Mt. Hood is the highest mountain in Oregon. However, excluding subsidiary peaks, it is only the fourth highest in the Cascade Range, far lower than 14,000 foot giants Mt. Rainier and Mt. Shasta and over a thousand lower than Mt. Adams. However, owing to its relatively northern and western position in the range, the peak is heavily glaciated and receives staggering amounts of snowfall every winter. Also, Mt. Hood has a more pointy and distinctive profile, in contrast to the many other Cascade volcanoes.
Mt. Hood is an easy climb compared to Mt. Rainier, but still a difficult excercise in snow and ice climbing that has killed an alarming number of alpinists. Steep slopes, unpredictable weather, and easy access to a
metropolitan area make the peak dangerous despite being perhaps the most climbed glaciated peak in the world.
The south side is the standard climbing route, made easier by a ski lift running from Timberline Lodge up to about 8,500'. The lift runs virtually year-round, but starts too late in the day for climbers wishing for optimal
glacier conditions. Sno-cats can be hired for pre-dawn trips up to the top of the lift, or the liftline can be hiked, adding a couple hours to the ascent.
From the top of the lifts, the route easily ascends broad, sloping snowfields to a ridge of snow called the Hogsback. The top part of this ridge is split by a bergschrund, usually the only crevasse on the trip. Once this obstacle is turned, a short but steep stretch of ice or snow (the "Pearly Gates") leads directly to the summit.