At an elevation of 11,250 stands the tallest peak in Oregon, Mt. Hood. The iconic mountain brings in roughly 15,000-20,000 visitors around the world attempting to summit each year. Located just 50 miles east of Portland, Mt. Hood is a popular climb for urban city-dwellers and Pacific Northwest adventurers alike. In fact, Mt. Hood is the second most climbed glaciated peak in the world behind Mt. Fuji. Despite the large number of climbers, climbing the prominent mountain presents serious challenges each climber must be prepared for. From appropriate gear to knowing the proper weather, safety techniques and other necessary precautions, there are several components you must take into consideration before climbing Hood.
Proper gear is vital when climbing Mt. Hood. Simply forgetting one piece of equipment is detrimental to summiting or not. Do your due diligence and make a check-list before you take off, and check it over before you head up. Depending on what route you do and your experience climbing, the type of gear you bring may vary. Below is a list of the bare minimum amount of equipment for the South Side route. To rent gear visit this link.
The easiest and safest climb is located on the Southside of the mountain starting from the historic Timberline Lodge. Even as the easiest route, this journey proves to be plenty difficult. This route doesn’t become technical until the last 600 feet of the climb. If you are in good shape and have trained, the climb may take anywhere between 4-7 hours. Other climbers should prepare for a longer climb between 6-9 hours. Descending from summit should take approximately half the time. In total, round trip is about 7 miles, but with steep inclines the hike proves to be quite the killer.
From Timberline Lodge head north through the parking lot and up the snow bank. Make your way right of the ski boundary, this cat-track will be your interstate all the way up to Crater Rock. There are stakes along the way, but the well-worn path should direct you all the way to the top as well as the long trail of headlamps from other climbers.
11:00 P.M. Arrive at Timberline Lodge and fill out registration/permits. Use the restroom one last time.
12:30 A.M. Depart the Parking Area.
1:30 A.M. Arrive at Silcox Warming Hut (11) and take break if needed.
4:00 A.M. Arrive at Upper Palmer Lift House (9) and take break if needed. Check weather conditions and visibility.
5:00 A.M. Arrive at Crater Rock (3) if you do not have crampons on yet, this is the time to strap them in. This is the last break area before you go through Old Chute or the Pearly Gates.
6:00 A.M. Summit (1) You made it, shout it from the mountaintop! Take some pictures, enjoy a snack and a drink, pat yourself on the pack and head back down.
7:30 A.M. Arrive back at Crater Rock (3) at this point you can take of your crampons. Keep them on if you feel more comfortable.
9:00 A.M. Arrive back at Timberline Lodge Parking Area. Take breaks along the way if you need. At some points you can slide on your butt which will cut the travel time and also give your legs a much needed rest.
9:30 A.M. Nap, or if your adrenaline is still pumping enjoy a beer because Lord knows you deserve it.
When to Climb
The best window for climbers taking the Southside route is between mid April-mid June. You can go anytime of the year, but this specific route is best during this time. Any earlier you have a risk of avalanches, and any later presents the risk of landslides, rock fall and ice fall. Weather and mountain conditions should be checked before you climb as it’s the ultimate indicator of whether to climb or not.
There is no cost to climb Mt. Hood. Upon arrival, visit Timberline Lodge and fill out the required permit along with the registration form. If lost, there is no guarantee that anyone will come looking for your group, however. No one is babysitting you. This is why it is vital to have the necessary equipment, emergency plan and telephones to call or signal people in the scenario you may get lost or need help. The permit is mandatory, so make sure this is filled out before you leave.