Altitude Notes: Entry Seven

Mt Hood  11,239 Feet Above Sea Level
1 May 2022

The Approach

Located about an hour drive from Portland, Oregon this hike/climb was to be in honor of the Rangers from 2/75th Ranger Regiment that paid the ultimate price for our freedom during Operation Urgent Fury.

The route takes you from the parking lot at Timberline Lodge, up the slopes on the south side of the mountain to the summit. Unfortunately, due to heavy snowfall the days preceding the attempt conditions were unstable above the Devil’s Kitchen where our day ended before turning back.

As they say the summit is optional, making it home is mandatory.


bigtopo L1200xThe Route

Distance:    6.4 Miles Round Trip
Elevation Gain:    5,249 Feet


The Hike:

4-28-2022 through 4-30-2022
I flew in to Portland, Oregon after work and made the drive to Government Camp, just below Timberline Lodge, hoping we would be able to start the climb the following night. As luck would have it the area had been hit with a storm for the preceding few days and we were put on a weather hold. I had joined a group of climbers with Veterans Expeditions, a non-profit started by a buddy from my Ranger Battalion days, Nick Watson. He wasn’t joining the trip, but his Pacific Northwest leaders for the climb were more than up for the task.

The following day I drove up to Timberline lodge to check out the area where we would be starting the climb. Snow had definitely pounded the area and the skiing was looking amazing, but not great for a summit attempt. I spent the next day and a half catching up on some reading and writing before it was time to meet up with some of my fellow climbers for skills practice. We met up at the overflow lot at Timberline Lodge and went over self arrest and movement technique with crampons. Basic stuff, but well worth the time. We planned to meet later in the night to start the climb.

Literally meeting at zero dark thirty, we linked up at 12:30 AM, geared up and moved out. The sky had opened up after the storm had passed and we moved under a star filled sky. Light winds were kicking spindrift as we made the slow ascent with the glow of our headlamps leading the way. We continued our relentless forward progression until reaching the Silcox Hut, where we took a break for fuel and hydration before pressing onward.

As we neared the slope leading to Crater Rock there was evidence the sun would soon be making an appearance, as the blue hour light began to shine on the eastern horizon. We were among the first people to make it to the Devil’s Kitchen, just below the summit. Here we were met with the nausea inducing stench of sulfur released from the fumarole the base of the famous Hogsback.

It was here that evidence of avalanche activity was apparent. A Guide in the group ahead of us dug a pit to check snow conditions on the slope leading to the Hogsback. We met up with him as he was turning back. He found the snow to be unconsolidated and unstable. It was our group’s consensus to turn back rather than risk meeting a disastrous end on an unstable slope.

Very humbling experience. I hope to make it back in the next year or two and try again. I met a great group of people on this trip and highly recommend Veterans Expeditions.

Thank you Nate and Nelson for a great experience and for your wisdom in turning back, a great call considering the conditions.