Peak Name: Mount Hood

Peak Height: 11,239'

Location: Cascade Mountains, Oregon

Route: Pearly Gates

Trailhead: Timberline Lodge

Difficulty: AI2

Round Trip Stats: 7 mi, 5400 ft

Date Climbed: 5/1/2016

Mount Hood is touted as the most accessible glaciated summit in the contigous US; a ski resort resides on its lower southern flanks. It also happens to be the highpoint of the state of Oregon. For these reasons thousands of climbers from around the country line up to take a crack at this peak. My first ascent of Mount Hood was back in June of 2007; it was my first time on a glacier.

Recently nasty spring weather in Colorado prompted Dom and I to make a last minute escape to Oregon. I never thought I'd find myself fleeing to the Pacific Northwest to avoid the rain, but stranger things have happened I suppose. Our main objective on this trip was rock climbing at Smith Rock State Park but since Dom hadn't been up Mount Hood yet and conditions were good we decided to make a quick ascent on our way through.

We left Timberline Lodge at 2am in an obnoxious gale. A long line of headlamps already decorated the slopes above. Rain jackets and pants provided reasonable protection from the wind but hiking in these conditions was not pleasant; I wanted to turn around more than once and we saw plenty of folks doing just that. Fortunately as we neared the Devil's Kitchen several thousand feet above we entered a wind shadow that offered some reprieve. Despite not hiking in over a month we were both feeling quite strong and managed to motor past all but one soloist by the time we reached the Pearly Gates.

The Pearly Gates are situated right below the summit and are the crux of the route. On this day they contained a short section of alpine ice and I was happy to have my 2nd tool along; my mountaineering axe was nearly useless. Just a couple of weeks ago this section was apparantly a trivial snow climb. On my first trip up Mount Hood we actually found real water ice and a rope was warranted.

Downclimbing the Pearly Gates unroped was mentally challenging for me as I'd never had to downclimb ice. Dom walzted down with just his mountaineering axe like it was nothing. I slowly backed down swinging my tool into the ice and managed to get a bad case of wood fingers followed by the dreaded screaming barfies. The rest of the descent was trivial and we were back at the parking lot shortly after 8am. Time to celebrate with a stack of huckleberry pancakes at the Huckleberry Inn in Government Camp!

Home | Peak List | Canyon List | Trip Reports | Colorado | Utah | Wyoming | Montana | Arizona | New York | South Dakota | International