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Illumination Rock

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Illumination Rock Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 9,533'
Location: 45.3695, -121.7 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 2,692
Administrators: Micah Klesick, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Ben Beckerich on Jun 24, 2013
This Afternoon

33° | 29°

33° | 29°
Memorial Day

39° | 37°

42° | 40°

45° | 39°

49° | 40°
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"...a crumbly hellscape fit for neither man nor beast."

- Ian Kyle

Illumination Rock is a unique place in the world. A sub-peak of Mount Hood, Illumination Rock Massif is made of better stuff than the rest of the mountain, but its basalt slabs and cracks are blasted and raw, locked in snow and ice for most of the year, and rarely touched by man. Holds are not to be trusted, and one must always keep a watchful eye and ear above, for the telltale sound of rockfall. The several hundred feet of scree-ramp surrounding the entire massif give warning to the overall stability and rockfall history of this beast... and traversing the summit ridge, for those few, brave men who attain it, is more an exercise of constitution than climbing skill.

The north face features lesser climbed, significantly steeper, and more hazardous, lines. The south face offers the majority of established lines, as well as significantly easier to find rap anchors, for convenience of an easy exit, or, more commonly, retreat. Both east and west ridges are climbable as well, with the west being the longest, and technically easiest, route on the massif. The east ridge is probably the shortest path to the summit, but has definitely seen more bails than topouts, due to the deceptively long stretches of unprotectable vertical steps, and poor ice.

The best ice will be found on the south face, between February and March, but some lines will form up earlier and some will occasionally last well into June, depending on how a given year shapes up. Generally, March is considered the best month to climb her.

The summit register is located directly under the teetering summit boulder. Most climbers bold enough to make it that far will settle for simply touching the summit bloc. Fewer still will boulder up the east side of the boulder and, panting and sweating with anxiety, reach out and slap the high-point, let out a yelp, and quickly shimmy back down. Very, very few have actually placed foot on that high place- only the hardest of hardmen will dare.

Will you?

Getting There 

The massif is generally, and definitely most practically, accessed via the south side of the mountain from Timberline Lodge, at about 5,900'. In good visibility, the rock will be immediately apparent to climber's-left of the main peak. Otherwise, the peak is within yards of exactly due-north of the lodge (adjusting for declination), and maintaining a north course will bring one to the rock itself, or the col between it and the mountain.

Above the Palmer lift, or from about 7,600' up (if navigating by compass), one must traverse the Zig Zag glacier. The Zig Zag is not known for crevasses, and none typically open up until well into summer, but bear in mind this glacier DOES crack open. Roping-up for glacier safety is not overkill, after a fresh snowfall.

Climbing Season

For the Mt. Hood area.

Weather station 5.5 miles from here

4 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',2],['2 Stars',2],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Illumination Rock

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Illumination Rock:
West Ridge   5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c M1-2 R     Mixed, 4 pitches   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Illumination Rock

Featured Route For Illumination Rock
Rock Climbing Photo: West Ridge to West Gable

West Ridge 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c M1-2 R  OR : Mt. Hood : Illumination Rock
The longest route on iRock, the West Ridge route follows the path of desired course along the western ridge. What it lacks in technical difficulty, it more than makes up for in adventure and aesthetic value. The broad Zig Zag glacier to your right, and the Reid glacier, its headwall, and the storied Yokum Ridge in full profile to your left, you just might spend more time taking in the sights than climbing.The route, like most on this wild, adventurous rock, is not clearly defined, leaving one to...[more]   Browse More Classics in OR

Photos of Illumination Rock Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Halfway up the East Arete
Halfway up the East Arete
Rock Climbing Photo: Sunset at Illumination Saddle.
Sunset at Illumination Saddle.
Rock Climbing Photo: Part of the summit ridge
BETA PHOTO: Part of the summit ridge
Rock Climbing Photo: Second pitch of SE Buttress
Second pitch of SE Buttress
Rock Climbing Photo: Illumination Rock with March Madness (WI4-5 ice co...
Illumination Rock with March Madness (WI4-5 ice co...
Rock Climbing Photo: East Ridge
BETA PHOTO: East Ridge

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