Mount Hood (11,239 feet), the highest mountain in Oregon, has the additional distinction of being the second-most-climbed glacier-covered peak in the world. Nicknamed the Fujiyama of America, Mount Hood offers hikes that cater to everyone, from beginners to advanced climbers. Another similarity to its Japanese counterpart is that only a brief part of the year is safe for climbing, from May to mid- or late July.
Since the summer heat brings the threat of avalanche danger and falling-rock hazards, the time of day that you depart is just as important as the time of year. Most expeditions depart in the wee hours of the morning when the snow is firm and rock danger is less. Although you won’t get as much sleep, you will be able to enjoy beautiful sunrise scenery as you venture to the top.
Unless climbers are very experienced, it is best to go with a guide. All climbers should register at the kiosk by Timberline Lodge before climbing and check out after the climb. While the climb looks like just a few miles on the map, it takes 10–15 hours to make the trip from Timberline Lodge to the top and back.
The four primary routes up Mount Hood—Hogsback, Mazama, Wyeast, and Castle Crags—are all technical climbs; there is no hiking trail to the summit.
Having the right equipment means little if you don’t know how to use it. That said, all climbers should rent a Mount Hood Locator Unit, or MLU, available at local climbing shops and at the Mount Hood Inn off of U.S. 26 in Government Camp.
Guided climbs are offered by Timberline Mountain Guides (541/312-9242, www.timberlinemtguides.com, $460). The Mazamas (503/227-2345, www.mazamas.org), a Portland hiking and climbing club formed on the summit of Mount Hood in 1894, also leads climbs.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel