Mt. Hood/Palmer Glacier
06/28/13 - 06/29/13
Martin Way Park & Ride, Olympia, WA
Mt. Hood is the tallest mountain (and volcano) in the state of Oregon. At 11,239 feet (3426 meters) it is truly a worthy alpine ascent. The volcano was first climbed by W.S. Buckley, W.L. Chittenden, James Deardorff, H.L. Pittock and L.J. Powell in 1857. The mountain lies 50 miles east of Portland. Mt. Hood is an amazing climb. It has been estimated that over 10,000 people attempt to climb the mountain each year. The climb is not an extremely difficult alpine ascent but in order to safely reach the summit a good understanding of glacier travel, route finding, and use of a rope and ice axe is essential. The route is considered the standard and most popular (easiest and fastest) route to the summit.
Priority given to Olympia branch basic climbing students needing a glacier climb for course credit. The route basically follows a CAT groomer path up from the Timberline Lodge past the Silcox Hut to the top of the Palmer chairlift. This first part is easy going, more of a slog than an alpine climb. Climbers should stay on the climbers path and try to avoid climbing up any ski slopes (especially during late or early ski season). Once at the same elevation as the top of the Palmer Lift you are on your own for the rest of the climb. Continue up snowfields towards Crater Rock which looks like a castle or pyramid of rock in the middle of the summit crater. You will want to enter what is called the devils kitchen on the right side of Crater Rock. On your right you will see giant vertical cliffs named Steel Cliffs On your way up to this area be aware that on climbers left there is a pumice ridge with the White River Glacier on the other side of this. In areas this ridge is very steep and you will want to avoid straying towards it as you may find yourself sliding down towards White River Glacier below! When you find yourself in the Devils Kitchen it would be prudent to put a climbing helmet on as rock fall from this point onward can be very dangerous, especially during hot days in the late spring and summer. From here follow the climbers path up the Hogsback, a steep snow ridge leading up to what looks like cliffs behind Crater Rock. When climbing this route be aware that you will be approaching a large bergschrund (a crevasse that forms when moving ice, in this case the Coalman glaicer, pulls away from stagnant ice above). Usually this is skirted by staying to climbers right although the exact location of the Hogsback is known to shift, sometimes by many meters, each year. My advice is to stick to the established climbers path for that given year. Once above the bergschrund there are generally two chutes that should get you up through the Pearly Gates onto the final summit slope. Sometimes this standard route can become backed up with climbers so another option would be to head to climbers left about halfway up the Hosback to climb the Old Crater variation. This route is very steep but it brings you up onto the summit slope just a little bit to the West of where the Pearly Gates route brings you. Once on the summit slope it is an easy stroll to the summit. I can't express enough the need for common sense at the summit. Depending on the time of year there can be very large cornices overhanging the northeast face of the mountain.