Mount Hood/South Side

Also known as the Palmer Glacier route, this is a Grade II, Class 3 glacier climb. Devil's Kitchen Headwall is a moderate ice climb variation.

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.

South Side (Palmer Glacier)

ASCENT ROUTE

basic glacier, strenuous 1, technical 2, season: May-jun

Follow Palmer Glacier, along east edge (right side) to avoid interfering with ski trails (as directed by sign at climbers’ trailhead), to Triangular Moraine above cat track (5° bearing from Silcox hut). Climb above Triangular Moraine (8,500 ft) on most gentle ground to east side of Crater Rock (slope opposite Steel Cliff). Follow round Crater Rock, above sulfur-fuming Devil’s Kitchen (10,400 ft), to its north side to find wind carved snow formation called the Hogsback.

The “Old Chute” route is now preferred. From the low point on the crest of the Hogsback, descend the far side (to the north) then go straight up (east) a large steep open face into a narrowing and even steeper (~50°) chute on the right. It tops out onto a level spot about 50 yards from the summit. It is also possible to bear slightly left near the top of the steep face, before the chute, and gain the summit ridge by a very steep final slope. Running belays with pickets is recommended.

TRIP PROFILE

SEGMENT TIME (HOURS) ELEVATION GAIN (FEET)
Trailhead to Camp 2 3,000
Camp to Summit 5-8 2,235
Summit to Camp 2
Camp to Trailhead 1

EQUIPMENT

Standard glacier equipment.

NOTES

  • Conditions above the bergschrund have deteriorated in recent years to the point that the “Hogsback/Pearly Gates” route is significantly less viable.

PEARLY GATES

During the shoulder season, late fall through early winter, after a cooling period, first winter storms, and a few freeze-thaw cycles, but before South Side chutes get buried by new nowfall, the Pearly Gates variation can offer a pitch of an exciting mixture of alpine and water ice and thin ice over rock up to AI/WI3. Expect the climb overall to be much more strenuous than the standard summer route.

ASCENT ROUTE

INTERMEDIATE ICE CLIMB, AI/WI2-3, SEASON: NOV-DEC

Follow the South Side/Palmer Glacier route to the end of the Hogsback. Expect icy conditions near the Hogsback at this time of the year, and pay attention to the fumaroles (climbers have fallen in). Cross the bergshrund, being wary of its edges that will be thinly covered by fresh new snow and hidden from view. Keep a wide berth around the cracks while crossing the bergschrund. Depending on conditions, it may be good to protect this section.

Continue northeast, very slightly right of the direction that Hogsback is pointing to into a gully system known as the Pearly Gates. Conditions in the chute are hard consolidated snow and ice. Inside the chute, there are two gullies, the right typically being slightly harder. Depending on the season, there may be a few steps with a mixture of plastic alpine ice, brittle water ice, thin ice barely covering rock, and short runout sections, for about one pitch in the shade. After this, top out on sunny moderate slopes that lead directly to the summit.

DESCENT ROUTE

To get from the summit to the standard and preferred Old Chute descent route, down-climb a short exposed ridge section known as the catwalk. The old chute is too difficult to plunge step; expect about 600 feet of down-climbing and front-pointing.

TRIP PROFILE

SEGMENT TIME (HOURS) ELEVATION GAIN (FEET)
Seattle to Trailhead 4-5
Trailhead to Summit 8-10 5,300
Summit to Trailhead 4-5

EQUIPMENT

Standard glacier travel gear, ice screws (mostly 10-13cm), two ice tools.

Devil's Kitchen Headwall

Ascent Route

intermediate ice climb, Season: Dec-Feb

Follow Palmer Glacier, along east edge (right side) to avoid interfering with ski trails (as directed by sign at climbers’ trailhead), to Triangular Moraine above cat track (5° bearing from Silcox hut). Climb above Triangular Moraine (8,500 ft) on most gentle ground to east side of Crater Rock (slope opposite Steel Cliff). Follow round Crater Rock, above sulfur-fuming Devil’s Kitchen (10,400 ft), to its north side to find wind carved snow formation called the Hogsback.  Before reaching the Hogsback traverse up and climber's right into an obvious funnel leading to steep snow then snow and ice with short steep steps.  Use pickets and ice screws to protect a few pitches until reaching the summit ridge.  Tag the summit.

Trip Profile

SEGMENT TIME (HOURS) ELEVATION GAIN (FEET)
Seattle to Trailhead 4-5
Trailhead to Camp 2 3,000
Camp to Summit 5-8 2,235
Summit to Camp 2
Camp to Trailhead 1

Equipment

Standard glacier travel gear, pickets, ice screws, 2nd tool.

WY'EAST

ASCENT ROUTE

GRADE II, AI2, INTERMEDIATE ICE CLIMB, SEASON: DEC-JUN

Follow the Palmer Glacier route from Timberline Lodge to the Silcox Hut, then veer right and rope up to cross the White River Glacier. There are several options to cross the glacier, preferably starting from  7,100 ft, or alternatively, at 8,500 ft and higher. Once across the glacier, follow up the moraine to gain the ridge on the far end, and then move up the ridge until just before the rock outcropping. Move right over to the Eastern flank of the mountain, and traverse a 30°-40° avalanche-prone snow slopes to regain the ridge and the top of the East Crater Rim. Follow North around the rim into an exposed 55°-60° traverse of the eastern slopes, among rocky gendarmes and across steeper gullies, to a final 50°-55° snow chute that leads to the summit.

TRIP PROFILE

SEGMENT TIME (HOURS) ELEVATION GAIN (FEET)
Seattle to Trailhead 4-5
Trailhead to Summit 6-8 5,235
Summit to Trailhead 3

EQUIPMENT

Standard glacier travel gear, pickets, ice screws, 2nd tool.

STEEL CLIFFs SOUTH FACE

ASCENT ROUTE

GRADE II, AI2, INTERMEDIATE ICE CLIMB, SEASON: JAN-MAY

Follow the Palmer Glacier route from Timberline Lodge to the top of the Palmer Snowfield at 8,500 ft, then veer right and rope up to cross the White River Glacier. Once across the glacier, head towards a snow ramp. Ascend the ramp. A small rime-covered step leads to a second ramp, which begins west, then circles clockwise up and east to gain the ridge. Once at the ridge, join the Wy'East route, and follow the remainder of it to the summit.

TRIP PROFILE

SEGMENT TIME (HOURS) ELEVATION GAIN (FEET)
Seattle to Trailhead 4-5
Trailhead to Summit 6-8 5,235
Summit to Trailhead 3

EQUIPMENT

Standard glacier travel gear, pickets, ice screws, 2nd tool.

DESCENT ROUTE

Descend the South Side (Palmer Glacier) route.

notes

  • Most parties do these routes as a one-day climb from Timberline Lodge. If done as a two-day climb, it is possible to camp in snow approx 500 feet above the top of the Palmer Chair lift (9,000 ft).
  • As a one-day climb, the lodge or a car camp is recommended. To car camp, either sleep in cars in parking lot or camp at Forest Service campground (both noisy). An early start 12 am or 1 am) will avoid soft snow and rock/icefall near the summit, and crowds at the Hogsback.
  • Check with the ranger station after July for potential rock fall danger and possible closure of route.
  • Mount Hood Locator Units (MLUs) are available for rent at Mount Hood Inn in Government Camp just off SR 26 on Business Loop. Their use is recommended, but not required.
  • Recommended as a mid-week to avoid the large crowds usually encountered on weekends.
  • Guidebook: Mt Hood Climber's Guide by Bill Mullee (Sharp End Publishing 2014).
  • Guidebook: Best Climbs Cascade Volcanoes by Jeff Smoot (Falcon Guides 2012).
  • Suitable Activities: Climbing
  • Climbing Category: Basic Alpine
  • Seasons: May, June
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Basic Glacier Climb, Strenuous 1, Technical 2
  • Length: 8.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 5,235 ft
  • 11,235 ft
  • Land Manager: Mount Hood National Forest
    Richard L Kohnstamm Wilderness, Zigzag Ranger District (MHNF)
  • Parking Permit Required: None
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
Map
  • Green Trails Mount Hood Climbing No. 462S
  • USGS Mt Hood South, OR
Activities

Upcoming Activities

Intermediate Alpine Climb - Mount Hood/South Side

Climbing Trip
Devil's Kitchen Headwall
Difficulty: Intermediate Ice Climb
Sat, Mar 13, 2021 - Sun, Mar 14, 2021
Prerequisites, Leader's Permission Required
0 participants
Registration closed Mar 12
Olympia Branch

Basic Glacier Climb - Mount Hood/South Side

Climbing Trip
Englund SIG Climb with the spot open for a member of SIG w/o a climb
Difficulty: Basic Glacier Climb, Strenuous 1, Technical 2
Fri, May 28, 2021 - Sat, May 29, 2021
Prerequisites, Leader's Permission Required
6 participants 1 leader
Registration opens Apr 29
Seattle Branch
Trip Reports
Titles

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/Palmer Glacier
  • Mount Hood/South Side (Palmer Glacier)
  • Mount Hood/Devil's Kitchen Headwall
  • Mount Hood/Wy'East
  • Mount Hood/Steel Cliffs
  • Mount Hood/Steel Cliff Gullies
  • Mount Hood/Steel Cliffs South Face
  • Mount Hood/Steel Cliffs West Face
  • Mount Hood/Pearly Gates
  • Mount Hood/West Crater Rim
  • Mount Hood/East Crater Wall
  • Mount Hood/Flying Buttress
Resources

There are no resources for this route/place. Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.