Tomorrow, I’ll be climbing an active volcano covered in glaciers and loose avalanche prone snow. It’s not really as crazy as it sounds, well maybe it is…
The aforementioned mountain is Mt Hood, the tallest mountain in the state of Oregon and my 44th state highpoint if all goes according to plan. Hood is only 11,249 feet tall, but it has a nasty reputation and a respectable 5,319′ elevation gain exceeded only by Denali and Rainier. Over 130 climbers have died on Mt Hood, typically due to falls from the steep icy slopes, but avalanches which are more common on steeper mountains, have claimed their share of lives as well. In addition to steep and technical slopes, there are also active steam vents and sulfurous discharges that destabilize the snow thanks to the volcano under the layers of glaciated ice. It will most likely be snowing, and due to the constant snow, there aren’t any trails. And oh yea, it will be windy and well below freezing, sounds perfect!
I wont be going alone, as I opted for an experienced private guide with no other climbers to eliminate the chance of a weak climber creating problems and potentially turning us around which is common on tough mountains. Hopefully I wont be that weak climber. We will start up the Mountain on Thursday July 7th, camp overnight and make a summit bid on the 8th. If I do not make it, I will cancel my return flight and make another attempt as mid July is the end of the climbing window on Hood as the sun heats up the slopes in the summer months, the snow begins to give way causing frequent avalanches. And I need to finish by October 29th this year to meet my 50 by 50 goal.
I’ll literally be watching my step on Hood. This type of climbing requires hyper focus as every footstep must be perfectly placed, since a blowout can be deadly. It is definitely not a casual climb, but I’ve done this type of extreme mountaineering before, and I have been training hard and feel ready. I’m stoked and really looking forward to seeing if I’m up to the challenge that Mt Hood presents.