Mount Hood/North Side

Snow, glacier, and ice climbing with exposure, rock fall, and avalanche potential on the Cooper Spur or North Face routes. Because of the dangers that increase as the day warms, this route is best done as a carryover up from Cloud Cap and down the south side to Timberline Lodge.

getting there

Take I-5 to approximately 15 mi north of the Oregon state line to I-205 bypass around Portland to US-26. Travel east on US-26 for about 50 mi. Just past Government Camp turn left at Timberline Lodge turnoff. Drive 8 mi and park in lodge parking lot.

Leave a car here and shuttle to Tilly Jane or Cloud Cap campground by driving east on US-26 and north on SR-35. Turn left onto  Cooper Spur Road and then left onto Cloud Cap Road. At the T intersection, turn right for Cloud Cap Trailhead (5,800 ft) or left for the Tilly Jane Trailhead (5,760 ft). It's about a 40-minute drive. Both have campgrounds. Tilly Jane, near a creek, is more primitive, but is less crowed and quieter.

ascent route

cooper spur

Difficulty: Basic Glacier Climb

Hike the trail from Cloud Cap or Tilly Jane until it connects to the Cooper Spur Trail (6,600 ft). Ascend the trail to permanent the snow field (8,860 ft). Rope up here or proceed up to Tie-In Rock (9,400 ft) and rope up there. Ascend steep snow up to 45°—consider running belays from 10,400 ft to 10,800 ft depending on your party’s experience and conditions. A climbing line to the right minimizes rock fall risk in this area. From 10,800 ft, bear left and climb on snow and between rocks to the summit plateau.

north face

difficulty: intermediate mountaineering climb

Hike the trail from Cloud Cap or Tilly Jane until it connects to the Cooper Spur Trail (6,600 ft) on the moraine above the glacier. Continue ascending for 200 feet and then descend climber's left off of the moraine onto the Elliot Glacier. If climbing the route in one day or from a camp below 7,500 ft, stay on the south side (climber's left) while ascending the Elliot Glacier avoiding the serac's in the middle of the glacier. Eventually the route heads north (climber's right) toward the center of base of the North Face.

If climbing the route in two days, there are good sites for a high camp  just above Langille Crags. To get there, traverse across the Elliot Glacier at 7,500 ft and ascend  snow onto the Langille Crags/Ridge following the south side of the ridge up towards Snow Dome reaching the camp sites near the crest of the ridge at around 8,400 ft. From camp ascend while trending climber's left (south) back onto the Elliot Glacier navigating the seracs towards the base of the North Face.

Cross the large bergschrund at 9,400 ft (many climbers cross near the rock walls on the edges of the crevasse). Above the bergschrund there are a two gully's that can be climbed. The left gully starts with a longer steeper ice pitch (Water Ice 3-4) followed by a long steep snow climb. The right gully contains multiple shorter ice pitches (Water Ice 2-3) along with steep snow and possibly some rock steps near the summit.



Approach from Cloud Cap or Tilly Jane to the base of  the North Face gullies, continue climber's right (west) under and around the North Cleaver, and then left and up to the base of the Eliot Headwall. Alternatively, cross the Eliot Glacier below the icefall and climb to the Snow Dome at around 9,000 ft (the area between the Coe and Eliot glaciers), then up towards the Horseshoe Rock and climber's left (east) to the base of the headwall. Another option is to summit from the South Side, descend along the Cathedral Ridge to an area just below the Horseshoe Rock, and finally to traverse east to the base of the headwall.

There are countless variations involving mixed 50°-65° climbing on snow and rock, and later in the season (early spring) alpine and water ice. Choose your own adventure. The climb is condition dependent, and may requires tricky route-finding. Do not attempt without well consolidated snowpack on the headwall, in high wind, or in poor visibility. Bailing from the route may be risky, difficult, and time-consuming.



Approach from Cloud Cap or Tilly Jane to the base of the Snowdome (area between the Coe and Eliot glaciers) at ~8,400 ft, and camp there. From the camp, climb low-angle slopes to another flat area at ~9,400 ft. From there, a prominent feature known as the Horshoe Rock, and a bergschrund, should be visible. Depending on the season, the route may go on either side (left or right) of the Horseshoe Rock. Starting around 9,600 ft, there are several pitches of steep 45°-50° snow or neve to gain the Cathedral Ridge where easier terrain leads southeeast, and then east towards the summit, joining Illumination Saddle routes at 10,800 ft. Two tools, snow and ice protection recommended.


Descend the South Side (Palmer Glacier) route to Timberline lodge. Do NOT descend the climbing route—it is too steep and soft with increased rock fall and avalanche danger by mid-day to make this a safe descent.


cooper spur

Camp to Summit 7-9 5,335
Summit to Trailhead 2-4

north face

Trailhead to Camp 5-7 2,600
Camp to Summit 4-8 3,000
Summit to Trailhead 2-4


cooper spur

Standard glacier gear.

north face

Standard glacier gear, two ice axes or tools, crampons, pickets, ice protection (ice screws), small rack of rock gear.


  • Guidebook: Best Climbs Cascade Volcanoes by Jeff Smoot (Falcon Guides 2012).
  • These are not "beginning" basic or intermediate climbs! Students should have experience climbing steep snow under exposed conditions and be in top physical condition. Leaders may want to make this a "Leaders Permission Only" climb because of steep snow, ice, and exposure.
  • These climbs are best done in one day with a very early start to avoid soft snow and rock fall danger.
  • Difficulty: Intermediate Mountaineering Climb
  • Length: 8.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 5,335 ft
  • 11,239 ft
  • Green Trails Mount Hood Climbing No. 462S
  • USGS Mt Hood North, OR
  • USGS Mt Hood South, OR
Trip Reports

This is a list of titles that represent the variations of trips you can take at this route/place. This includes side trips, extensions and peak combinations. Not seeing a title that fits your trip? Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.

  • Mount Hood/Cooper Spur
  • Mount Hood/North Face
  • Mount Hood/North Face Right Gully
  • Mount Hood/North Face Left Gully
  • Mount Hood/Eliot Headwall
  • Mount Hood/Sunshine Route

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