Mt Hood – Pearly Gates

  • Distance: ~9.3 miles
  • Elevation change: 5,300′ up
  • Weather: Cold, bluebird day. Summit was approximately 12 degrees, but with the sun it felt like 60
  • What did I eat: Skratch (strawberry), Skratch Bars, and pizza
  • Suffer Factor (out of 10): 6. This was an awesome day
  • Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/2252899435

Mount Hood has been on my list for a few years now. I made my first attempt 3 years ago, but had to turn around less than 700 feet above the Timberline Lodge due to an unexpected foot injury; the week before I had post holed twice while climbing Unicorn Peak, and hit the same spot on my left leg both times. I ended developing a bruise that dropped into my foot while climbing Hood.

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Hello Mr Hematoma

Our second attempt was in March 2018, where we tried to climb the Leuthold Couloir. We started from the parking lot at 12pm that day, to sustained 20mph winds with gusts up to 40. Temperatures were cold. Very very cold. We made camp at the top of the Palmer lift, and woke up the next morning to 2′ of wind deposited snow and sustained 20 mph winds, temperatures -5F with wind chill. We decided climbing was a bad idea and bailed.

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March 2018 – It was really really really cold

This past weekend wasn’t supposed to be a Hood weekend either. We had been planning a ski ascent of Baker or Silverstar, but the weather forecast leading up to the weekend had not been promising, and many of my typical partners were bailing to do other things. Thursday afternoon, after seeing a more favorable weather prediction for Hood, our team decided to pull the trigger and attempt Hood via the Pearly Gates or the Old Chute. At 1730 on Friday we braved rush hour traffic and made our 5 hour drive down to the Timberline Lodge, stopping along the way for Jimmy Johns and McDonalds Apple Pie.Sleeping was rather challenging. Mt Hood does not allow tents in the parking lots, and we didn’t want to set up camp outside the area, so we had one person sleep in the back, and the remaining two sleep in the front two seats. It was…uncomfortable. Waking up every 45 minutes to adjust myself was not pleasant. But we managed about 3 hours of intermittent sleep before our 0300 wake up rang. We booted up, jammed some food in our mouths, and at 0427 we started up the mountain.Touring up ski resorts is a rather strange experience. To the right of us was a CAT Track, to the left of us was ungroomed terrain. Further to our left we could see the lift towers and the groomers happily chugging up hill, laying down fresh corduroy. As we made our way up towards the top of the Palmer lift we could make out the lights of all those that started earlier that night. We reached the top of the lift at approximately 0630From the top of the Palmer lift we continued to plod our way up the mountain towards the Hogsback. The snow was pretty firm in places, requiring a little edge action to get good purchase, but for the most part the skin track was put down quite well. We got our first whiff of the fumaroles as we skinned through 9500 feet; the smell of rotten eggs was pretty distinct.At roughly 0830 we were able to drop skis at the Hogsback. We though about climbing up with our skis, but we were not sure about skiing down. A number of other skiers were skiing down from the Old Chute and the Pearly Gates, but we were definitely not feeling it. We booted up, following a number of other people, including a team roped up for the Pearly Gates. We had soloed the route; while it was fairly steep, the footing was quite good. The thoughts of getting flossed off our feet was not pleasant, so we waited for the roped team to get around the corner of the Gates before we shot past them as quickly as possible. We were all on the summit at approximately 1040.

Most of this group soloed the Leuthold Couloir

From here the views were amazing. We could make out Rainier, Adams, and St Helens to the north, and Jefferson and Three Sisters from the south. We didn’t want to hang out for too long though; there was a large group of people at the top, who had just finished soloing the Leuthold Couloir, and the roped up team was getting ready to head back down as well. We ate some food, drank a bit of water, and did a combination of side hilling and plunge stepping back to our skis. It took us approximately 30-45 minutes to get back down to our skis…and then we ripped skins and cruised back down.

Cruising down Groomers

The top portion of the mountain felt like heavy powder, but turning was quite easy. Once we got below Crater Rock, the terrain basically became a mine field of ice hidden under a thin layer of snow. This section was rather nerve wracking. We breathed a sigh of relief when we arrived at the top of the Palmer lift, and were greeted by the groomed lanes of the resort. Back at our cars at 1240!

Meet parents and daughter!

Copying from Diana’s trip report…4:27 Start
5:34 7485’
6:25 Top of Palmer (10 minute rest)
8:30 Ski drop at Hogsback (30 minute transition to crampons)
10:40 Summit
11:00 Leave summit
11:30 Arrive skis at Hogsback (20 minute transition to skis)
12:40 Timberline Lodge

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