OverviewThis route is a variation on the South Side Hogsback route that ascends through the Pearly Gates. In the last two years, the Hogsback has been moving further left. As of Winter 2007, this is currently the "standard" route as the Hogsback is too far left for an easy traverse and the route through the Pearly Gates appears to be much steeper than normal and may be ice/rock.
The route is about the same difficulty level as the Hogsback/Pearly Gates route but longer with a bit more exposure. It averages around 40-45 degrees, maybe give or take 5 degrees. A fall on the traverse could possibly end up with you in a fumarole. The traverse over to the true summit is also an exposed knife edge in one spot. Don't underestimate this route as everyone seems to think of Hood as a walk-up (although most years there are accidents and/or deaths).
Getting ThereTake Highway 26 east from Portland about 50 miles to Government Camp, OR. Just on the east side of town, turn left (north) at the sign for Timberline Lodge. Follow this road about 5 miles as it winds up the south side of the mountain to the lodge/ski area. Park in the lot.
Route DescriptionFollow the South Side Hogsback route up to the Hogsback. (IdahoSummits excellent route page shows the way up the Palmer and around Crater Rock on the right (east).
From the Hogsback, you can do one of two things. Either ascend to the bergschrund but head left before you reach it. The route traverses left and up below the rock formations (beware of falling rock and ice, a helmet is a MUST) to the obvious open chute on your right (also where the West Crater Rim Route joins to the summit). The angle of the traverse runs from about 35-40 degrees until just before you turn right into the chute. It steepens just before you climb the chute. The Chute itself is about 40 degrees easing off near the top. The other option, and reportedly safer, is to descend into the Hot Rocks area from the Hogsback instead of climbing and traversing under the cliffs, possibly getting pelted by falling ice/rock. You would simply traverse left and down from the Hogsback until below the Chute and then ascend to the ridge. This would definitely be the preferred late season route. (See this discussion for more info and a diagram of both options.
Once you top out in the Chute, turn right and you are on the ridge to the summit. It is a knife edge in spots, the most exposed coming right after you hit the ridge and climb over a rock. Beware of wind gusts from either direction. A fall here would most likely be fatal. Once over that hump of rock, it broadens and eases off to open slopes to the summit.
Descend the same route (unless the Pearly Gates route is in good shape and is easier). Be aware that in bad weather, once you are back on the south side of Crater Rock, you do not want to follow the "fall line" (the path a ball would roll). This would take you over Mississippi Head into Zig Zag Canyon (cliffs). Instead, follow the magnetic south bearing which should take you back to the ski area and Timberline Lodge.