Mt. Hood, West Face

May 12-13, 1979

Our small group of climbers left Eugene early Saturday afternoon planning to camp at Still Creek on the south side of Mt. Hood. We found the campground buried under more snow than usual for this time of year, so we camped near the Timberline Lodge parking lot. If you must camp on snow, why not do it near the start of the route?

We left the lodge at the unholy hour of 4:00 a. m. for the trudge up Palmer Snowfield, arriving at Illumination Saddle at 7:30. A small tent city occupied the saddle, established by some hardy souls willing to pack all afternoon for the sake of a room with a view.

With crampons sucking the warmth out of our toes, we headed across Reid Glacier and into the Hourglass. The usual debris-fall was less than expected; just a constant pinging on hardhats—no major crunches. Only two other climbers were encountered on the route, but we later found that an entire flock of early-birds, Mazama-type, had passed through in the wee hours of the morning.

We joined the three-ring summit circus at 11:00. Crowds. Snapshots. Planes buzzing the summit. Hot-dog skiers looking for some thrills. It was great, as only Mt. Hood on a perfect summer day can be. “We” consisted of Harry Austin, Jack Nitzel, Joachim Prufer, Randy Zustiak and leader Mike McClellan.


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