Mount Hood, OR


A winter climb of Mt. Hood in perfect conditions on Brian's birthday.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

It was Brian's 50th birthday, and what better way to celebrate than to climb Mt. Hood again?

(For those who don't know Brian, he's my buddy who does the Celebration of Life each year).

We had climbed it together last year, so we opted to follow a similar formula: leave his house a little after 10pm, drive to the mountain, and start climbing around 1:30am.

This year, it was Brian, Gugi, and I. On the way up to Timberline, all the trash on the road was pressed tightly against the snow-wall left by the plows. Uh oh, a little breezy. When we got out of the truck it was just below freezing (sort of warm for January?). We suited up and left the car (~6000') about 1:40 in a raging 25mph wind.

The first part of the climb is up the ski runs of the Palmer chairlift. All you can see is what's in the beam of your headlamp- and that's not much. With the wind blowing so much, we didn't really talk, just plodded along and tried not to get knocked over by the gusts. We hit the top of the Palmer chairlift (~8400') at about 3:45, put on our crampons, and proceeded on up.

I should point out that although I said "plodded," Gugi set a horrendous pace and us old guys did pass several parties. As an explanation, he said he had been doing a lot of ballroom dancing. (Maybe in a hyperbaric chamber?)

Darkness on Mt. Hood

The hogsback sits at about 10,600', and we got there at about 6:15. We puttered around for a bit, then started for the summit. We had read that the Pearly Gates had a 15' section of water ice, so decided to try the Old Chute route because we had opted to go light without harnesses or ropes.

Dark on the hogsback

The goal was to get to the summit before sunrise. This is the traverse of the crater rim. You'll notice two things- the sun is not yet up, and the rim is a little narrow on top.

I had done this traverse on another climb, but that time it was daylight, the snow was consolidated, and I had a rope on.

The traverse of the crater rim

But at about 7:20 we made our objective . Here Brian and Gugi pose on the summit, with Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters behind them.

Brain and Gugi with Mt. Jefferson in the backghround

We watched as the sun rose. This is another summit shot, this time facing more easterly. The fog extended about 30 miles to the east (at least that's what I saw when I flew in the day before) but to the west was mostly clear.

The summit of Mt. Hood

This shot is back along the crater rim. You can see our tracks in the snow, and also the shadow of the mountain.

We had had the summit to ourselves for about 20 minutes in dead-calm air. Looking down, we could see folks heading up in our path. Time to head down.

The shadow of Mt. Hood

We had kicked good steps in as we climbed, so it was simply a matter of reversing our ladder. That's Gugi right above me, and Brian above.

Further up are the first two climbers to pass in our tracks.

Starting down the old chute

The descent wasn't too bad, but one did not want to slip here.

Although that looks like a chunnel to the right, it was actually a narrow avalanche runnel. We liked the idea of getting down this before the sun got on it.

Steps on the descent

The view looking straight up may have made it look steeper than it really was. This shows the correct perspective.

Further down the descent
We had planned to stop and eat on the hogsback, but traffic was building and the sun had not yet arrived (it was about 22 degrees here). So down we went. The hogsback and some climbers

When we finally got into the sun, we stripped down and put it in cruise control.


Below Crater Rock

Then the wind came back up, pelting us with snow and ice crystals. Brian had made a sled out of a piece of tarp, but it didn't quite work. However, he did get a free dermabrasion.

The ski runs were empty on the way down- the chairs were turned off due to the wind. We got to the lodge at about 10:30, right on schedule. We had to enjoy our Black Butte Porter from the protection of the pickup cab- it was blowing too hard to lounge properly.

Still, not a bad 50th birthday!

PS- More pics will be added when I get a CD of Brian's shots.

PPS- That's number 6 for me Dad. I only need one more to match you!

Brian attempts to light the rocket sled

Mr. Natural Home | 2007 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski