Ascent of Mount Hood on 2020-07-06

Climber: David Darby

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Monday, July 6, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Hood
    Elevation:11239 ft / 3425 m

Ascent Trip Report

It was difficult to get good GPS tracks that matched the write ups. I didn't know much about climbing hood other than lots of people do it. Usually it's pretty clear - you follow a trail. But, there were lots of different descriptions. I called the timberline lodge and was told due to Covid - I had to park in the "lower" parking. What was that - was it at the bottom of the ski hill? Anyway, the day before my climb, I drove out to the area and up to the timberline lodge for a little info my self. There is a large parking lot at the timberline lodge that is divided into 2. The "upper/closer" part is reserved for day use (skiers), and the other part (lower/further from lodge) is reserved for hikers. I thought I saw "no overnight parking/camping" signs, but there were campers parked in the hikers lot. Ok - so I figured out the parking/starting point. You can see the summit from the lot and I decided I would return ~4am. I knew it was a little later than many people, but since I was going solo I wanted some people ahead of me incase I had route questions.

I booked a room at the Best Western in Goverment Camp about 15 mins down the road from the Timberline lodge (it was completely booked). Note, there are limited grocery options in "town", so get stuff on way up from Portland.

3:30 - Alarm goes off at the Best Western. I dress, eat some breakfast, grab my gear and drive up to the Timberline Lodge Hikers parking lot.
4:10 - Arrive at the parking lot. I was hoping to see other hikers preparing to hike, or see headlamps on the ski slopes. Nothing. How could no one be hiking today (Monday after 4th July weekend)? I wait a few minutes thinking to myself - am I going to be the only person attempting this mt today?
4:20 - I depart. It's a nice night/morning - full moon, light breeze, low 40's.
4:21 - I step off the parking lot onto snow. The snow is soft'ish, lightly frozen on top. I stop and put on my crampons.
4:25 - I'm hiking up the ski trail toward the ski lift in the distance on my left. Once on the "groomed" ski trail, the going is good. However, the snow is "frozen granular". I'm wearing my mid-weight hikers and Hillsound crampon pro's - and I'm not happy with the crampon "bite". I start to second guess my footing choice and wish I had worn LaSportiva's and full crampons. I decide to continue and will base my go/no-go on the snow conditions higher up.
5:43 - I reach the to of the ski area/chairlifts. The sun is rising (hidden) ahead to my right (in the east) and off my rear left is the beautiful morning shadow of Mt. Hood being cast on the undercast below me. I take a few pics. I also notice a few other hikers shortly ahead of me - finally.
6:00 - I catch the frist group ahead of me. Two people are on skis, and the other is a former RMI guide. We talk for a few minutes. They had left the parking lot ~3:30 and told me there was another group ahead of them as well. Perfect! The snow is different above the ski area/trails. It's kind of like frozen cotton candy that crumbles when stepped on - and doesn't really give me a solid stick feeling with my crampons. But, I continue as it's not that steep. There is a large fin that is sticking up ahead - that's crater rock. You head to the right of that and shortly you will see Devil's kitchen. Actually you will smell it (sulfur) before you see it. After Devil's kitchen you continue onto the hogsback - the ridge in the snow. It gradually gets steeper and steeper. I was expecting the boot pack to be really good after the 4th of July weekend - but it's not as good as I expected. I continue following the boot pack up to the right toward the pearly gates (I've only heard of them, but not seen them). As I approach the pearly gates there is a couple just exiting the bottom and I talk to them about the route. They say it is good - just a ~20' section that is icing but if I stay left it is good. I decide to continue with ice axe in my left, and whipit in my right. I am very careful with footing and tools and ascend through the pearly gates without any issues. Popping out the top is a relief and I make my way around and up to the summit.
7:45 - Summit! A couple of quick pictures. There is a group that was already on the summit and they made their way across to I assume the old chute to descend. I choose to decide the pearly gates - the same route I came up since I know it. Two young climbers with skiis pop out the pearly gates and join me on the summit. They are planning to eat cookies for a while and wait for the snow to soften to ski down. I wouldn't - my guess is it will take 3 hours for the snow to get descent/safe to ski. I wish them good luck and head down. I meticulously pick (axe and whipit) my way back down the pearly gates. Near the bottom are 2 climbers ascending and they wait a few minutes for me to pass. I continue down climbing for a while till I feel comfortable turning around and walking in the frozen/icy boot trail.
8:35 - I make my across the hogsback and take a few pics. I'm casting a nice shadow off to my right onto the snow.
8:50 - I'm making my way past Devil's kitchen and sun is now popping over the mountain/cliff behind me and the snow is quickly softening.
9:18 - I reach the top of the ski area. There are 100's of kids training on ~20 different course's on the hill. I make way over to a ski patrol and ask for directions down (follow under the ski lift?). He tells me the hikers trail is at the far side of the snow/ski slope and is marked (to my left when descending). I walk past all the kids grouped up above each course and find the marked trail. It's a frustrating walk down because I'm now sinking ~1 foot into the soft snow with each step. But, I continue the march toward the bottom and start to feel happy that I successfully ascended and descended the dangerous section.
10:05 - Back at the car. Success!! Under 6hr RT - quicker than I expected.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5376 ft / 1638 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.3 mi / 11.7 km
    Route:Hikers parking lot, Timberline Lodge
    Trailhead:Ski area  5863 ft / 1787 m
    Route Conditions:
Snow on Ground, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Headlamp, Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by David Darby
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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