1168 kilometers, 2 states, 1 mountain, 35 hours and 42 minutes of epicness.
The objective was simple enough. Drive from Vancouver, BC to Government Camp, Oregon and summit Mount Hood via the Hogsback/ Southside route, and drive home. With our lack of time away this trip was all business for my friend Tristan and I. We only had 2 days available to tackle this giant.
The drive down
Wednesday July 11 7:42am
Pick up Tristan from the the train station in Richmond BC.
Wednesday July 11 7:53am
Realize we need a bigger bag for Tristan’s gear and drive to my house to swap his backpack for a larger one.
Ok well at least now we have the right gear. The adventure begins.
We made it through the border in relatively quick time and into America. Getting through Seattle just after the morning rush meant at least we weren’t sitting in complete gridlock, what we didn’t realize is that morning rush hour traffic seems to last a lot longer in Seattle then it does in Vancouver. Ugh.
A quick stop in Kelso, Washington for lunch, and fuel and we were on the go further south. Thanks 5 guys burger.
Into Oregon now. We stopped in a few mountaineering shops just outside of downtown Portland in search of a pair of mountaineering boots for Tristan to rent. The rental shop back home was out of stock. This was also our opportunity to get any last minute beta on the climb, as we we’re now just outside of the regular guide season and re The Mountain Shop in Portland was able to hook us up with both. Props.
Arrival and departure
Wednesday July 11 5:50pm
We pulled in to the hiker parking lot at Mount Hood. Stretch the legs. Finally we have made it… To the beginning. A chance to really see what lies ahead for us, and it’s big.
We began pulling out are gear, getting ourselves in order, sign in at the hiker check-in and get our permits etc.
Wednesday July 11 7:02pm
A final bag check and quick photo opp and we were off.
Camp…if only for a little while
It was a hot slog up from the parking even at 7pm. The sun was still high enough to scorch us a bit.
We hiked up to just about the top of the ski area, which was still active. A very unique experience. As we were hiking up there was lots of people skiing and snowboarding, in the middle of July. We set up camp just as the sun was going down and quickly got in a meal before crashing out for a few hours. It was now about 1030pm.
Thursday July 12 1:15am
We awoke to the sound of climbers moving past our tent. They had likely started out around midnight or shortly after from the parking lot, which is a common timeline for Hood.
This allows people to get up past the Bergshrund and up to the summit and back down before the sun starts baking the snow and creating a slushy and potentially dangerous descent.
With our bags packed and ready from the night before we were good to go. A quick granola bar and headlamps on we began our ascent.
There seemed to be a group of 4 above us (the ones that passed our tent) and another group of 2 on their way just below us. The snow was great. Crunchy. The crampons dug in beautifully. The weather was perfect. Cool, but not quite cold. We made fast pace up towards the right side of Crater Rock. With Devil’s kitchen to our right and the smell of the toxic fumaroles we quickly continued upward to a shelf looking up the hogsback towards the pearly gates. Daylight was coming in now. Maybe 445-5am.
We met the group of 2, cousins from Beaverton that were looking to summit as well. We chatted a bit about route options from where we were at. Tristan and I opted for the Pearly gates route to the top. The cousins chose the Old Chutes. We went up first, and with it being so late in the season and the Berg being so exposed, the cousins elected to let us get up and past the Bergshrund before the began making their way up.
Right gate a no go
Me started to make our way up towards the Bergshrund, which was very open and exposed. Carefully skirting around the right side of it we made it to the bottom section of the pearly gates. Conditions were not “ideal”. Alot of melt had happened already and this made for closer to ice climbing than what we cared to do. We got about half way up the right side of the pearly gates when we got to a section of ice with flow running underneath it. This was not going to be climbable. We retreated down and examined the left side. It seemed doable. We traversed across to the left side and began climbing up.
We had one final push up the gate and then up and over the lip to the summit!
Thursday July 12 6:23am
Summit of Mount Hood! 3429m/11249ft.
That’s the highest I’ve ever climbed.
After a few photos and taking a bit of time to soak it all in, we were on the move again. For we were only half down our adventure and still had to get back down the mountain and make it back to Vancouver by days end.
We made our way back down the pearly gates slowly around the Bergshrund and back to our base camp to pack up.
At this point we were riding on fumes. We had been up since 115am and had only had less than 3 hours sleep, combined with the climbing of Mount Hood, exhaustion was beginning to manifest.
We stopped in Timberline Lodge and grabbed a few things before heading out. I snagged a cold Mountain Dew from the pop machine. I confess that I am not a pop drinker but that Mountain Dew might have been the single best drink I have ever had in my life. As we packed up the final bits into the car, the parking lot began to fill up with snowboarders and skiers. We we’re soon over taken by the snowboarding folks getting ready for perhaps some kind of amateur competition or something. Cars from every state were there. Tristan made a joke about how we are all the same. Coming from all over place to enjoy the sport/recreation that drives us, whatever that may be. We departed the parking, left the mountain, and headed north.
In the end caffeine and burritos, and taking turns driving got us back to Canada.
Thursday July 12 8:05pm
We crossed the border, made our way to Fuggles and Warlock for the Most Earned Beers we’ve had.
A day and a half. That’s what it took. An amazing trip with an amazing friend. Don’t let time restraints stop you from tackling your dreams. Sometimes you just got to push trips through, no matter how tight your schedule is. And well maybe have steady access to caffeine.