Gases Intoxicate SPer's on Hood

Gases Intoxicate SPer's on Hood

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Apr 20, 2009
Seasons Season: Spring

The Plan

1.Head from Timberline Lodge at 10 pm. The reason for this is to avoid both avalanches and icefall
2.Summit the mountain at 5 - 6 am. Good enough to reach the summit at sunrise or a little before and then quickly escape before the morning warming.
3. Be back at the car by 3 pm.

Mt. Hood

Evening Light on Mount Hood

The Story

Mt. Hood

It should be noted that there was going to be a return trip to Mt. Hood. It may still happened but due to outside issues the return trip might not be until next year. I will hope to make this attempt next Monday if I get off of work.

Mount Hood had been on my mind for months. In fact I became friends with Redwic over this very mountain. I first discussed climbing Mt. Hood a while back and received a ton of good information from this mountain. Through that great information and probably weeks in planning we set up what I think was clearly one of the best plans on attacking this mountain. Redwic had two successful summits on this peak last year and his experience really helped us out on this trip.

Mt. Hood

We were looking for another partner and my friend Gimpilator, who has summited all Washington volcanoes except Glacier Peak, including Rainier three times as well as Kilimanjaro in Tanzania was the perfect candidate. He though was a little skeptical of Hood due to the large number of accidents on the peak. But with a lot of information, he quickly began to get pumped at the idea of going for this mountain.

Mt. Hood

The news wasn't so hot at first. Avalanche danger was supposed to be relatively high. This is where Redwic's experience and research played a huge role. Without a doubt all of us were going to bail on this mountain if the weather was bad or clearly was any possible danger. The main goal is that all of us have a great time and make it back safely, with the summit being secondary. Through research by Redwic we discovered that temps on the mountain were going well below freezing on the mountain and as long as we were climbing at night we would have a very stable snow layer. On this research the trip was a go.

We headed down to Mt. Hood on Sunday afternoon and did some carb loading at the Olive Garden in Gresham, Oregon. Afterwards we got to Timberline Lodge and went to sleep from 7 pm to 9:30 pm. Before we left we had some strange guy seemingly trying to scare us off the mountain. we found him slightly suspicious and put all of our valuables in the trunk before we headed off to the mountain. With us were two GPS, two cell phones, two bivys and a sleeping bag and a rope in case of possible roped travel.

Everything was going great up through ski lift. We were right on schedule because of Gimpilator's great way of setting the pace. None of us even broke a sweat on the way up. We were not going fast and took water breaks whenever nessesary. It looked like a lock until 9800 feet when we started to hit the fumaroles right by Crater Rock. Maybe it was because of the recent snowmelt but man were they strong. It was at 10100 feet that Gimpilator started to get a little dizzy . We took a little break ironically right by someone's camp next to the fumaroles . Afterwards we continued to the Hogsback though much more slowly. It was here though that the fumaroles were really beginning to take there toll on both Adam and I. It didn't help that getting to the Hogsback this year is much steeper that in years past.

I quickly began getting a stomach ache and also began to get dizzy. This is where common sense takes over and pride must go by the waste side. It was 4:00 am which was a great time BUT there were two dizzy climbers, 700 feet of elevation gain, and the hardest section yet to go. Keep in mind this is at night and once the sun pops up danger will start getting elevated. Without a doubt it was time to turn around. We probably would have made the top but would have put ourselves in great danger coming down especially being that severely dizzy. Without any controversy it was time to head down. The mountain will be there and if it not that there are 8000 others in the Washington-Oregon area.

EastKing coming down from the Hogs Back


On the way down I was going keeping an eye on that tent but the they were up on the way back. I feared that they were dead from all the bad sulfur fumes. But they were ok. We did run into one person who made the summit and he said he was dodging a number of small icefalls but nothing large. That would not have been good with dizzy climbers.

Mt. Hood

We headed down and did a number of icy glissades as plunged stepped back to the Palmer lift. Ideally these would be good around 9 am we were not on them at that point. Still they were fun and a safe way to practice some self arrest moves. The sun rose, giving us great pictures of Jefferson and Three Sisters and made the whole experience more meaningful. We made great time getting back and were back at the car 8 am.

Mt. Hood

This was a great success in that as a group we knew that we all could trust each other have an amazing time and realize danger before it happens, It is clear that the intinerary was perfect and I would recommend it has a guide for anyone wanting to climb Mt. Hood. Keep in mind though Mt. Hood becomes much more dangerous by mid-June so I would strongly recommend doing this trip before then. We may have not gotten to the summit but we had a great time, merged together well and got down Mt. Hood very safely.


Post a Comment
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gimpilator - May 2, 2009 11:36 am - Hasn't voted

Well Done

It's always hard to write up a report having not made the summit. You did a very accurate job recounting the obstacles we faced. I'm really glad I got to know Redwic on this trip.


Redwic - May 3, 2009 9:09 am - Voted 10/10

You forgot to mention...

... that I was the only one not feeling sick. Strangely, the higher we went, the stronger I felt on this trip. But there was no way I was going to leave you guys and continue on. We were a team, and I would rather turn around with the summit virtually in sight than take a chance of somebody getting hurt. We made the right decision (to turn around), and for that I think this trip report might be helpful for other Mount Hood climbers. We'll go back and summit this mountain together, sometime. It was great meeting Gimpilator, as well, as I really like his attitude and trust his judgment.


Deltaoperator17 - May 3, 2009 9:45 am - Voted 10/10

Intelligent Mountaineering

Great job guys and making good decsions. "Da Hood" is not forgiving- All of my family lives in Sandy, Boring and Gresham and pretty much hate the mountain above the ski lifts.

All my best,


Snidely Whiplash

Snidely Whiplash - May 8, 2009 11:10 am - Hasn't voted

Is this a common problem on Hood?

You guys made the right decision. I'm just wondering....Does anyone know if this is a common problem on Hood? I remember smelling them myself, but felt no ill effects. Do the fumaroles sometimes emit something more noxious that causes problems?


Redwic - May 8, 2009 10:39 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: Is this a common problem on Hood?

I think the fumaroles were extra potent this time because of several key reasons:
1) A LOT of snowmelt during the week leading up to the trip.
2) That snowmelt then filtered into the fumaroles, causing snow-sulfur reactions... Hydrogen Sulfide (i.e. Rotten Egg Smell) and Sulfur Dioxide (i.e. Burnt Matches Smell).
3) Relatively no wind during our climb, which meant the gases just lingered in the crater once released.
4) If someone is already feeling minor effects of altitude sickness, the Hydrogen Sulfide fumes brought out the effects even more than normal. Some people are affected more than others.

These reasons are all speculation on my part, but I do recall turning around, during our descent, and seeing a haze looming in the crater/Hogsback area; it could have been the gases.


Snowslogger - May 8, 2009 7:18 pm - Hasn't voted

Better than intoxicated SPers gassing on Hood

I guess this is better than intoxicated SPers gassing on Hood!

As far as whether this is a common problem, I think it's pretty uncommon to be bad enough to turn people around, although apparently it can happen. Way back someone went into one of the fumeroles and died. Don't try that one!


Redwic - May 11, 2009 8:45 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: Better than intoxicated SPers gassing on Hood

You would be surprised. This seems to be the "dirty little secret" about Mount Hood, and not many people seem to mention the effects of the fumarole smells much. However, I have now visited Mount Hood multiple times, and each time I encountered people who felt very sick from the smells and/or who turned around because of them. It happens more often than what is mentioned on SP, which is why this TR has some good value.

Viewing: 1-7 of 7

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