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Trip Report    

Mount Hood/South Side

Early-mid season climb via Palmer Glacier/Pearly Gates

  • Sat, May 1, 2021 — Sun, May 2, 2021
  • Mount Hood/South Side
  • Climbing
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Route has snow coverage from parking lot to summit, bergschrund is beginning to open up at 10,700' (2/3 of the way up Hogsback). Pearly Gates were quite icy, two tools required to climb safely. 

Our party of 4 left the Timberline Lodge parking lot at 1100 to begin our summit bid with the intention of camping above the lift house to make for a shorter summit push. Temps were in the mid 30s with partial cloud cover with a forecast for gusts to 30 mph and temps in the low 20s at 9,000'. 

Climbers trail was easy to follow up the ski boundary, compact snow made for easy booting to the lift house. We cut over directly behind the lift house and scouted for bivvy spots. Level ground and windbreaks are few and far between at that elevation, and we passed a choice spot behind two boulders at 8,900' to end up at a less than optimal spot about on a ridge halfway between Illumination Rock and Triangle Morraine. 

Weather started to come in as we made camp and almost took a tent that fortunately was anchored with an ice ax. Winds continued to pick up while temperatures dropped so we hastily made dinner and finished prep for the summit attempt while we could still feel our hands. Wind continued to pummel the tents all night and well into the morning, and we pushed our summit departure time back several times, from 0400 to to 0830, until finally things calmed down enough that we felt it was viable. 

We opted to start in crampons, and transitioned from neve to firn type snow quickly. Route was  straightforward and were at the Hogsback shortly. The night's rough weather had discouraged a lot of climbing traffic and the usual weekend conga line was absent. We opted for the left chute of the Pearly Gates, which was definitely a two-tool endeavor. We did encounter a bottleneck here, and based on traffic opted not to set protection. Ideally this would be a weekday climb with a line and some pickets deadmanned up top. The right chute has a shorter but steeper ice section, apparently with better holds.

Approaching the Hogsback:


Snowbridge at 10,700':


Pearly Gates, right chute:


Left Chute Entrance:



Looking down Left Chute:


After spending 30-40 minutes to get through the gates we made the summit around 1130. We briefly discussed descending via Old Chute but the catwalk portion of the ridge traverse to get there was quite exposed, and we opted to downclimb on known terrain. After some snacks and photos we began our decent, and arrived back at camp at 1430, much later than we would have liked, but happy and thankful for a summit. We then packed up and boogied out, and while my partners opted to push back to Vancouver, I grabbed a room close by and crashed before heading back to Seattle Monday AM.