Mt. Hood

May 18, 1997

We left at midnight. Mt. Hood from Timberline Lodge was an incredible and powerful sight. The air was crystal clear. Looking at the outlines against the sky, I knew this mountain was never an easy climb. Most in our large group, many from the Climb School, had never summited Oregon’s highest (11,245 ft.) peak. They would soon face a challenge, both mental and physical, that they would remember forever. By, 2:30 a.m., we had reached the top of the Palmer chair lift. Now the real climbing began, and we put on crampons. As the lights of the Lodge became more distant, the waning gibbous moon sank slowly into the glow of Portland to the west. By the time dawn caught us, we were at the Hogsback, a narrow ridge of snow behind Crater Rock that leads across a bergschrundt to the crater rim. There, covered with snow and rim ice and aptly called the Pearly Gates, was a chute leading to the summit. But to our astonishment the bergschrundt, a large crevasse where the glacier pulls away from the steep crater rim, was wide open and stretched far to the right and the left. We had to make a decision: Attempt to cross the bergschrundt to the far right on a shaky looking snow bridge … or go left, around a large bulge in the crater rim by a route called The Old Chute. We decided on The Old Chute. A steep traverse around the bulge and past the end of the crevasse was exciting. An unarrested fall would send a climber sliding down towards the smoking sulfur vents known as the Hot Rocks. Even steeper vertical climbing up through The Old Chute led us to the summit rim, which drops off spectacularly on the sheer north side of the mountain. We were on top at 7:30, and sat in the sun eating breakfast and taking pictures. On the descent we set a picket for back-up protection in the chute. One climber slipped on the traverse above the Hot Rocks, but was quickly held up by his rope team. Climb School pays off! Climbers were Jan & Rich Anselmo (assistant leader), Brian Hoyland, Doug Quirk, Bart Armitage, Melinda Kriegh, Erik Gomez, Julian Peñaloza, Christopher Miller, Jeremy Pond, Deb Carver and John Pegg (leader).

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