To celebrate the Fourth, our anniversary, and my 30th birthday, the plan was to climb Mount Hood and Rainier with the CMC HAMS group from Denver. Linnea had to drop because of her knee, and that left a team of 6 for Hood, 5 for Rainier. I was the youngest in the group and had fun getting to know the guys while running up the mountain. On Friday night, I flew out to Seattle and met Linnea, who just got back from her big Alaska trip. In the morning, we drove to Portland, dropped Linnea off at a friend’s place for the weekend, and continued on to Hood. I would meet the team at the top of the chair lifts, since I preferred to start the climb from the parking lot since I had the extra time. It turned out to be pretty brutal hauling a big pack up the lower mountain in the sweltering heat and mushy snow.
Waiting above Palmer, I was beginning to think they might miss the last chair up at 2p but sure enough they made it up at 1:45p. From the top of the Palmer lift, we hiked up a ways to a nice flat spot sheltered behind a big bump and set up camp. We had plenty of time to relax in the sun and enjoyed watching the ever changing mountain in the clouds. My biggest disappointment was that I did not bring my skis. It was a little eerie too watching a military chopper conduct the final stages of a search for a missing climber.
The next morning, I think around 3:30a, we set up for the summit. It is a short climb and in no time we were up to the Hogsback. This is a ridge that leads to the summit, through the Pearly Gates, and it used to be the standard route up. Due to small shifting of the glacier, the Hogsback doesn’t line up all that well with the summit and makes for a more difficult route than earlier times. It also crosses a nasty bergschrund, the real crux — a big crevasse separating glacier ice from the mountain top. So, our plan was to go around up to the easier old chutes route. It was hard not to notice the stinky sulfur fumes from the mountain, a lot like Yellowstone hot-springs. In areas, you could seeing smoke venting. Up the old chutes was fun and the snow was firm. We passed a number of guided groups roped up, but we decided against ropes. At the ridge, we got our first view of Helens, Rainier, and Adams. Just a quick traverse over a little catwalk with big drops on either side, and we were at the summit — I think around 5:30a. The summit was pretty busy and somewhat small, with amazing views and not too windy. After a few quick pics, we made our way down. Back at the old chutes, we took our time down-climbing, as a fall here would be bad. Overall, it was a fun and scenic climb, short and sweet, sort of comparable to a couloir climb. I was really enjoyed the experience and was glad to have come early to tag it on before Rainier.
Below are a few pictures and video from the summit, some with captions.