Mount Hood - 11249
|Additional Members:||moon stalker|
Mount Hood - 11249
|Additional Members:||moon stalker|
|Mount Hood-My First Volcano|
Climbing Mt Hood in Oregon didn't initially come to me as a focused goal. It came into my sights as I pursued a bigger goal....climbing Mount Rainier in Washington.
A bit of back story...
After finishing the Colorado ranked 14ers, the unranked 14ers, and then the Centennials (Colorado's highest 100 ranked summits) I slowly drifted towards another thought....climbing the state highpoints of the US.
I took a road trip in April 2013 through Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas where I picked up five new state highpoints. (You can find trip reports of those online here at 14ers.com) Then I took separate trips to California, Arizona and New Mexico where my list grew to thirteen state highpoints. I knew that I would eventually need to focus on Mount Rainier in Washington, which would be more than just a trail to walk up.
Rainier is a glaciated peak. I knew I didn't have the roped travel experience, or the crevasse rescue experience, to confidently go climb a peak of this caliber. So, I applied to the CMC (Colorado Mountain Club) to be accepted into their HAMS (High Altitude Mountaineering School). I was very excited to learn that I was accepted and so from January through May of 2015 I took their HAMS classes/outdoor trainings to become somewhat educated in high altitude mountaineering over crevasse laden glaciers.
Note: to climb Rainier, you must apply for and receive a permit from the Mount Rainier National Park Service. I tell you, this lottery system is no easy task to submit for and to receive, the allusive yet needed permit. However, we submitted and miraculously received (with much pursuit and follow up) the required needed permit, which is a whole another story in and of itself.
Once we had permit in hand, I decided to do some planning and decided to add on Mt Hood prior to Rainier. Since it would involve purchasing an airline ticket to Seattle, I would prefer to get 2 peaks for 1 airfare while doing this sort of trip to the Pacific Northwest.
One of my HAMS instructors, Kelly Greaser (Moonstalker on 14ers.com) heard of my plans and asked if she could join me. I was thrilled since I (and especially my wife) prefer not to climb solo. Additionally, after asking to join me on Mt. Hood, she then asked me to accompany her on Mount Saint Helens. Normally, I wouldn't have had any interest in this peak, but since she is a Geologist, and had a big desire to climb this blown out volcano, I agreed. It seemed like a fair enough trade off. (Wow! This Mt Saint Helens climb is a whole other story! I am so glad I joined her on that one!)
Anyway, back to Mt Hood. This peak is also a glaciated volcano and is an amazing peak to climb. It's summit sits at 11,249 feet. For climbers in Colorado that doesn't sound like much however, this peak is one of the loftiest mountains in the nation based on its prominence. We decided on the standard south face/Hogsback route. The trailhead is at the Timberline Lodge/Ski area at 5,900 feet. Therefore, the vertical gain ends up being about 5,350 feet. That's typically more than many of the Colorado 14ers.
Mt Hood also requires a permit if you are hiking/climbing above the ski area. However, there is no lottery system here and it's free. Another climbing friend had just climbed this peak two weeks prior and had instructed me to go to this climbers hut just off of the left/west side of the upper parking lot. It use to be the door was left open and the permits where inside.
Well, things evidently have changed. You now need to come into this building near the main parking lot. (Sorry, my camera didn't focus. But you can see enough from this image of what to look for.)
Inside, you turn right around the corner and come into the "Wilderness and Climbers Registration."
There are forms at that table. Once done, just place the yellow copy in the green box on the wall and attach the white copy to your pack and you are good to go. (Be sure to read the Warning on the wall about not following the fall line on your descent, and inadvertently heading down the Zigzag Glacier where you would cliff out at the Mississippi Head!)
We came up the mountain the day before to scout things out. We figured out where to park, found the newly relocated permit/registration room and got our permit taken care of, then scouted out the trailhead. This way we didn't have to search for all of this in the dark since we planned for an alpine start at Oh-dark-thirty. There is a green gate where my Colorado climbing friend pointed us too. It's just to the left of the old climbers registration building in the upper parking lot.
On of my fellow HAMS student-partner, Roger Leikas, had suggested that we stay the night at the Mazamas Lodge prior to our climb. Roger use to live in Oregon and was a Mazamas member. Mazamas is a sister organization like our Colorado Mountain Club. So, if you are a CMC member, or a member of another affiliate organization, you will be allowed to stay there. The price is reasonable and you can even purchase meals when they are cooking. This made for a perfect base camp that was only six miles down the road from our trailhead. (They even allowed us to return after our climb to shower and take a nap before heading out to climb Mount Saint Helens. Saaaweet!)
With the warm temperatures the Pacific Northwest was having, we decided on an alpine start around 2:30am. We hiked up the road that started at the green gate, and eventually ended up right in the middle of the ski area. Technically, you are suppose to stay to the right/east of the ski area. But in the moonless night, it turned out that we ended up parallel, and right next to the ski lifts. There were a couple of snowcats grooming the runs in the middle of the night, but they didn't come anywhere close to us so all was good. We didn't get busted for being on the ski run.
At the top of the Palmer Lift at 8,500 feet, we came upon the unloading building which actually unloads the skiers indoors. There was no door across where the skiers ski out and so we walked in to take a break. This turned out to be a great place to stop as we were completely out of the wind. Keep that in mind if you are encountering winds on your climb and are looking for a nice wind break.
Being so far north, the skylight started showing up around 4:15am. Once you get to the top of the Palmer Ski Lift. You aim straight for Crater Rock.
I found this image online that proved to be really helpful for orientation.
Before long, the orange hues of sunrise started competing with the orange hues in my vest. Behind me is Illumination Rock.
After sunrise, we saw a really nice pyramid shadow down below us as Kelly makes her way up the snowfield.
Once we made it up beside Crater Rock, we entered the area known as Devils Kitchen. This is an area that let's you know this you are climbing on a volcano. I am climbing underneath Crater Rock and parallel to it, where below me is a place where the the snow is melted out due to volcanic heat!
Kelly took this picture of whatever is cooking in the kitchen. Phew! It stinks in here of sulfur. Smells like rotten eggs!
And you can see the hot steam and gases coming out from the fumeroles.
Once around Crater Rock we climbed up to the ridge known as Hogsback. This runs from the top of Crater Rock north to the cliffs below Mount Hood.
After hiking the spine of the Hogsback, you run into the Bergschrund. We don't see anything like these in our backyard here in Colorado, so this was pretty incredible. It was much bigger than I expected!
The good thing is that it's not really a problem. We just circumvented around it to the right as we were heading up the Pearly Gates route.
Kelly takes a moment to peer into this gaping hole.
Around the bergschrund, the slope turns up the steepness. It looks like the route goes to the left above me. But that appeared to pretty much cliff out. So we went up to the right of that big rock cliff above me.
Looking back on Kelly as she makes it up the steep ramp. You can see the groomed slope of the ski area just coming into the morning sunshine.
As I mentioned, the route looked like it "would go" to the right of that big cliff rock. This is in fact, the route for the Pearly Gates. However, it turns into a slim "hour glass."
This turned out to be the crux. It was a frozen 10-12 foot vertical ice wall that we had to negotiate.
Back in February, my HAMS class had a weekend field outing where we all went to do ice climbing in Ouray, CO. I am so glad I had gone on that trip and learned about ice climbing. As it turned out, when I made it to this ice wall, I had no fear because I had done ice climbing before. I learned to get a good stick with the ice axe and to trust the front points on the crampons. Not to mention...Kelly and I were both so grateful that we both had purchased brand new Petzel hybrid Sum'tec ice axes. These babies worked like a champ on the ice! Woohoo!
Once we popped up and over the vertical ice wall, Kelly said, "that was SPICEY!" After that we were back to a mellow snow ramp again.
It looks like there would be no more difficulties all the way to the summit.
As we got up a little higher, we saw this amazing view to the south of three other volcanos; Mount Jefferson, The Three Sisters, and Mount Bachelor.
Our remaining climb went quickly even though it required navigating through a deep mine field of sun cups.
Once we reached the ridge, we realized the summit was back to our left...not to the right. But it made for a beautiful view with Mount Adams (right) and Mount Rainier (left) off in the distance.
Closer to the actual summit was this amazing ice wall. Unlike any cornice or ridge I've ever seen! And now we can also see Mount Saint Helens in our view.
We made the summit about 5 hours after we started. We didn't push ourselves as we were planning to climb Mount Saint Helens the next day and then Rainier after that. So we just took it easy on our ascent. It turned out to be a mellow 1 mph pace or about 1,000 vertical feet per hour. Easy peasy. And showing off our new Petzel's!
On the other side of that ice wall looking east, the view down showed a glacier field that was filled with crevasses. I knew we would encounter those on Mount Rainier, but didn't know if we would have them on Mount Hood. Yup! This was my first look at these things and they we incredible to see.
Looking to the north you can see three volcanos; Mount Adams (right), Mount Rainier (middle) and Mount Saint Helens (left).
An interesting note is the we could actually see a total of eight volcanos from Mount Hood. Because we could also see Mount Shasta down in California to the right/east of Mount Jefferson.
As it turned out, this day was the second anniversary of my good climbing friend's death. Steve Gladbach passed away on June 23rd, 2013. I took his picture to the summit with me and had a good cry remembering him.
After close to an hour on the summit, it was time to head down. We had decided to take the Old Chutes route on our descent. So, heading west we go, through this crazy mine field of giant sun cups.
Kelly leads the way down the Old Chutes gulley.
All of the rock up here is covered with the most amazing coating of rime ice and ice structures. Can you see the ice dragon or is it a ice unicorn?
As we were heading back down we could see that the ski area was in full swing with their summer ski camps. People actually come from around the country and around the world who are training to be professional skiers or snowboarders. I learned that this is the only ski area in the country that stays open year round. We had to circumvent the ski slope all the way to the left/east, (the opposite side of the ski lifts), to hike down. It wasn't difficult to go around, it just made the trip longer.
Below the runs for skiers, they had some terrain parks with half pipes for the snowboarders. We were aiming due south for Mount Jefferson.
Before we started our climb, I prayed for safety and success. That prayer was once again answered. And, I'd also like to add a hearty thank-you to all of those CMC/HAMS instructors who volunteered so much of their time to help others learn the skills and safety in mountaineering. I'll go ahead and mention, we also had safety and success on Rainier just a few days after this climb.
Good-bye Mount Hood. You gave us a marvelous day and wonderful first (for me) climb of a volcano.
|Comments or Questions|
Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.