In 2004, I had the pleasure of summitting Mount Hood, one of the most popular
Cascade volcanoes in North America, and the highest peak in Oregon State.
Alissa, our two boys & I drove from Wyoming, while my partner Steve flew in from Houston.
Alissa and the boys headed up to Wenatchee, Washington while Steve and I bandied about
the lush mountain region of the Columbia River valley. It was one of the best trips I've ever had.
I picked up Steve in a rented, tiny Hyundai at Portland International Airport
on July 8th, and he called a halt at the first Greek restaurant he saw.
I had to be educated on how to eat this stuff... Steve's been all over the world.
The owner of the eatery let us fill our 5-gallon water container in the kitchen
before we hit the road again. We picked up groceries on the way to Timberline Lodge
at the foot of this big mountain, which the Multnomah Indians called Wy'East.
We unrolled a tarp on the asphalt of the parking lot there and napped in our
sleeping bags until leaving for our climb at about 3 A.M. All of our stuff was covered
with a fine, dark grey volcanic ash. It was kind of nippy there at 6000 feet!
Although we lost our way initially in the dark, we just kept heading for Mount Hood.
As we plodded up the ski slopes under the dormant lifts, the headlights of
numerous snowcat machines tractored up below us, and passed us by. We didn't know that
many mountaineers hire these machines for a ride up the first 2500 feet of the Palmer Glacier!
By sunrise, we were at 8,540 feet, and it was still pretty cold. I was growing painful blisters
on the heels of my feet, owing to my new mountain boots which were not yet broken in.
Steve, as usual, had been training like a maniac, so he practically strolled ahead. I was
hobbling like a little old man, shooting video as we climbed. These volcanoes are usually
non-technical, and for the most part, it's true about Mount Hood. The final thousand feet,
however, are quite steep in places. There's a big crevasse to negotiate just before a feature
referred to as the Pearly Gates. We paused to fine-tune our clothing layers before
ascending the chute that leads to the Pearly Gates. The summit icefield, a vast concave
fan-shaped funnel, lay beyond. Steve forged ahead, snapping photographs. I was enjoying myself
so much that I savored every step to the top. The wind had a cold bite, but we felt good.
My video camera was somehow turned on when I made a phone call to my mom,
who lives in Houston. I have some nice footage of my boots!
We started down after an hour on top, at 11 A.M. We were above a sea of cloud, and at
9000 feet, we were immersed in it. Eventually, we broke through into overcast weather.
We were at the border of the Palmer Glacier, and we found ourselves in the middle of a
winter sports competition (in July), X Games style. Oh, and we found we were lost!
It took us five hours to get back to the car from the summit.
Our next stop was the Mount Hood Brewery, where we drank pints of beer and ate tasty burgers.
That evening, our bivouac was off a logging road somewhere near Trillium Lake. In stark contrast
to Mount Hood itself, a wet morning dew dripped outside the walls of our tent at sunrise.
Copyright 2011 EBBoykinJr
Steve Harris' photos Copyright 2004,
used with permission of
Steve Harris Photography
All Rights Reserved