Friday’s forecast had climbers rejoicing that we would have one of the few good climbing days in April. The lingering snow storm was to dissipate Thursday evening to make way for a rare blue bird day Friday. The plan was to take my friend Greg up for his first time climbing Mt. Hood.
Mountain: Mt. Hood
Route: South Side / Pearly Gates
Elevation Gain: 5,339ft
Length: 7 miles round trip
Upon arriving at Timberline Lodge at 7:30pm, the weather was still very cold and windy. There was a snow/rain mix happening off and on as well but glimmers of hope came as blue skies tried to peak through the clouds. I “went to sleep” around 9:30pm hoping that the forecast would hold true. I rarely sleep well in the rig at Timberline. Parking lot lights and excited energy always keep me up.
The alarm came quickly at 12:30am. I poked my head out the car window and saw clear skies and stars all around! The climb was on! We started out at about 1:20am. The climber’s trail had a bunch of fresh powder on it from the previous days’ storms. It was slow going as we had to break trail, post holing as we went. We took our first break at 7000’ near the usual Silcox hut stop 1 mile in. A couple of other teams caught up with us and started breaking the trail. On the way to the top of Palmer glacier we followed their tracks and it was much better.
At the top of Palmer, 8500’, there was a party going on! Climbers everywhere taking a break and preparing for the upper mountain. We ate our CLIF bars, drank some water and donned our crampons and ice axes. The steep hike of the Triangle Moraine was easier than last time. Boot path all the way up. It wasn’t icy at all this time. Daylight started creeping from far away and before we knew it Hood’s shadow was on display in all its glory as we were gaining close to Devil’s Kitchen. Where something rotten is always cooking.
We reached Devil’s Kitchen, 10,100’ around 8am. We took a much-needed break and prepared for the technical portion of the climb. The path up to the start of the Hogsback, 10,500 was steeper than normal, but we made short work of it and were on our way up to the top. The Bergschrund has not opened yet, so we climbed up then started traversing over to the Pearly Gates near the top of the hogsback.
A little bit before the Pearly Gates we followed the boot path up, then turned straight up and front pointed to the base of the gates. At this time, there were about 10 of us, but we had to wait 30 minutes for a group of 8 skiers to climb down the gates before our turn. We took selfies, drank water and finally our turn came.
I was frustrated from the long wait and speed climbed up the Pearly Gates. Greg followed. Once out of the gully, I had Greg walk in front of me for the nice stroll to the summit proper. We topped out at 9:20am. It was a perfect blue bird day. Conditions were amazing and Greg made his first Mt. Hood summit. It was my 2nd successful summit for 2017.
The climb down wasn’t as great. The sun was beating down and turning the fresh powder into mush. We took our time, one focused step at a time and after what seemed forever we were safely at the base of the hogsback. The long slog back was brutal as usual. It’s always tough taking that 3 miles walk back down after working so hard on so little sleep. Though it hurts less when you know you’ve made the summit. We finally made it back to Timberline close to 2pm.
Celebrated at the usual Calamity Janes restaurant in Sandy with a nice big juicy burger with fries. It was great day to climb.