ascent and descent route: Palmer Glacier/Old Chute variation (south side)
members of group: Ricardo Moreno, Mike Bannister, and Zach Taylor.
11,239' Mt. Hood
photo- Mt. Hood. photo by Mike Bannister, 2011.
Mike, Pollo, and I had been kicking around the Pacific Northwest now for almost two weeks. We had summited and ridden Mt. Rainier and Mt. Shasta already. After we got off Rainier we still had time for one last peak before heading back to Colorado for work. We had initially wanted to do Adams but road access looked bad and it looked to be well over 20 miles round trip, which was doable in a couple days but we were not real motivated at the time for another long one.
We wanted something with a little less vertical gain and mileage. Looking through our Cascade book we settled on Mt. Hood. The ascent was only 5000' of elevation gain but the route still supplied some good climbing and riding and there was something cool about riding a peak in all three states we were in; California, Washington, and Oregon.
After climbing Rainier we made our way to Portland and stayed with friends there for the night of the 7th. We got up in the morning and made our way to the trailhead at the Mt. Hood Timberline ski area. The Timberline ski area is open year round and is where all the summer ski/snowboard camps are held on Mt. Hood. Mt. Hood is a dormant volcano and has the distinction of being the highest peak in Oregon.
photo- Mike Bannister and Ricardo Moreno getting ready to start skinning just above the Timberline ski area parking lot.
photo- The depression era lodge at Timberline ski area. photo by Zach Taylor, 2011.
When we arrived at the ski area the mountain was covered in clouds and visibility was poor. We guessed that we would be able to get above the clouds after some skinning though so we filled out our climbing permits and began the skin. The climber's trail parallels the ski area right along the climber's right side. Fortunately it was well wanded because the fog was thick for a while and we got above treeline quickly so visibility was very poor.
photo- Zach Taylor skinning through the fog on the Mt. Hood trail. photo by Mike Bannister, 2011.
We began to get above the fog eventually. Just as visibility was improving we noticed that we were skinning up next to the terrain park. Mike and I were feeling a little steezy so we decided to play around on some of the features...I sagged my pants down to the proper height for such things and invented a new sport; freestyle splitboard skinning brah;
photo- Zach Taylor steezing it out in the Timeberline ski area terrain park with Mike Bannister filming the steeze. photo by Ricardo Moreno, 2011.
photo- Mike Bannister showing good steeze(for a skier) in the Timberline ski area terrain park. photo by Zach Taylor, 2011.
After we were done with our fun we resumed the skin and climbed above the ski area to about 9100' where we set up camp. It took us about an hour of hacking with axes and shoveling the shattered ice to get a platform dug out enough to secure our tent to.
photo- Pollo and Mike working on the tent platform. photo by Zach Taylor, 2011.
The winds were blowing pretty good, probably sustained in the mid 20s so getting the tent set up and secured without blowing away was quite the effort. Eventually we got camp set up and the views from above the clouds on Hood were incredible.
photo- High Camp on Hood. photo by Zach Taylor, 2011.
photo- High Camp on Mt. Hood. photo by Mike Bannister, 2011.
photo- High camp on Mt. Hood. photo by Mike Bannister, 2011.
Pollo and I walked down to the camp beneath us with a bottle of Jager to say hi and see who was camped below us. It turned out to be a guided group that was attempting to summit the next day. All the clients were already in bed. We ended up talking to the guides a bit and they came back up to our camp for a quick safety meeting and some conversation. We talked mountain climbing for a while and they left after a bit since they were starting their hike at 1:00am.
We did not go to bed until after 10 since we were not planning on getting up till 7 or 8. We were only 2100' below the summit, we were not in a hurry to get going in the morning. The sunset pictures we took were some of the best photos of the trip.
photo- Sunrise over Hood high camp. photo by Mike Bannister, 2011.
photo- Pollo enjoying the view. photo by Zach Taylor, 2011.
photo- Looking out over the clouds, high on Mt. Hood. photo by Zach Taylor, 2011.
photo- Sunset over Oregon. photo by Ricardo Moreno, 2011.
photo- Almost dark on Hood. photo by Ricardo Moreno, 2011.
We slept in and started hiking between 7 and 8. We tried to skin but switched over to crampons 100' above camp. The ice that formed up over night made skinning almost impossible.
photo- Mike Bannister hiking on Mt. Hood. photo by Ricardo Moreno, 2011.
There were a lot of climbers coming down the mountain while we were going up. One group was the guides we had hung out with the night before and their clients. We stopped and talked to them for a few minutes. After summiting they were descending the Old Chute and a large ice block broke off tumbling large ice boulders down hill and nearly took out their entire party. One girl was injured and still on the volcano with a rescue group. Everyone was ok in their party. It was another reminder of how easily accidents can happen in the mountains sometimes. We offered our congratulations on the summit to their group and continued uphill. Eventually we left the Palmer glacier and entered into the crater of the volcano.
There are areas of the crater that were smoking called fumerols. Apparently sometimes people who lack common sense climb down into them to explore only to find out that they are oxygen vaccums and suffocate. We appreciated them from a safe distance.
photo- Zach Taylor winding into the crater of Mt. Hood. photo by Mike Bannister, 2011
photo- A fumerol on Mt. Hood. photo by Mike Bannister, 2011.
The rescue group was with the injured girl in the crater of the volcano. We asked if they needed any help and they said no so we kept our distance and took a quick rest break in the crater next to another party that was on their way down. It turned out that I knew one of the people in the other group. She was the gilrfriend of a guy I work with in Vail, Co. It is always funny the crazy places you run into others sometime. I really did not expect to meet her in Oregon in the crater of a volcano.
Anyway, Pollo, Mike, and I crossed the Hogback and began climbing up the Old Chute variation. The Old chute variation is actually a headwall that splits into 4 or 5 chutes that rise out of the crater to lookers left of the Pearly Gates and the Hogback. I chose one of the steeper chutes to ascend at the top. It made for some airy climbing for a couple minutes. It got narrow, hard, and steep for a bit. I ended up climbing by front pointing with just the front inch of my crampons in the snow and used my axe like an ixe tool swinging the blade into the snow repeatedly. I almost wished I had two ice tools here instead of a mountaineering axe for a bit.
After 30 feet or so of the steepest part the pitch angle eased and I stepped onto Hood's summit ridge. We made our way along the ridge for a couple hundred feet to the top of Oregon, Mt. Hood's summit.
We had beautiful weather and no wind on the summit. We hung out on the summit for a while taking in the views. Big smiles went all around as we looked north to Rainier which we had climbed a few days ago. There was a great sense of accomplishment as we sat up there thinking about the last week in a half in the Pacific Northwest and all the adventures we had had.
The summit had great views of Adams, St. Helens, Jackson, and the Sisters.
photo- Zach Taylor climbing the crux of the Old Chute variation. photo by Mike Bannister, 2011.
photo- Mike Bannister about to step onto Hood's summit. photo by Zach Taylor, 2011.
photo- Mike Bannister above the Cooper Spur on Mt. Hood. photo by Zach Taylor, 2011.
photo- Team Colorado on top of Mt. Hood. photo by Zach Taylor, 2011.
We walked back down the ridge about 150' and then put on skis and board and prepared for the descent. The line we climbed was too steep and narrow for riding but the chute next to it made a reasonable, albeit steep alternative for the descent. We dropped in one at a time making some pretty technical jump turns on hard, steep snow.
photo- A look at the chute we rode down once these climbers cleared out. photo by Mike Bannister, 2011.
photo- Mike Bannister skiing the Old Chute on Mt. Hood. photo by Ricardo Moreno, 2011.
After a few hundred feet of steep, techy jump turns things opened up and the pitch angle mellowed out as we descended down into the crater of Mt. Hood.
photo- Zach Taylor descending down into the crater of Mt. Hood. photo by Ricardo Moreno, 2011.
photo- Zach Taylor looking back up at the Old Chute route from the crater of Hood. photo by Ricardo Moreno, 2011.
photo- Mike Bannister in the crate of Mt. Hood. photo by Ricardi Moreno, 2011.
We continued the descent down to base camp. The turns and views were awesome...
photo- Zach Taylor riding Mt. Hood. photo by Ricardo Moreno, 2011.
photo- Mike Bannister skiing Hood. photo by Ricardo Moreno, 2011.
photo- Mike Bannister skiing Mt. Hood. photo by Ricardo Moreno, 2011.
photo- Pollo skiing Mt. Hood. photo by Zach Taylor, 2011.
photo- Mike Bannister skiing Mt. Hood. photo by Zach Taylor, 2011.
photo- Mike Bannister almost back to base camp on Mt. Hood. photo by Zach Taylor, 2011.
We got back to camp, packed up, lounged in the sun a bit, and then dropped in for the final run down through the Timberline ski area and out. We decided to ride through the terrain park. I had not really been in a terrain park at all this year so I jibbed a couple rails with a fully loaded over night mountaineering pack and my splitboard. Why not, you know?
photo- Pollo getting air on Mt. Hood. photo by Mike Bannister, 2011.
photo- Mike enjoying some sunshine on Mt. Hood. photo by Ricardi Moreno, 2011.
photo- Zach Taylor sliding a rail at the Timberline ski area beneath Mt. Hood. photo by Mike Bannister, 2011.
We arrived back at our car after some slushy turns through the ski area. It was an awesome trip. Between 5/30 and 6/9 we summited and rode/skied Mt Shasta, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Hood. It was an incredible tour of the Pacific Northwest and I cannot wait to get back out there for more mountaineering adventures. Good times were had by all but all good things must come to an end. It was time for us to return to friends, family, and work in Colorado so we packed up and headed home.