Place Name: Clackamas County
Place Description: State: Oregon
Elevation: 11,239 Feet
Prominence: 7,706 Feet
Elevation Gain: 2,810 Feet
Lists: US State High Point, Ultras Of The Lower 48, Oregon Top100, Mazamas Cascades Award
The Highest Point In Oregon
Mount Hood is one of the most recognizable mountains in the USA as it dominates the skyline of Portland. This volcano is still spouting steam and will erupt again someday. For now, climbing its steep and snowy slopes is the premier hike in Oregon.
- Guide services
- Amazing experience
- Views are unreal
- Lots of other climbers
As my peak bagging career progresses, I wanted to start taking on bigger mountains with a different degree of difficulty. One that fit the bill was Oregon’s Mount Hood.
There are few mountains that are more iconic than Mount Hood. This giant volcano dominates the skyline of Portland and can be seen from all over Oregon and Washington. With dozens of routes ranging in degrees of difficulty, Mount Hood has something for everyone. The most common route is the southside climb which requires snow gear and steep snow climbing with decent exposure in places.
My trip started 8 months before arriving to Northern Oregon when I booked a guided trip with Timberline Mountain Guides.
TMG has a 2-day program that includes snow school on day one and the summit bid on day two. Since I had never used snow gear or climbed on snow, this seemed like my best option.
We spent a few hours out in a snow gully learning how to walk up steep slopes with crampons, using an ice axe, self arrest, and team rope work.
Our trip also included a ride in the ski cat up above the Palmer Snow Field.
Our trek started from the lodge at 1 a.m. by jumping into the snow cat. It was freezing cold, in the teens, however, the high winds that were in the forecast were not materializing.
Once we stepped out of the cat at 8400 feet, the frigid cold was absolutely blasting. Crampons went on immediately and we started heading up the gentle slopes by lights from our headlamps. Our group consisted of 4 climbers and two guides.
The pace was slow and we had to start moving slower as one of our climbers was having trouble with the altitude. Even after a couple of rests, she tapped out at 9,600 feet and retreated down the mountain with one of the guides.
Meanwhile, the rest of our group plugged along as the sun started to climb We passed Devils Kitchen in the dark and found our way up Hogsback for a rest.
From Hogsback, we roped up with our guide and pulled out the ice axes. There were a few other guided teams ahead of us heading up the very steep slopes to the Old Chute.
The Pearly Gates were blocked off as the bergschrund had opened and made passing it difficult.
On the way up, the peak shadow from Mount Hood was absolutely breathtaking!
Once to the final section of the Old Chute, our guide set an ice anchor and climbed up to the top. From there, he belayed us up the chute. Climbing the chute was steep, facing into the mountain and kicking our toes into the snow and using the ice axe.
Once through the chute, we topped out on the ridge and had a short walk to the summit area. The views from the top are out of this world. Mount Adams and Mount Rainier to the north, Mount Jefferson and the Sisters complex to the south.
I think I actually teared up a bit. This was a climb I had a lot of self doubt heading into and I found myself on the roof of Oregon!
The winds were frigid up here and taking gloves off to take lots of pics was hard to do.
After the summit, we descended down the Old Chute the same way we went up. The descent to Hogsback had prime snow conditions and went faster than I expected.
The rest of the descent is a cake walk and nice to see everything we climbed up in the dark. The only difference is that the snow cat doesn’t pick you up and you have to hike all the way to the lodge.
The Final Word
This is an epic hike and epic mountain! An experience I’ll never forget and one that everyone should try. Although you don’t need a ton of experience to climb this one, it’s imperative that you don’t take it for granted.
Mount Hood is a serious mountain and can have serious consequences if you underestimate it. I would highly recommend Timberline Mountain Guides. They know this mountain like no other and take pride in their safety.
This is one state high point I truly savored!