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Mt. Hood Via South Side Timberline Approach

Standard Route with optional ski descent
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 8.2 miles
Duration: Full day
Family Friendly

Overview:  Mt. Hood is the tallest mountain (and volcano) in the state of Oregon. At 11,239 feet (3426 meters) it is truly a worthy alpine... more »

Tips:  I can't stress enough here the need to be prepared for an alpine climb such as this. First you will need the right equipment. For... more »

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Points of Interest

Please see attached photos to this POI for a topo profile of the climb as well as a Google Earth 3D image of the ascent route.

Timberline Lodge is a historic monument on Mt. Hood. You may recognize the outside of the building as the Overlook Hotel in the movie The Shining. If you have time after the climb I would highly suggest going inside to... More

2. Timberline Climbers Trail

This climbers path is basically a beaten down snowcat path that is intended to keep climbers away from the Timberline ski slopes slightly to the west (climbers left). It isn't very steep and in late spring you can easily put on AT ski gear and skin up to the top of the Palmer lift. You start at about 5,800 feet and climb to 8,500 to the top of... More

3. Top of the Timberline Magic Mile Lift

When you reach this point you have reached the upper limit of the Timberline Ski Resort and are level in elevation with the top of the Palmer Lift (8,500ft). From here on up to the summit you are on your own. I would suggest taking a break here to eat some snacks and refuel yourself for the climb. From here on up it gets steeper. If you... More

4. Illumination Rock

Beautiful Illumination Rock lies to climbers left at this point. It is sometimes considered the most difficult technical summit in the entire Pacific Northwest. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CLIMB IT! I have experienced friends who recently almost died climbing it! Take a look around at this point. You should be getting closer to Crater Rock above you... More

5. Steel Cliffs

These are the massive cliffs that stand tall above climbers to their right. Often they serve as wonderful wind blocks on sunny days. Directly below these cliffs is where the White River Glacier begins its descent down the mountain. Your aim should be to follow the beaten path to a small plateau marking the entrance to the crater and the... More

6. Devil's Kitchen

This is an area of active fumaroles in the crater of Mt. Hood. Look around at all the steaming vents around you and take in that wonderful smell of rotting eggs (sulfur)! My favorite vent is one that is always steaming and clear of snow just on the backside of Crater Rock (see photo). With the sun rising behind Crater Rock and the steam rising... More

7. The Hogsback

This is a very narrow ridge of snow that shifts up to many meters left or right each year. Near the top is a bergschrund (big crevasse) which needs to be negotiated with most climbers heading to climbers right of it up towards the Pearly Gates chutes.

At this point you have the option to head to climbers left up the Old Crater variation route ... More

8. The Pearly Gates

This is an area where it might be advisable to have a rope with you for the chutes if you are uncomfortable with heights. Many (including some dogs) make it up through the chutes easily without a rope but remember, it is always scarier coming down! Conditions in the chutes vary drastically throughout the year (and day). If you find yourself... More

9. Summit of Mt. Hood

The top of Oregon at 11,239 feet. You've made it! To the north on a clear day you should see the flat top of Mt. St. Helens, the giant dome of Mt. Adams across the Columbia River and perhaps in the far distance Mt. Rainier! To the South you should see Mt. Jefferson and perhaps just over it's shoulder the Sisters volcanic complex.

Depending on... More

10. Optional Ski Descent

A ski descent down Mt. Hood can be amazing, and in my opinion it is far better on the knees than trudging all the way back down over nearly 5,000 feet. Although some expert skiers descend from the summit a great option is to leave skis at Crater Rock below the Hogsback and descend from there. A great option is to ski far to the right towards... More