Situated in northern Oregon, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) west of the city of Portland, Mount Hood casts an imposing shadow over its wooded surroundings.
At 3,429 metres (11,249 feet) in elevation, the potentially active stratovolcano is the highest peak in Oregon and a popular destination for both hikers and mountaineers.
While the bottom half of the mountain (up until about 2,200 metres/7,300 feet) is generally free of snow throughout the climbing season, the upper reaches of the peak are home to 12 different glaciers and snowfields, making the use of crampons and ice axes mandatory throughout the year.
Quick Facts about Mount Hood
- Along with being the highest peak in the state, Mount Hood is the fourth highest in the Cascade Range and the twenty-eighth most prominent in the United States.
- Even though there are no established trails that lead up to the top of Mount Hood, roughly 10,000 climbers attempt to summit the peak each year.
- Along with mountaineers, many hikers head to Mount Hood each summer to walk up the Timberline Trail, which leads up to 2,200 metres (7,300 feet) in elevation and circumnavigates the entire peak.
History of Mount Hood
Mount Hood was first seen by European explorers in 1792 during a British naval expedition up the Columbia River. Lieutenant William Broughton is credited for giving it the modern name of Mount Hood. However, the peak has long held spiritual importance to the local Multnomah people and was named Wy’east, after a warrior in the tribe’s mythology.
Oliver C Yocum became the first known person to climb to the summit of Mount Hood in 1883. Yocum was on a photography expedition and carried about 22 kilograms (50 lbs) of equipment with him.
Mount Hood is classified as a potentially active, possibly dormant volcano, and has an eruptive history dating back 15,000 years. The last confirmed eruption took place in 1907.
Experience Required for Climbing Mount Hood
While there is a story of a woman reaching the summit of Mount Hood in high heels and plenty of evidence of dogs climbing to the top, Mount Hood is widely considered to be an intermediate-level climb.
The use of ropes, crampons and ice axes is required on the mountain's various glaciers and several parts of the peak are prone to avalanche, rockfalls and have deep crevasses. As a result, it is best to climb with a certified guide.
Along with the technical difficulties, climbing Mount Hood is also a physical challenge. Summit day begins before dawn and requires near-constant climbing for several consecutive hours up snow, ice and rock before arriving at the summit.
It is also important to be prepared for and learn crevasse rescue techniques prior to the ascent.
Main Routes up Mount Hood
Due to the immense size of Mount Hood, there are about 30 different routes that lead up to its summit, most of which range in difficulty from grade II to IV+. However, only six of these routes are commonly used.
The most popular one (and therefore most commonly climbed by guides) is the Southside/Hogsback route, which begins from the Timberline lodge. The route involves a scenic approach before climbers ascend up the snowy Hogsback ridge and over the bergschrund of the glacier. From here, climbers head up the snow chutes to the summit. Overall, the route is rated as grade II.
Wy'East (grade III), Steel Cliff Gullies (grade III), Cooper Spur (grade II), Sandy Glacier Headwall (grade III), Leuthold Couloir (grade II) and Reid Glacier Headwall (grade II) are the other routes most commonly taken to the summit. All require traversing crevasses and climbing over various glaciers and glacial features.