Climbing Mount Hood in Oregon

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This mountain has been calling my name this year. I planned a trip in May to Portland and had planned to climb it then, but the weather was poor and we ended up not going for it.

In June, I planned another trip, but ended up going to Arizona instead because there was a huge storm and about 2 feet of snow dumped on Hood the weekend of the planned trip.

Finally, in early July this year, my friend and I went up to Portland and committed to the climb.

I had been doing my research the few days prior to figure out the route we wanted to take. The first part looked pretty straight forward from the base of the volcano. Crater rock was very easy to identify. I could not see into the crater, but the “old chute” route was clear.

The Bergschrung crevasse was also visible from the base and it clearly blocked the “Pearly Gates” route that I had originally planned on. The snow was disappearing below the gates and it just did not look like an even slightly viable option.

We started out at about 5pm and hiked up along the Palmer lift from the Timberline Lodge. By the time we reached the top of the lift the sun was beginning to set, and the temperature was dropping pretty quickly.

I did not anticipate how cold the night would be, but with the wind it got pretty chilly. We set up our tent and tried to rest before the early morning departure to the summit.

Around 4am, I finally stopped snoozing my alarm and stuck my head outside the tent. It was not as cold as I expected, and the sky was a dark ash color. The sun was not up, but the sky was beginning to change as dawn quickly approached.

I looked up toward the silhouetted peak. I could make out a few flashes of headlamps on the old chute. People making their way to the summit ridge already. I looked down toward the ski resort and the parking lot. Faint flecks of light below as well.

I was suddenly filled with energy. I turned to my friend.

“Brent, it’s now or never!”

Brent was not to happy at this point of the climb and told me that he was so cold that if he left now it would surely be suicide.

1043993_10151585371812745_931170901_nI sat in the tent contemplating my options. I didn’t know what to do, but that burst of adrenaline in me still lingered, and I knew I had to just go for it.

I told Brent I had to give it a try and that I’d be back in a few hours. He agreed.

I pulled on my clothes, strapped my boots on, secured my crampons, and with ice axe in hand, I turned toward the flickering lights that now almost touched the summit ridge and began making my way up.

The snow was solid and easy to climb after the cold night. I trekked upward for about an hour, passing the crater rock and entering into the crater.

A few people were resting at the base of the hogs back and it was now light enough to see a few more people going up the old chute, and some coming down as well.

Steam billowed out of the grey and yellow soil in some places and sulfur filled the air.

I started up the hogs back and followed footprints off to the left. The crevasse above gaped so wide that there wasn’t much left of the hogs back to even climb.

Before I knew it I was heading up the old chute. It was not as steep as I expected, but one slip and I could end up with a broken leg lying among the steaming rocks below.

The higher up I got, the steeper it got. The last 50 feet I had to use my axe less like a walking stick and more like a climbing tool.

Carefully and efficiently I moved up the face as quickly and safely as I could. I got to the ridge and kind of expected a place to climb up onto and stand… There wasn’t. It was a sheer, 90 degree cliff right on the other side.

1044500_10151590203017745_2146980737_nI worked my way to the right and towards some rocks, finally reaching a place where I only had to use my feet to stay balanced. I walked along the narrow ridge until it flattened out into a rounded hill. I was at the top.

It was beautiful. You could see Jefferson, Rainier, Adams, and St Helens. The sky was clear and you could see for hundreds of miles.

After basking in the feeling you get from climbing a peak and enjoying the view, I began to head back down. I followed the same route and was soon stepping backwards down the steep face I came up.

Slowly but surely, I made my way down until I stood at the base of the hogs back. The most difficult and dangerous part was behind me.

Brent was standing at the hogs back debating whether to go to the top or not. After a while, he decided against it.

We both headed down and reached our camp in about 45 mins. We packed everything up and continued down the slope to the ski resort and onward to the car.

I really enjoyed Mount Hood! It was absolutely beautiful. Being able to summit was a complete privilege. It seemed that the more I read about it, the more summits on Mount Hood were just luck of the weather, so I felt very lucky to have such an awesome experience.

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