Contact us

 Activities  Climbing Instruction 

Mount Hood, south route


Simon Boyd and I made an attempt on Mount Hood this morning, starting at 1am. The forecast was for improving weather throughout the morning and then a sunny day, so we hoped that we could ride the wave of improvement and still get out of there before it got too warm. Not that it seemed likely, being such a narrow window, but worth a shot, anyway...

The first couple hours were very promising. The snow surface was perfect; well consolidated, but with enough fresh powder to get a good bite. The moon was nearly full, and the sky cleared a few hours sooner than forecast. It was cold, probably in the lower 20's, but not unpleasant. We were starting to think we had it in the bag.

Shortly before we topped Palmer, the wind picked up to 30-40 MPH and the cold really hit us, with wave upon wave of loose, frozen snow. Though I had on my warmest gear, it wasn't enough to keep my fingers and toes comfortable. At the top of the lift, there was no hope of shelter - the wind was just too strong, and from too many directions.

I spent probably half an hour trying to warm up my fingers with hand warmers, but to no avail. Muddling with my gloves only made it worse. The liners of one of my gloves got turned inside out, and without feeling in my fingers, I couldn't get it righted to the point of getting my glove back on, and I kept losing the hand warmers because I couldn't feel them. Simon was experiencing less drama, but his fingers too were frozen. My GPS and thermometer were iced over and dysfunctional, and I had icicles on my eyebrows. I couldn't deal with any of that without fingers.

We didn't get any of chores done, but I finally got my gloves on and we decided we had to either press on and hope that things improved, or that the movement would warm us up, or else turn back. Of course we pressed on, but within a few minutes had concluded that nothing was going to help except actual warmth, such as that of a car. Our gear just wasn't up to the task. We turned back about 4:30, thus concluding, I believe, my fourth failed summit attempt this year.

Don't listen to weather reports, don't trust the telemetry data. The way you can tell if the weather will be good is if I'm not going.

But we had a great night out, anyway! Maybe next time.

Fritz Capell

Santiam Alpine Club


E-mail group

GPS routes


Membership application

Member info update

Mountain climbing sites

Rope locker

Site map

Trip reports

Club officers


Mountain climbing school

Rock climbing at Smith Rock

Glacier travel and crevasse rescue

Ice climbing

Mountain Climbing School Manual

Mountain climbing terms