Mount Hood Favorites

  • a pretty duck even prettier early morning light
    a pretty duck even prettier early...
    by richiecdisc
  • catching whatever glimpse of Mt. Hood
    catching whatever glimpse of Mt. Hood
    by richiecdisc
  • smoke was an unlucky factor that day
    smoke was an unlucky factor that day
    by richiecdisc

Most Recent Favorites in Mount Hood

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    no research but a mirror

    by richiecdisc Updated Oct 28, 2009

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    catching whatever glimpse of Mt. Hood

    Fondest memory: One mountain I was seeking out in reflection on our trip around the US in 2008 was Mount Rainer. I had barely seen the peak on my first trip to Washington State in 1994 and I very much wanted to capture some beautiful photos of it. We were in Oregon and it was our next stop but we made a small detour to get a bit closer to Mount Hood, a peak often mistaken for Rainer by those not familiar with the two. They do not look so much alike but they both do jut out from their otherwise flat surroundings. It was an impressive peak and I remember well seeing it as I drove to Portland in 1998 on my way back from Alaska. It just loomed ominously beckoning me to come closer but that would not happen for ten years.

    I had got a few nice shots of the majestic one and oddly enough the best was from the deck of a brewpub in Parkdale, a small town in the foothills of the mountain. Though I was hoping for a lake to catch it in a mirror I had done no research in finding one. It was a small part of a six month trip and not everything could be planned or even known in full in advance. We were driving around the area for a couple days, checking out the brewpubs and catching what glimpses of Mount Hood that happened to turn up. It was very fly by the seat of our pants. We stumbled upon a lakeside campground outside of Government Camp, a ski village a few hours from Portland and it looked promising. (Concluded below in Fondest Memory)

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  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    timing is often just a matter of luck

    by richiecdisc Updated Oct 28, 2009

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    a pretty duck even prettier early morning light

    Fondest memory: Capturing nature in photos is no easy task. Waiting is the key word. Lighting is the another. You do a lot of the former and often to get the latter. Animals don't pose though in some of the best shots you would swear they do. Even seemingly inanimate objects change over the course of minutes when you are dealing with things in nature. Mountain peaks have a weather all their own. You might be in perfect sunlight only to find a peak enshrouded in clouds. Capturing a reflection of that same peak? Well, wind is another thing mountains seem to attract and that my friend is no friend to mirror-like lakes. One thing you have to be is persistent and another thing is an early riser. While late afternoon light can be the warmest of all, early mornings have their own hue too. You are also more likely to have a landscape to yourself. And for reflections, it is your absolute best chance. The last thing you need is luck. You can only time so much. Timing is often just a matter of good luck.

    I have had my share of good luck but to be fair, I have been diligent about putting myself into position for it to happen often. Hiking around the Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador in 2007, I got up very early from backpacking slumber to get myself to a lake that the day before was like a raging ocean. I had the faith that it might, just might be flat that morning. It was a mirror and I snapped quickly, with fury. Minutes later it was churning up, reflective no more. (continued below in Fondest Memory)

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  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    a philosophical debate

    by richiecdisc Written Oct 27, 2009

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    smoke was an unlucky factor that day

    Fondest memory: In the morning, we decided to walk over to the lake. It was not quite as early as I normally would go out for a shoot but I had no idea what I would find on reaching the lake. There was Mount Hood with a lake begging to reflect before me. There were some slight ripples and I wanted to curse myself for missing the opportunity but on taking some photos I noticed what I thought were clouds clinging to the peak. The light was not great and it was not due to the time of day but to a lack of clarity in the air. I would later learn that forest fires had hazed the sky and what I noticed around Mount Hood was not a cloud but smoke. It was bad timing and no amount of planning would have made it otherwise.

    A week later, I got my much coveted reflection of Rainier. It was not at dawn but early enough and it was good timing as it was a perfectly flat at that instant. Good luck, good timing. Two sides of the same thing or a philosophical debate? I'm not sure but I got the shot and I took it.

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  • goingsolo's Profile Photo

    That's all she wrote

    by goingsolo Updated Jun 9, 2007

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    Mount Hood
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    Favorite thing: Mountains always look different after you've been to the summit. This one is no exception. That's when the rush comes to you. To view Mount Hood in all her glory and be able to say "Been there, climbed that", but with awe and respect and not an ounce of swagger. To know that it tested you and that you passed, maybe not with flying colors, but that you pulled through and got it done. That is my own personal moment.

    There was a lot of disappointment for me afterwards. Moments of difficulty that bordered on a sense of failure. In the end, I got it done, but with more help than should have been necessary. Most surprising, to me, was that I can't wait to take on something else. I'm anxious to get back out there. Driving back to Portland, tired and sore, I kept thinking, what's next? Next, for me, is going to be some snow and glacier training to get some badly needed skills. But, what is the next peak, the next journey, the next place where I'll stand above the clouds? I'm not sure yet, but I can't wait to find out.

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  • goingsolo's Profile Photo

    People are strange

    by goingsolo Written Jun 6, 2007

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    Mount Hood

    Favorite thing: I started loading gear into the car. Walking through the lobby at about 12:50 a.m dressed in ski pants, a ski cap, mountaineering boots, holding my helmet, ice axe dangling and harness around my waist clanking, I received a curious stare from the front desk person.

    I couldn't help but wonder, not for the first time, why I do things like this. I always think I find the answer to that at a summit or in a moment of reflection afterwards. But I keep coming back to that question. I work hard and in my spare stolen moments of vacation when I should be relaxing, I'm eating a vday old sandwich at midnight and clanking through a motel lobby preparing to engage in a ten hour grueling day. It kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it?

    It was chilly outside, with the thermometer hovering around 40 degrees. Temperatures at our starting point would be near freezing. Perfect conditions for the long awaited climb. Pushing aside the existential crisis, we finished loading up the car and headed towards Timberline Lodge and the long awaited climb.

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  • goingsolo's Profile Photo

    All rise

    by goingsolo Written Jun 6, 2007

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    Mount Hood

    Favorite thing: Not long after I shut my eyes, the alarm sounded. It was 12:15 a.m. Adrenaline jolted me out of bed and I began getting ready. I put on a couple of my lightest layers, and a windbreaker to ward off the chilly evening (or was it morning?) air, stuffed the rest of the gear into my backpack and stepped into my harness.

    Having learned the hard way on Mount Whitney the importance of eating even when I don't feel like it, I scarfed down the chicken wrap I hadn't eaten from yesterday. My stomach found this revolting, but I knew I would thank myself later. There was a long journey ahead and I didn't want to crash from fatigue.

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  • goingsolo's Profile Photo

    Last meal of sorts

    by goingsolo Written Jun 6, 2007

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    Mount Hood

    Favorite thing: We headed back to our rooms at the Mount Hood Inn, took quick showers and walked over to the Ixeaxe Grill for some food. It was about 5:30 p.m. and we were trying to convince ourselves that we were tired enough to go to sleep. Last year, I had a leisurely meal here with some fellow would be climbers, sampling the micro brews while snow fell steadily outside from grayish sides. This year, the sun shone brightly as it would for several hours as we scarfed down a large meal of pre climb food. Nearly an entire pizza later, I felt sluggish enough to attempt a couple of hours of sleep.

    We staged out our clothes for the next day and made sure our food and water bottles, including my precious redbull, being carried in a Nalgene bottle to prevent an explosion at high altitude, and assembled our harnesses and backpacks for the next day's adventure.

    Our guides told us not to worry about sleeping. After all, most Everest climbers do not sleep the night before. Well, we weren't Everest climbers and not sleeping worried me. Fortunately, as I live on the East Coast, 7 p.m. felt late enough for me to try and nod off.

    I actually managed to fall asleep and was awakened by noise from outside a neighboring room. I was about to go say something to the offenders when my better half pointed out that it was about 7:45 p.m. and, what exactly, could I say? Keep it down, people are trying to sleep. As always, he had a good point.

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  • goingsolo's Profile Photo

    Training day

    by goingsolo Written Jun 6, 2007

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    Mount Hood

    Favorite thing: The day before our climb, we met our guides at 9 a.m. to go over gear and head out to a slope along the base of the mountain to learn some snow and ice techniques. The view and the day were so different than they had been when we trudged to this spot the year before. This time, we knew we were really going while last time we wandered out there knowing the next day's climb had been cancelled. The mountain was clearly visible while last year I almost wondered if it was there at all. And, instead of being pelted with snow, warm sunshine beamed down on us. It was hard to believe that it was the same place I'd been to a year before.

    The soft snow did not make for the best training ground. One member of our group commented that it was like walking on mashed potatoes. I can't say whether that analogy is correct, but it was definitely difficult to step, plant crampons and do anything without sinking into the soft slush.

    These are not the best conditions for learning the proper footing for gripping ice. The guides kept warning us that it would be different, and more difficult, to make the steps when it was ice our feet were touching as opposed to snow we were sinking into. I think this definitely made a difference and contributed to the difficulties the following day. If I'd known, I think I might have opted for hiking to a higher elevation and camping out, allowing for more practice on firmer ground.

    Fondest memory: But spending the day at 6500 plus feet definitely helped. I didn't feel any of the symptoms of altitude the following day. Mount Hood is only 11,200 feet (and change), but altitude sickness can strike at any higher elevation. For me, I generally feel the dizziness which makes climbing, especially descending, difficult. I didn't have that problem to contend with the following day and credit the day of acclimitizing for this. But Hood would present me with other challenges.

    We didn't finish training until nearly 4 p.m. and we told to be back by 1:30 a.m. to be ready for our 2 a.m. snowcat departure. That didn't leave much time for much more than a quick shower, a meal and an attempt to get some sleep.

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  • goingsolo's Profile Photo

    Descending

    by goingsolo Updated Jun 4, 2007

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    Mount Hood
    2 more images

    Favorite thing: After our fifteen minutes of celebration at the summit, it was time to head down. The guides kept pressing us to keep moving, as the sun would quickly warm the ice and snow, turning it into slush which would be harder to navigate with crampons.

    The first and second photos show the angle of the chute we descended and the third shows us struggling with the descent. I get dizzy just looking at it. Did I mention that I am afraid of heights? I tried to keep that to myself and out of my thoughts as we descended this steep part.

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  • goingsolo's Profile Photo

    Downward spiral

    by goingsolo Updated Jun 3, 2007

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    Mount Hood

    Favorite thing: This was, for me, the toughest part of the trip, and not one I am enjoying writing about. But I feel the need to tell the whole story, the good, the bad, and the breakdowns.

    After descending the steepest part of the chute, we had another area of relative steepness to descend before reaching the area below the Hogsback. The best way to descend is to step diagonally, crampons pointed downward, and dig the heel of your foot into the snow. The problem, for me, was that my ankle would roll with each step, which was incredibly painful.

    I fell, numerous times, and just couldn't find a way to keep moving downward without stumbling. My legs practically gave out as I didn't have enough strength to hold my foot in the right position to make each step. The guide had to belay us for several feet down until nearly the end of the section. Frustrated by this, and by me, he stated that we had to do the last section of twenty or so feet on our own and that there would be no one coming to rescue us from this. I can understand the tough talk, but it hit me pretty hard. Biting back tears of embarassment, I staggered down the last few feet, painfully and disappointingly.

    Fondest memory: This definitely wasn't it. No one wants to be the person who holds up the entire team. I don't like quitting. Hate it actually.

    At the next rest break, I took a few minutes to regroup, and apologized to my teammates and to the guide, all of whom were incredibly gracious. I pressed on, but with the weight of disappointment. I couldn't shake it, and decided instead to hold onto it. Not to beat myself up over it, but to learn from it and use it to help me prepare better in the future.

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  • goingsolo's Profile Photo

    The foulest stench is in the air

    by goingsolo Written Jun 3, 2007

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    Mount Hood

    Favorite thing: At some point around 9,000 feet or so, we began to smell the rotten egg stench of sulphur. Somewhere nearby are the fumaroles, which reminded us that we were on an active volcano. Fumeroles are gas vents, thermal springs where magma located below the surface emit gases. We were cautioned to stay as far away from them as possible, but the smell was enough to keep us at a distance.

    By this point, it was beginning to set light, as sunrise this time of year is around 5:30 a.m. There still wasn't enough light for picture taking though, which was too bad.

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  • goingsolo's Profile Photo

    Long journey back to base

    by goingsolo Updated Jun 2, 2007

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    Mount Hood

    Favorite thing: The next thousand feet were difficult. They were even more difficult as we knew we had to hike all the way back to base as there would be no snowcat waiting for us at 8500 feet. The route alternated, unpredictably, between ice and snow, causing me to sink one step and slide the next. It wasn't overly difficult, just energy depleting. And the sun coming out made it pretty toasty. I shed most of my layers but still found myself sweating. This was about the time when thoughts turned towards home, so to speak. This is where the fun part is over and it takes mental energy to keep on going.

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  • goingsolo's Profile Photo

    Back below the Hogsback

    by goingsolo Updated Jun 2, 2007

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    Mount Hood

    Favorite thing: This was another moment of celebration, and a well deserved 20 minute break from our time pressuring guides. At this point, we were below the point where a rope was necessary and crampons were optional. The snow was pretty soft and would only get softer, so we all removed those as well.

    We were out of the most dangerous parts of the mountain, but we weren't out of the woods yet. There was about 3000 feet to go.

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  • goingsolo's Profile Photo

    Belay anyone?

    by goingsolo Updated Jun 2, 2007

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    Mount Hood

    Favorite thing: Our guide set up a belay for the steepest parts, in order to keep us secure. He dug a hole in the ground to set up the anchor. It was one of those self correcting belays (I forget the exact term) which make can hold several tons and make it impossible for anyone to fall. It is tough to get your mind to accept this as fact though, especially when you are descending a steep slope and a little voice in your head keeps telling you that, if you slip, you will fall a long, long way.

    Still, it was pretty impressive to watch our guide set up the belay and anchor it with an ice axe. A pretty nifty thing to know how to do, if you plan to spend a lot of time up at altitude.

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  • goingsolo's Profile Photo

    The old chute

    by goingsolo Updated Jun 2, 2007

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    Favorite thing: Rather than follow the trail of climbers up the Hogsback, our guides took us on a route that they hoped would be less crowded. It was every bit as steep, and then some. I had a bit of trouble on this part as my crampons could not get a firm grip in the ice, which caused my ankles to hurt a great deal. The good folks on the rope team ahead of me kicked steps into the ice, which must have been extra tough on them, but helped me in the ascent.

    Following a climb up a couple of steep slopes, we got to the chute itself. Although only a 45 or 50 degree angle, it felt almost vertical. The pictures from the descent really do it more justice.

    This is the final push before the summit is within reach. Almost fittingly, the great views of Washington's finest peaks are hidden from view, like a prize that has to be earned by serious effort in a grinding uphill journey.

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