Mt Hood Ascent on a Perfect Day
The trip to Mt Hood was really fun but I was extremely tired. The Timberland lodge was built in 1937 by then president Roosevelt. We had diner at this lodge with a view of the mountain. I only slept 6 hours on Friday night and on Saturday night we only slept 1 hour inside the rental vehicle. It was very uncomfortable sleeping in the vehicle with two other guys. The rental car was an SUV and we were able to put the two back seats down. I slept for 1 hour in the front passenger seat and Dan and Ezra slept in the back. George slept in his sleeping back out on the parking lot. George almost got killed three different times by cars trying to park where he was sleeping but that is whole different story. Don’t sleep on the parking lot and try to stay at the Timberland lodge at least one night before your hike.
We woke up at 12 midnight and got ready for the hike/climb. We were on the trail just after 1am. The beginning of the trip was miserable. Not only was I tired from lack of sleep but I bent down to pick up my helmet and I accidentally stepped on my ice ax and it flipped up and the sharp edge hit me on the nose and I started bleeding. I was over dressed with a heavy down jacket, a windbreaker, a fleece sweater, and a t-shirt (as a base layer). I started sweating profusely because the weather at that time of the morning was unnaturally warm. On our first rest stop I took off my gloves and my helmet and there was sweat drenching down my forehead. I also noticed that my base layer was completely soaked with sweat. I eventually took one layer off. Our team of four guys got separated and by about the middle of the trip Ezra and I were ahead of Dan and Gorge. We stopped and put on the crampons and I began to get really cold and started shivering, this was around 4 am. I also did not feel very good from the lack of sleep and my body was in shock from the physical activity at that time of the night. As soon as the crampons were securely on, I started to hike again because being still made me cold. At this point I felt my down jacket wet from all the sweating at the beginning of the hike. I was also feeling a little nausea but it went away once I started hiking.
As soon as we got going I realized that it was going to take a little while to get used to walking with crampons. The crampons are big and add about an inch in length and height to the hiking boots, which makes it difficult to walk normal. The first guy we encountered decided to "pull the plug" he told us he decided to give up after looking at the next hill. He said "I would be a liability to my team so I am going down" He appeared to be around sixty years old.
We powered on as we continued to hike in the darkness. The night sky was clear and beautiful. We stopped and took a few pictures and we could see Portland in the distance. We caught up and passed a few groups of hikers as the climb started to get steeper. A lot of the groups that were hiking to the summit were paid expeditions. These groups were made up of about 10 people each and all team members were roped together. Ezra and I arrived just below the Hogsback right as the sun started to rise which prevented us from seeing the sunrise. At this point we were at least an hour and a half from the summit. We decided hike on slowly and wait for Dan and George at the beginning of the Hogsback. After waiting for a bout 10 minutes we decided to keep going as it was getting cold and windy. The pungent smell of the sulfur started to get stronger (Mt Hood is a volcano and there are some pits were you can actually see the hot fumes of sulfur rising and the snow is melted all the way around).
After the hogsback is where the actual steep climbing begins and you really need to start using your crampons and your ice ax. The snow is very icy and the hill slopes at a 55+- degree angle. I would not and could not do this climb without an ice ax and crampons. This was the most fun part for me. I looked up and could see that we were close to the top, the sun was shinning and I could see it at the very edge of the mountain. Right before reaching the summit we had to cross a "knife edge" at the very crest of the mountain. We had to be very careful when crossing this part because it was only about two feet wide with precipitous drops on either side. If we tripped or made a wrong move on this part we would have fallen to our deaths.
Ezra and I reached the top together at around 5:45. We waited around the top and took some pictures but Dan and George were not in the summit and we were getting cold. We waited up at the top for about half an hour. We decided to start our decent and after we crossed back over the "knife edge" we spotted George, and Dan was close behind him. Ezra and I waited for them to reach us and we did not want to go back to the summit. However, we did want a picture of all four of us together at the top. So we turned around and hiked back up with Dan and George but the trail was getting crowded with the teams of roped hikers reaching the summit. The second time I went over the "knife edge" I stopped in the middle and looked off on both sides just to admire how deep, far, and seep the snow dropped in this part. It was kind of scary so I moved on quickly.
As soon as we took the summit picture I headed down the mountain. Ezra stayed up at the summit a little bit longer to help Dan fix his crampon, which had slipped off his boot right as he arrived at the summit. I started to hike down and I realized how steep the climb was towards the top half of the mountain. It was a lot scarier coming down than going up. The hike down felt very long and the wind picked up. I took my jacket and the crampons off when I reached half way down. The snow was very slushy and it was difficult to walk because every step I took I would sink half way up my knees. The sun also started to shine very brightly and I got a little sunburn on my face. On my way down I slid on my butt like other hikers were doing for about a half a mile and this saved a lot of time. I waited around for about an hour and Ezra arrived, followed by Dan and George thirty minutes later.
It was a great weekend. The view from the top was amazing. To the north we could see Mt St Helens, Mt Rainier, and Mt Adams. To the south we saw Mt Jefferson and the Three Sisters.