Although I had been climbing on a number of the Cascade Volcanoes for the last several years, I had avoided Mount Hood. I had never thought too much about climbing the mountain and I knew my wife was concerned about the accidents that were commonly reported on the news every few years. As I contemplate my thoughts now I think I felt hitting altitudes on Mount Adams that were higher than Hood, the climb didn't interest me enough to make my wife more uncomfortable than she already was.
After a successful summit of Mount Rainier in May of 2016, I started to consider the idea of climbing Hood. I felt the technical requirements, crevasses danger,distance, and altitude on Rainier were substantially more then those of Hood andI was "pretending" that I was "sparing my wife" at that point. I also must confess I was growing weary of answering "No" every time someone asked me if I had climbed Hood upon learning that I was "into climbing". I realize the later is not a good reason to climb a mountain. However, Hood seemed to be a "marker"for the average person despite my opinions that is was no where near as technical as Rainier or physically demanding as Adams.
Around the Spring of 2017 four other climbers who were quickly becoming my regular partners on vertical adventures had decided it was time to attempt Mt Hood. One of these climbers, Aaron, and I decided to make a training run up to the bottom of the crater on snow shoes. This severed as great opportunity to get"the lay of the land" on the South side of Hood and see what the conditions were like this season.
Since we weren't summiting we left the Wyeast lodge about 6AM on April 9th, 2017 and headed up the climbing trail from the East parking area. There was some decent powder that morning and the snowshoes came in very handy. We used the televators built in to our snowshoes and made an easy, but certainly not slow,pace up to the top of Palmer.
We had decided with all the recent snow fall, we would make a call about heading up beyond Palmer once we arrived. The avalanche report was pretty good that morning and the slope above Palmer was mostly ice and very stable. This side of the Mountain is usually fairly safe until your near the crater wall. We decided to go ahead and make our way up towards Crater Rock.
We continued our easy pace up toward the crater. When we got within a few hundred meters of Crater Rock we started to get a whiff of sulfur coming from the infamous furmaroles in the crater, this one being from the DevilsKitchen area. This is the furmarole to the climbers right of Crater Rock. We proceeded up until we found a spot at the bottom of the crater, near the foot of Crater Rock, where the sulfur was being blown over our heads high enough that we couldn't smell it. At this point we took a break to grab some food and admire the amazing views in the crater.
You really can't appreciate how beautiful the ice formations on the crater walls are until you see them up close and in person. We could see the Hogs Back was just 20-30 minutes above our current location, and then the summit was a mere 200-300 vertical meters above that. Climbers were coming down off the summit at that point and it was very tempting to just go for the summit. Unfortunately that was not in the plan for the day and we had left late in the morning and the sun was out in full force on the crater wall. I'm sure we could have easily hit the summit safely, but that was not the well planed lowest risk possible approach that we always attempt to follow. We snapped a few photos, changed out some gear, and headed for the lodge. We made it back without incident. Total ascent for the day was around 4,500 ft(1,400 m), in about 8:23 including stops for breaks and photos. We definitely had beautiful conditions and left the parking lot ready to return and attempt the summit very soon.
All of the photos, accept for the Palmer lift house, are from Aaron's iPhone 7.