I arrived at Timberline Lodge around 2:00 pm Thursday (7/21) with hopes
of attempting a solo summit bid that same evening. However, the
weatherman did not agree as he scheduled thunderstorms to start that
same evening. I decided to wait it out since the storms were only
scheduled to be there for 12 hours.
A view of Mount Hood from
That evening I stayed at Camp Creek Campground which is operated by
the Mount Hood National Forest, ZigZag Ranger District. This is a fee
supported campground just off Highway 26 about 10 miles from the
Camp Creek Campground.
My dwelling and dinner.
Around 3:00 am the gods spoke with thunder and lightning, but not
much rain. By the morning, it was overcast, light rain and HOT! I decided
to check the surrounding area out for other campgrounds and shopping.
Friday night I stayed in the Alpine Campground located just below the
Timberline Parking lot. This campground is also ran by the ZigZag Ranger
District at $16 per night. I awoke at midnight and prepared for the
summit bid. Packed away the site and drove to the Timberline parking
lot. Signed the register at 1:00 am and up the mountain I started.
The first section is a maintained trail to the Silcox Hut located 1
mile from the trailhead. From here, I headed east to the ski area
boundary and turned uphill. I walked the edge of the ski slopes until I
reached the top at 8,500’. The snow pack was considerably down from my
experience on previous trips.
Above the ski boundary, the Palmer Glacier was well formed and easy
going. In fact I did not put my crampons on until I reach 9,000 feet.
The moon was out very bright and I turned off my headlamp and
traveled with no problem. I was following two other climbers and
overtook them near 9,300 feet. It felt good knowing this old bag of
bones still can pass people.
Above 9,500 feet looking past Crater Rock.
The Palmer Glacier had a very large crevasse near 9,500 that forced
me to climb onto a scree and rock outcropping section to circumnavigate.
On this area, you will find two well defined tent sites, complete with rock walls build around
them for protection against the elements.
This would make a nice place to stop should you want to make this a two day trip. I
crossed over to clear the crevasse and continued toward Crater Rock. The
sulfur smell was quite noticeable even at 9’800, much more than previous
I dropped back down off the scree on the opposite side. The steepness
increased and I stopped to take short rests more often. The hint of a
sunrise was just now starting to appear. I was still using only my poles
and I ditched them along the scree and continued on with my ice axe.
The slope leading up to the right side of Crater Rock was firm and
steep. In some areas the glacier melted out to solid rock. You could
hear water running under your feet in the thin sections.
Passing the right side of
Crater Rock and seeing the Hogsback.
Moving around Crater Rock was done on a 35° - 45° slope as shown in
the picture above. To my right,
the glacier dropped off 200 to 500 feet. The Hogsback was still well
formed, but very steep this time. The boot path on the Hogsback lead up
to a wide Bergschrund that had a parallel crevasse just below it.
departed the hogsback where it met with the Bergschrund and you now
traversed just below the Bergschrund toward its right side.
|Looking up the Hogsback and over to the Bergschrund.
From this point through the Pearly Gates was a test of mettle. The
slope increased to 55° - 70° consisting of snow and ice. There was a set
of kicked-in steps from previous climbers. However, these steps are
weakened every afternoon when the sun hits and then freezes every night.
You could hear the ice crystals break under your foot on every step. A
couple of times I could feel only the front points take hold.
My ice axe often bounced off the hard surface as I used the pick to
assist my ascent. Every step I took was tested to ensure the crampons
Mount Hood and its morning
While looking back toward Crater Rock, I could see Mount Hood's
shadow over the skyline. This was quite impressive.
Soon I was on top, which now had some exposed rock and great views!
It was 7:00 am, 6 hours and 5’000 foot ascent after my start. I did not
want to stay long because the Pearly Gates was still in the shadows that
meant the footing would still be solid. I knew that once the sun starts
to hit the slope, it would soften into mash potatoes and I would not
feel safe descending. The route back down was so steep; climbers would
go down backward to kick-in steps. It was slow going down this way, but
safer. Should you slip, there was the Bergshrund and crevasse to welcome
you and if you missed them, there was almost a thousand feet of uncaring
|Views from the Summit.
With the heat of the day starting to hit, rocks were being thrown
down at you. On three occasions I watched rocks as big as a baseball go
flying by me making a loud whining noise. One was less than 2 feet from
me while I hung there precipitously on the steepest part of the slope.
Back on the Hogsback I felt safe again. The hike back down was
uneventful, but the sun was now burning down on you and it was hot!
My trip lasted 10 hours and 5 minutes. Hopefully this will not be my
last trip on this beautiful mountain. I must admit I did not like the
melted out conditions and next time I'll do it earlier in the season.
The last time I was here, June 2000, the conditions were perfect.