Ascent to Mount Hood-Palmer on 2011-01-24

Climber: Michael Wanberg

Others in Party:Todd Trapp
Date:Monday, January 24, 2011
Ascent Type:No Summit Goal
Point Reached:Mount Hood - Palmer
    Elevation:8540 ft / 2602 m

Ascent Trip Report

Goal: Illumination Saddle

We left the Portland area at 3am, checked in at the climbers' registry and began climbing by 5:15am. When we arrived at the parking area there was a fantastic view of the whole summit of Hood looming above us in the moonlight (half moon). There was one other group on the mountain, a party of four skiers who had aspirations for the summit.

This was the first time I'd hiked/climbed with Todd, and also my first time above Timberline Lodge on the south side of Mt. Hood (twice on Cooper Spur on the NE side in 2010). This was a scouting trip of sorts for a future Hood summit attempt, hopefully sometime in the late spring. We had originally planned to climb to Illumination Saddle for sunrise, but the later start and terrible visibility made it pretty clear that the top of the Palmer lift would be as far as we'd go on this trip.

It was clear and glorious as we began our ascent, but by the time we reached the Silcox Hut at 7000' the conditions had significantly deteriorated, with much stronger winds (~40mph?) and extremely limited visibility due to clouds and blowing snow. As we followed the Palmer lift, there were many times when we couldn't see the next support tower. There was substantial rime formations on the towers that looked like something out of a fairy tale!

The gradually brightening cloud that enveloped us let us know that the sun was rising. After a brief rest, extra layers, and snacks at the top of the lift, we headed back down the way we had come. About five towers down, we emerged from the clouds and had wonderful views to the south of Mt. Jefferson and the Sisters! We enjoyed the sunrise vista on the descent, pausing only to remove our crampons at Silcox before continuing back down to the Timberline Lodge area. We arrived just after the lifts had started up and enjoyed a few good views of the summit area before departing.

Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:2660 ft / 810 m
    Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Route:SnoCat track to Silcox, then followed Palmer Expre
    Trailhead:Wy'East Day Lodge  5880 ft / 1792 m
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Ski Poles
    Nights Spent:0 nights away from roads
    Weather:Cold, Very Windy
Blown snow with near white-out conditions while ascending, clearing on the descent
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:2 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:1 Hours 15 Minutes

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