Ascent of Mount Hood on 2018-06-12

Climber: BMS 914

Others in Party:Jason C
Date:Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Hood
    Elevation:11239 ft / 3425 m

Ascent Trip Report

Back in 2012, my first summit attempt at Mount Hood was planned with my buddy Jason from college. He had hurt his back in the days leading up to the trip, but after receiving treatment from his Chiropractor, decided he was up to the ascent. Unfortunately, he re-injured the back trying to get his boots on in the parking lot at Timberline Lodge, which lead to me summiting Hood solo.

We had never made it back to Hood together (I went up again with others in 2013), so we got chatting about making another go at it, as he had yet to make it to the Oregon High Point, which was a goal he was still working toward (all the western state high points). So nearly six years later, he picked me up in his truck at the airport in Portland, and Hood 2.0 was underway.

Jason had rented a three story cabin online (at in the mountain town of Government Camp, OR. His girlfriend Maureen, his dog, and the two of us had a very nice place to stay just 10 minutes (or less) drive from the Timberline Lodge parking lot/South Side Route trailhead. We drove into town, had lunch (only one beer), bought some food for dinner, and got settled into the rental home, which was very nice and exceeded expectations. We actually got nearly all of our gear on in the living room, then drove to the Lodge almost ready to start, which was much better than getting dressed in the parking lot.

We filled out the required paperwork in the climber's cave at the edge of the parking lot, obtained the self-issued permit, and began our ascent in the darkness at around 12:30am.

It was still fairly cold as we stepped onto the Palmer Glacier, which was a good thing since warm temperatures seem to lead to nasty icefall during the descent (or late-starting ascents). The ice/snow churned up by the Snowcats was re-frozen and awkward to walk on in my mountaineering boots. Jason seemed to not be having the same difficulties, and I struggled just a little bit to keep up, not feeling all that great the first 45 minutes or so. The issue soon went away, and we moved up at a pretty good pace. Jason's conditioning was good, but he had little in terms of elevation adaptation prior to the trip (living not far from sea level in Oakland, CA). Well before we hit the Devil's Kitchen I was feeling great and moving very well up the ice. Our ascent route went a bit further west than I had gone previously, and the terrain seemed steeper than I remembered. The ice here was slippery, and we considered putting our crampons on, but ultimately opted to wait.

Even with the questionable footing I was easily powering up the mountain, and Jason was working to keep up as we passed other climbers. At the Kitchen, we stopped, took a break, and put on our crampons. The sun had been up for maybe 20 minutes by that point, and we were both enjoying the views. Looking up the Hogsback and beyond, everyone ahead of us was making for the Pearly Gates route, which I thought was odd. I had intended to use the Old Chute, but that seemed unlikely given everyone else was avoiding everything on the Coalman Glacier west of the Hogsback.

Be began working our way up the Hogsback, which seemed less steep than I remembered. I did manage to punch my way into a shallow crevasse here, being slightly off the route others had taken at the beginning of the Hogsback, but it was maybe two feet deep. We made it up just ahead of several other groups, and I was not keen on taking much of a break here and having them kick ice down on us, so we pressed on. The reason for everyone using the Pearly Gates route became apparent here, as the route down to the Hot Rocks on the west side of the Hogsback looked nothing like I remembered it, having been sculpted into a weird shape by fumaroles, wind, or something else. Getting down it looked like a pain, so we changed plans and headed for the Gates. Being a weekday, we didn't hit the sometimes-onerous crowds the weekends bring (by design), but there were still a couple of groups above us. One was near the bergschrund, the other approaching the left Gate. We kept going, stopping for me to take a brief video of the 'schrund. One of the groups above us had opted for the variant to the left (west) and were taking a very long time to ascend, apparently deciding to rig some sort of belay anchor just below the chutes on either side. The other group, probably sick of waiting for these guys to stop screwing around, headed into the right hand chute, which was apparently very icy, and they backed off and followed the other group up. Someone knocked a melon-sized chunk of ice down, which ended up nailing me on the upper right leg, a last minute flinch saving me from getting it square in the boys. It stung for a few minutes, but caused no other harm.

We actually caught the second group at the entrance to the west Gate, because they had to wait for the party in front of them for so long (you know, the guys busy playing with unneeded ropes and anchors, and knocking ice down onto fellow climbers). The gate proved steep but no more so than I remembered, maybe 60-65 degrees incline. I went with two axes, while Jason decided to go it with just one (even though he had a second one on him). Going was slow here, due mostly to people above us, but I took the time to get some cool pics. We hit the top of the steep section amid a field of small scale sastrugi. Jason looked pooped and clearly was feeling the elevation. But we only had maybe 75 feet of elevation left and 150 meters of ground to cover by that point, so it really didn't matter.

After picking our way over to the very summit, we stopped for the obligatory photos, and some snacks/breakfast. Jason was stoked he had made the summit, and I was elated for him, as well as being at the top of one of my favorite peaks.

We headed back the way we came up, with a bit of a wait for a group below us to get clear of the shooting gallery (i.e. the Pearly Gate chute we were descending). The trip back to the Hogsback went easily and without drama, we took off crampons at the Devil's Kitchen, and headed on down the mountain. Neither of us cared to glissade the steeper parts just below the Kitchen, and by the time Jason gave it a shot the temperature had warmed to the point of making the surface ice/snow too slushy to slide well in. He got a few slow runs in, but I mostly was able to keep up with him walking. Had we both had the gear, I would have loved to ski both up and down from the Kitchen, or as far as I could get.

The route past the ski resort was a bit of a slog, as it was getting quite warm in my soft shell and down parka. I stripped off layers and my beanie and helmet, but had forgotten my ballcap, leading to more sun on my face than I would have preferred (very mild burn). Jason called his girlfriend Maureen on his mobile phone, and she ran with the dog up from Government Camp to meet us at the trailhead. She arrived well ahead of us, and Jason gave her some weak directions on where we were so she could come up and meet us for what remained of the descent. Her running shoes weren't a good match on the ice, so after one needle-in-the-haystack attempt to find us, she waited for us not far from the entrance from the parking lot to the glacier. Jason's dog Jasper went nuts when he saw him, and came bounding up the last 75 meters to meet us.

After a well-earned nap, we had a decent dinner, and hung out for much of the next day, having lunch and beers at the Deschutes Brewing Company pub before I had to get back to the airport. Awesome trip!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5360 ft / 1633 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5360 ft / 1633 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.4 mi / 11.9 km
    Grade/Class:Grade I, AI2
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Glacier Climb, Ice Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Headlamp, Ski Poles
    Weather:Cold, Breezy, Clear
Cold and sunny after daybreak.
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5360 ft / 1633 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 5355 ft / 1632 m; Extra: 5 ft / 1m
    Loss on way in:5 ft / 1 m
    Distance:3.8 mi / 6.1 km
    Route:South Side - Pearly Gates
    Start Trailhead:Timberline Lodge   5884 ft / 1793 m
    Time:6 Hours 6 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5355 ft / 1632 m
    Distance:3.6 mi / 5.8 km
    Route:South Side - Pearly Gates
    End Trailhead:Timberline Lodge   5884 ft / 1793 m
    Time:3 Hours 34 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by BMS 914
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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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