Mount Hood, OR


Peak No. 1 of 8

  • Day 1, start 6pm July 14
  • Team: Brian, John, Bob Roe of Willard, Washington, and Harry Spehar of Madison, Wisconsin
  • Summit: 11,239', 5300' gain, 6:45 hours
  • Car-to-car: 8 miles, 10 hours

Brian's family, Harry, and I met across the Columbia from Hood River, Oregon at about 1pm. After caching my pickup, we herded the motor home up to Timberline Lodge on the side of Mt. Hood.

There we met Bob, an old friend of Big Jeff and a former Celebration participant. He was only intending to climb to the top of the Palmer chairlift at about 8,500 feet. This fact made the quartet look slightly odd: as we started our uphill slog from Timberline Lodge at 6pm, Bob was just in shorts with a light daypack, while we other three were loaded like camels.

We were carrying huge packs containing all the equipment we needed for a night climb, plus ski gear for the descent. The snow was perfect for skiing; freshly groomed, and a little soft for the first few inches of depth. We were psyched.

We were able to climb quite high on the mountain before it became necessary to put on crampons. This was about the same time we needed headlamps, so it turned into a full suit-up as the sun went down and the temperature dropped with it. Even in the twilight, visibility was quite good.

Then, as we neared the base of Crater Rock, the night turned totally black. The quarter moon had set and the mountain hid us from Portland's lights. Now my world was contained by the small, lonely circle of light cast by my headlamp.

The night seemed to lose some of its chill when those circles combined on the Hogsback as we stopped to rope up.

Climbing up the steepening snow in the dark was a little disorienting. As we approached the fearsome bergschrund, the dim glow of our headlamps showed little bits of helicopter rotor blade still on the snow. It was pitch black and the all the talk of the recent bergschrund disaster on this route made Harry somewhat nervous. After all, it was his first time on a glacier. Nonetheless, Harry did an outstanding job.

We summited at about 12:40am on the 15th of July. The lights of Portland were twinkling happily below us, as the weather was crystal clear. We laughed and smiled on the top for half an hour, with one summit down. That left seven to go, so we headed down.

It wasn't too long until we reached our cached skis at the top of the Palmer chairlift. Unfortunately, the snow had frozen up so hard that skiing was very, well, unpleasant.


Nevertheless, we arrived back at Timberline at about 4am, a great time of day to begin climbing Mt. Adams.


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