December 15, 2005
I was in training for a rescue group known as the Reach and Treat (RAT) team, put together by American Medical Response, the ambulance company the covers the south and west sides of Mount Hood. For our final class, we were to attempt a summit of Hood. Our plan was to leave the Timberline Parking Lot at noon, Climb to 9700' and camp at Triangle Moraine, and then make a summit bid around 4am.
Wh rode the Magic Mile lift up and began our climb from there. There were 11 of us total. Some on snowshoes (unneccesary as it turned out), one on telemark skis, one hauling a snowboard, and the rest of us on foot. Shortly after leaving the top of the lift, the person hauling the snowboard, by way of towing it with a piece of webbing, lost it. He ditched his pack, and began to run off after it. The board managed to make it all the way back down. to the lodge. After running down after it, he reboarded the lift and managed to join back up with me. I had already waved the rest of the group on. We managed to catch up with the tail of our group. Due to some of us being out of shape, as well as other delays in getting started and chasing snowboards, we were running late on our schedule. Keep in mind we were also hauling camping stuff and all our rescue gear. By the time we reached the top of the palmer lift, it was getting dark, and one of our members was feeling nauseated. We pushed on a little bit, but decided to camp at the top of the palmer and start an hour earlier for the summit. After some food and camp set up, we went to sleep.
I awoke around 2:30 am to a beautifully moonlit night. It was so bright, other climbing parties were ascending without headlamps. It seemed almost like dawn, aside from the actuall time. Due to another member of our group spending her night vommiting, our group leader decided to forgo the summit, and instead just hike to the hogsback and do some rescue scenarios. In turn, our party went back to sleep.
Getting up at 7am, we began hiking up towards the hogsback. On our way up, we met one of our instructor assistants. He got off work at 11pm, solo climbed to the summit, and was on his way down to meet us. A few of us were pretty bummed out that we were not even going to attempt the summit. Our instructor told us if we could keep up with his assistant, and the assistant was ok with it, we could make a try for the summit. The weather was clear, and there were only light winds (2-3mph) blowing.
We started up after the assistant. after an hour, there were only two of us keeping up. We were instructed that we had to turn around at noon, no matter how close to the summit we were. At 11:45, we reached the bottom of the hogsback. We started up it. This was my first mountain climb where I encountered such steep snow. By noon, I was 100 yards or so from the pearly gates. The assistant told me the mountain wasn't going anywhere, and he would bring me up whenever I wanted to go.
That being said, we turned around and descended, meeting up with the rest of our group at triangle moraine. after practicing some scenarios, we decended to camp, packed up, and began the long slog back down to the lodge. It was dusk when we left for the lodge. The two on skis and boards took off to wait for us in the bar. After the slog down, we had a beer and nachos in the bar, and then headed home.
I can't wait to make another attempt on the mountain, knowing that if we would have left at 3 or 4am like planned, I would have stood on top of Hood that day.