Alaska Road Trip – Day 5 – Mount Hood

Post by blogger | May 21, 2010      

Intro by Lou, story in captions by Caleb:

Some mountains are like a comfy pair of worn-in shoes. They seem to slip around you in a warm hug, almost as if the very fabric of the peak has been molded for your body the way a good pair of insoles molds to your feet.

In past years, Mount Hood has been one such comfy place for me. I’ve hit the rime caked volcano a number of times in consistently good weather, and made sure to ensconce myself in the Timberline Lodge after and even before each ascent our tour. Indeed, my wife and I even spent our honeymoon there. We skied corn in t-shirts, hung out at the swimming pool like Greek shipping magnates on the Med, and scourged the Cascade Dining Room desert cart like barbarians sacking Rome.


Lou didn't think it was all that bad.

For the WildSnow road crew, such coddling was not to be. We headed up from Shasta with our eyes glued to our computer screens, watching a huge cyclonic rotate in off the Pacific. It appeared we could get a window in the morning, before the first arm of the storm slapped Hood like a major league batter swatting practice shots. Yep, the window opened for a moment, then slammed shut. Good Denali practice? You bet. Fun? Yes. A summit? Dang.


The views of Mt. Jefferson from the Timberline Lodge made us wonder if we should have headed there instead.


Hmm..Empty lot, guess the locals know better. Let's hope we're not doing something stupid -- proceed with caution.


The Palmer lift is supposed to open at 8am, but poor weather and visibility delayed things. Luckily a patroller let us sneak on at 9:30am since we were just climbing. Yeah, we were cheating by riding the lifts, but our time is limited due to a little thing coming up called the Alcan Highway.


The weather at the top of the lift was, well, terrible. Total white out. This was a teaching moment. Louie, you navigate.


Louie lead us on a steady course, old school style, map and compass. Mountaineering 101: Don't climb into deteriorating weather. So we figured a bit of practice with compass and GPS would be ok, but we'd absolutely not push the route. Sure, it's not that far to the summit of Hood if the weather is good and you're fit, but it's amazing how much longer a route can feel when you're navigating by compass inside the 'egg,' thinking you could go off route into a volcanic hole or perhaps a crevasse.


Jordan thought there was going to be a party up top.


One of the few breaks between storm pulses offered phenomenal views.


Me, hard at work.


Louie looking toward the sky hoping that it would hold for just another hour.


Unfortunately, it didn't hold for more than a couple of minutes. Soon we found ourselves in the eerie light of a Pacific storm.


So we dug a snow wall just below the Hogsback and waited, and waited, and waited for just a small break in the clouds.


Finally we capitulated and ripped skins before visibility was too poor to see our ski tips.


Louie did great with the compass, but how about with the GPS?


Okay, he did great with the GPS as well, but what about if we up the intensity of the storm? Say 40mph winds, a dash of side ways falling ice and snow, a generous dose of riming -- and how about an occasional vertigo moment.


You pass Louie! We made it down without a hitch, except being soaked from head to toe.


The gear down was a polar opposite of the gear up from a conditions standpoint.


The reward.


Apparently, this storm did a little damage at lower elevations as well. This tree blocked traffic and shut down power in Welches, OR for most of the night.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


17 Responses to “Alaska Road Trip – Day 5 – Mount Hood”

  1. Annah May 21st, 2010 11:12 am

    Looks like you guys had fun despite the weather. What was the snow like on the way down?

    Thanks for blogging… I follow you daily!

  2. Anton May 21st, 2010 11:28 am

    I had a go at Hood two weeks ago during a similar storm. We waited for three days for a weather window with no luck. On the third day, we pushed through the storm at 1am and the weather opened up on the hogsback for just long enough to summit!

    Great navigating practice, it looks like everyone is ready for Denali weather. (I also follow daily).

  3. Jordan May 21st, 2010 12:26 pm

    Hey Annah,
    I think the snow would best be described as invisible. It felt good I guess.

  4. Rob Wales May 21st, 2010 12:27 pm

    Looks like Louie has a pair of Sidestashes…any comments as to this ski vs. the Coomback which I chose instead(have loved the Coomback and the Coomba before)? I almost went for the Sidestash but wasn’t sure I’d like the metal layer and heavier weight. Thanks- love the site and wish you well on your adventure!

  5. Rob Wales May 21st, 2010 12:33 pm

    Never mind…looks like they are Waybacks.

  6. Kyle May 21st, 2010 12:45 pm

    Are you guys gonna hit hit up Stewart BC / Hyder AK on the way up. Usually good amounts of snow there well into july.

  7. JIm May 21st, 2010 2:38 pm

    Typical Oregon weather. Ugh! Keep up the great posts. Really fun following along. Hope you get nice weather in AK.

  8. Joe May 21st, 2010 2:56 pm

    Looking good guys, now if only you can get all that didn’t-get-the-summit stuff over with by the time Colby, Ty and I show up 😆

    Hope you find some better weather asap!

  9. doug May 21st, 2010 8:02 pm

    great pix and text, gonna follow you all the way, go for it!

  10. Tom May 21st, 2010 11:34 pm

    Loving the pics.

  11. Steve May 22nd, 2010 12:13 am

    What chest pack are you using to carry your SLR camera?

  12. Caleb May 22nd, 2010 9:32 am


    The bag is a Tamrac Velocity 5x, stripped down as much as possible. It’s not the greatest solution for carrying a DSLR in a mountain environment, but it works fairly well given that I usually carry 1 or 2 extra lenses.

  13. joseph szasz May 22nd, 2010 11:33 am

    awesone lou!! i feel the same way about mt hood. first summiti climbed with rented gear. classic navigation practice. how many people each year walk or ski of mississippi head? and i dont think ive ever seen the lot that empty!

  14. Jake May 22nd, 2010 1:31 pm

    As an Oregon native (first 18 years) and a Colorado transplant (past 19 years) Mt. Hood’s modest 11,000+ summit humbles me every time I go up there. As a child I watched the helicopters transport frozen high school kids from Timberline to the university hostpital above my house. In a strange way the experience made me want to become an mountaineer. It looks like you guys passed the test. Many people have under estimated Mt. Hood. Nice work.

  15. Brittany May 22nd, 2010 1:57 pm

    Love it! Great report guys, and way to get after it, safely, despite the poor weather!

  16. Dale Persing May 23rd, 2010 4:45 am

    Some stellar pics despite, or maybe because of, that wx. Nice work.


  17. Air Force One May 25th, 2010 2:42 am

    It is a wonderful experience. I am really enjoy it. The nature scenery is very beautiful.

  Your Comments

  Recent Posts

Facebook Twitter Email Instagram Youtube

WildSnow Twitter Feed


  • Blogroll & Links

  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

    All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

    We include "affiliate sales" links with most of our blog posts. This means we receive a percentage of a sale if you click over from our site (at no cost to you). None of our affiliate commission links are direct relationships with specific gear companies or shopping carts, instead we remain removed by using a third party who manages all our affiliate sales and relationships. We also sell display "banner" advertising, in this case our relationships are closer to the companies who advertise, but our display advertising income is carefully separated financially and editorially from our blog content, over which we always maintain 100% editorial control -- we make this clear during every advertising deal we work out. Please also notice we do the occasional "sponsored" post, these are under similar financial arrangements as our banner advertising, only the banner or other type of reference to a company are included in the blog post, simply to show they provided financial support to and provide them with advertising in return. Unlike most other "sponsored content" you find on the internet, our sponsored posts are entirely under our editorial control and created by WildSnow specific writers.See our full disclosures here.

    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

    Switch To Mobile Version