Skiing Mt Hood

“Because it’s there.”

-George Mallory

1/31/2017

Last weekend I traveled to Portland to meet up with some old friends from high school back in Minnesota. We planned to rally at our buddy Trent’s family ski vacation spot in Government Camp, Oregon for a weekend of good eating and skiing. While planning the trip Trent sent me the location of the home and some nearby ski touring options. When I saw that the trailhead for the standard winter route up Mt Hood started at the Timberline Ski Area’s parking lot, which was just up the road, and that from the summit one could ski all the way back to Government Camp for around 7,300 total vertical feet, I was in!

I brought my touring and climbing gear along despite the plan being for in bounds skiing with the guys. After we all got in rather late Thursday night, and the typical first night of drinking and catching up commenced, I fell asleep around 3:00 am thinking, “this is when most people making summit attempts wake up to start hiking!” as I drifted off to sleep. I was tired from life and travel and did not set an alarm, letting myself get up whenever my body was ready to. I did sleep until around 7:30 am and slowly made some coffee and packed gear. My friend Majid heard me moving around and came downstairs ready to try ski touring for his first time in years. “Well, maybe we won’t be going for the summit,” I thought as I helped Majid get into some borrowed (heavy!) Alpine Trekkers. I was pretty pumped just to be outside under such a beautiful mountain with a great old friend, summit concerns were quickly pushed aside. What a gorgeous day!

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Majid stoked to be out ski touring on such a beautiful day!
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The South aspect of Mt Hood
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Parking in the Timberline Ski lot, skinning is permitted just outside the boundary line.
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Mt Hood – seen here from this South flank, the Palmer chairlift and Palmer glacier in the foreground
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Timberline’s winter route to the top of the Palmer Chair. Palmer chair is a summer only chair lift that offers the highest access from Timberline up towards Mt Hood.

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The South Approach to Mt Hood, the Hogsback is the ridge travelling up towards the traverse around to the Pearly Gates.
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A lift mechanic working on the Palmer Chair at Timberline. The Palmer Chair only spins during the summer months when the upper mountain is more mild and manageable. Ski racers and terrain park athletes show up for training on the sunny glacier.
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Mount Jefferson is a striking peak visible south of Mt Hood, at 10,497 feet it is the 2nd highest mountain in Oregon.
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Majid grinding up the Palmer Chair lift line with Mt Hood Ski Bowl in the distance next to Goverment Camp.
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Devil’s Kitchen with the Pearly Gates above
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Majid climbed nearly 2000 feet to the top of Palmer Chair before ripping skins and skiing back down.
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As Majid descended I picked up the pace, uncertain if I had enough time to still make a summit push…

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Gorgeous ice that seemed fairly stable despite the sunny day and warm temperatures.

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A few good looking ski tracks from earlier in the day kept me moving towards the summit

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Looking up the Hogsback, a climber is visible on the right heading up into the Pearly Gates

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This is a photo looking across the short traverse towards the Pearly Gates. Not much melting or falling on the day but large overhanging ice loom above climbers here.
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A glance looking back down the Pearly Gates, seen below are two climbers belaying through
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…and looking up through the crux on to the summit!
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#pearlygatesselfie
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I ran into some nice folks from Corvallis near the summit that snapped my photo for me! Thank you!
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Inversion layer of clouds
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Mt Rainier on the left and Mt Adams on the right, looking north from the summit
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Mt St Helens with the flat top
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Mt St Helen’s, Rainier and Adams on the right
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Blurry summit selfie to prove I made it…
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Steep down climbing the Pearly Gates

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Just below the Pearly Gates I kicked out a little platform and transitioned from crampons to skis.

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My tracks up top on the right, looking for soft snow that wasn’t too warm
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Rapidly back down to the Palmer Chair
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Here’s the last picture of the day from the descent. I had the pleasure of skiing around 7300 feet from the summit of Mt Hood all the way down to Government Camp!

A few days after returning from the Portland trip I noticed on the Snowbrains Ski Blog an article about skiing Mt Hood. Consequently there was a pilot flying around the mountain on the day and he did happen to take some beautiful photos of the mountain (including all of the ski tracks!)

Snowbrains Article – Pictures of My Tracks Down Mt Hood

A beautiful day and weekend in Oregon! Thanks to Trent (for having us up!) and to Majid, Jesse, Timmy and Eli for a great weekend!

 

3 Comments

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  1. What a fantastic day, been a poor snow winter in the U.K. And Europe so far, so very jealous!

    Like

  2. Nice photos! I’m puzzled by the Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier one..it says Rainier is..on the right? From mt. hood? On a map it looks as if it should be opposite.

    Like

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