This weekend I finally checked off my biggest Portland Bucket List item: climbing Mount Hood. Standing at 11,249 ft high, Mount Hood is the highest peak in Oregon and fourth-highest in the Cascade Range. This mountain is a sight to behold on a clear day. At times it is literally breath-taking. Often on my drive home, I'll turn a bend and there will be Hood, as big and majestic as ever. And I think to myself, "I want to climb that thing." Several times I've made plans to climb it, and we've ended up having to cancel the trip due to bad weather (cloudy conditions, snow, wind, avalanches).
So last week when Drew told me the climbing conditions were looking good for the coming weekend, I tried not to get my hopes up, but I really wanted to be able to climb it on what might be the last good climbing weekend of the year. The conditions stayed perfect and my hopes became a reality.
So late Friday night, Drew, Pete and I made the 60 mile drive southeast of Portland, parked at Timberline Lodge, laced up our boots, threw on our packs and started hiking at 1:00am. I had only taken an hour nap Friday evening, so I was pretty exhausted but completely stoked at the same time. Our headlamps lit the way as we made the 3,000 ft climb from the parking lot to the Palmer Glacier. Pete turned around at this point and left Drew and I to push ahead on our own. The stars up there were amazing. We even saw several shooting stars. And the sunrise from behind the mountain was absolutely glorious. In contrast, the smell of sulfur coming from some of the vents in the volcano were stronger than I imagined (and oddly made me crave deviled eggs).
Drew and I climbed past Crater Rock and Devil's Kitchen, over the Hogsback and up the Old Crater towards the summit. The last several hundred feet at the top where tough and required a lot more strength than I anticipated. Foot placement with your crampons and having a strong hold in the side of the mountain with your ice ax was crucial. It was slow and steady (and wore me out), but we made it safely to the top and summited at 7:30am. The view from the summit was amazing. You can see 7 volcanos (Rainier, St Helens, Adams, Jefferson, and the 3 Sisters). I'm so grateful for a clear morning.
The way down the mountain was long and tough on the quads (now I see why so many climbers are skiers as well - it's so much faster and easier to get down). My boots were not the most comfortable footwear I've ever worn and they definitely left their mark with blisters and bruises on my heels and shins. I can't honestly say that I loved every minute of the climb - there were several times when I thought, "What the heck am I doing? I should be curled up in my comfy bed right now." But every minute of the tough climb was worth the overall experience. It was all pretty sureal, actually, that for so long I've wanted to climb this mountain and now... I have! Thanks Drew, for making this trip with me and encouraging me to keep climbing! What an experience.
Drew and Pete at Palmer
making my way up the mountain as the sun rises
this mountain is a beast
the final push
the most technical part towards the top
Mt Hood Summit: Saturday, August 6th 7:30am
we did it!
Drew and Mary's summit of Hood
Drew loves documenting with videos... someday I believe he will create a climbing documentary.
Beyond the Limits
"The bizarre trend in mountaineers is not the risk they take, but the large degree to which they value life. They are not crazy because they don't dare, they're crazy because they do. These people tend to enjoy life to the fullest..."
- Lisa Morgan