am. We decided the wind was still blowing too hard to stop; we'd freeze in minutes. So after a quick summit congratulations, we were on our way back down.

Now that there was more light, I started taking pictures. Here's Brian descending the chute of the Pearly Gates (aren't I nice? Hey Brian- now that you're in the line of fire, would you mind holding still for a minute?).

Brian descending the Pearly Gates

As we made our way down the Hogsback, the cloud would part every so often, offering a glimpse of the surrounding terrain. We lamented the idea that we might miss a beautiful summit view, when we had worked so hard for a summit sunrise. But we weren't going back up.

During the climb of the Hogsback, we hadn't seen any sign of the bergschrund. On the way back down, Brian found what he described as "a blue hole about as deep as your arm could reach, or at least that's as far down as I could see." He turned and did an end run. I turned, shortcut the detour, and missed it entirely.

Looking down the Hogsback
When we got down out of the maelstrom, it was actually quite nice again. So we took a picture to show Brian's whispy eyebrows. Light rime in the eyebrows

As we traversed below Crater Rock, we dropped below the clouds. We saw some folks heading up. And then we could see Timberline. That's the Steel Cliffs on the left.

Smiles in front of the Steel Cliffs
We lolly-gagged on the way down, even answering the phone when John's work called from Wisconsin. Brian stopped and talked to two guys heading up on skis. Then it was back to our long butt-glissade down the cat track. The snow had been too soft above the Palmer to glissade, so it was nice to finally get some free elevation. The summmit clouds from the Palmer snowfield

We arrived back at the parking lot at 9:15. For the very first time, we remembered to sign out at the climber's registry (we have now climbed Hood together 3 times.)

Then we had a cup of coffee, basking in the sun in just our t-shirts. Meanwhile, the mountain put on a show for us with the clouds swirling around the summit.

Well, we had got 'er done. Now, what are two guys to do with themselves at 10 in the morning? A little voice was whispering eggs and tabasco.... Breakfast at the Huckleberry!

The summit cloud cap
With full stomachs, we headed home. Driving down to Hood River, we stopped and took several more pictures of the lenticular that had formed over the summit. This shows the east and north sides of Hood, with Cooper Spur about in the middle. The east side of Hood showing the lenticular cloud

Early Saturday morning I caught the flight back home. It looked like another great day to be on the mountain.

And now for a weekend of homework and house chores.

Mount Hood from the plane on the flight home

Mr. Natural Home | 2006 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski