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Mt. Hood
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South Side Route 

Easy Snow PG13

   
Type:  Trad, Snow, Alpine, 5300', Grade III
FA: W.L. Chittenden, James G. Dierdorff - Aug 6, 1857
Season: Spring through Fall
Page Views: 14,872
Submitted By: Karsten on Feb 1, 2006

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BETA PHOTO: Climbers at Hogsback and ascending the pearly gate...

Description 

The south side of hood is one of the most popular routes up a glaciated mountain in the world. Also called the "dog route" or "slog route," this route has also claimed the most deaths on the mountain.

The South side requires little technical skills but still has objective dangers!!! Use caution at all times when on the mountain.

The route tradionally begins at Timberline Lodge (~5900ft). If you hire a guide they often take you up to the Silcox hut in snowcat but most local mountaineers consider this cheating. The ski area would like for you to take a trail that heads up the right side of the ski area. Most climbers however head straight up the slopes following the lift line all the way up the "magic mile" to the Silcox Hut.

Continue heading straight up the mountain heading toward the right side of a rock outcrop called crater rock. Here you will find a saddle formed between crater rock and the main summit. This saddle, known as the hogsback, is a good place to rest and evaluate the final push to the summit. Be careful of fumaroles in this area as they can release poisonous gases.

At the north end of the hogsback is the greatest objective danger facing climbers, the bergshrund. This large crevass is always present but sometimes covered with snow. During winter and early spring climbers can simply walk across this chasm on a snowbridge. Extreme caution should be taken however. At some point every year the bridge collapses. Climbers in late spring through fall must circumnavigate the schrund.

Just past the bergshrund is a steeper section through a narrow chute dubbed "the pearly gates" that has been the site of many accidents. Care must be taken on this section as a fall here could result in a long slide straight into the crevasse. This part of the climb can be very beautiful as the rock can be entirely covered in rime ice like a fairytale ice palace. As the chute opens up continue up a short ways to the summit ridge and up right to the true summit.

In recent years the chute to the left of the pearly gates has become another reasonable option to ascend when past the bergshrund.

Descend the route. Be careful as the route conditions can change dramatically in a short period of time.

Protection 

In good conditions the route can be done with nothing but a good pair of boots and a light jacket. Occasionally you'll see someone with a pack filled for a week trip on top though? The gear will actually vary widely considering on the season and conditions.

Common gear includes:
Crampons, Ice ax, 30m rope, Pickets, Prussiks or ascenders, harness, & belay device


Photos of South Side Route Slideshow Add Photo
Above the Hog's back, descending from the Summit
Above the Hog's back, descending from the Summit
a normal weekend day on the south side.
a normal weekend day on the south side.
View from summit ridge looking (south) down on the hogsback.
View from summit ridge looking (south) down on the...
First anniversary of Oregon Episcopal School disaster.
First anniversary of Oregon Episcopal School disas...
A small version of a larger image showing the soutside craters.
A small version of a larger image showing the sout...
Near the summit in the Old Chute. Hogsback below.
Near the summit in the Old Chute. Hogsback below.
South side of Hood from the Parking lot (Hog's back Route easily seen).
South side of Hood from the Parking lot (Hog's bac...
Climbing the Old Chute about 1/2 way up
Climbing the Old Chute about 1/2 way up
Mt. Hood. <br />May 2009
Mt. Hood.
May 2009
Sunrise on the palmer glacier.
Sunrise on the palmer glacier.
Looking up the HB route from the snow field below.
Looking up the HB route from the snow field below.
2012 Look at the Hogs Back alignment with the Pearly Gates. <br />Most groups heading up the old Mazama Route but start your traverse left (west) sooner than these groups did and stay out of the fall line.
2012 Look at the Hogs Back alignment with the Pear...
Early morning on the start up.
Early morning on the start up.
2012 May 12 Icy Pearly Gates
2012 May 12 Icy Pearly Gates
On our way home from a night climb. You can kinda see hogsback in the photo.
On our way home from a night climb. You can kinda ...
Barb feeling triumphant just above The Hogsback on 7/13/13.
Barb feeling triumphant just above The Hogsback on...
S Side Sunrise, Feb 2010. No one around.
S Side Sunrise, Feb 2010. No one around.
Sunrise, Mt.Hood
Sunrise, Mt.Hood
2012 Hogs Back watching groups take the Old Mazama Route
2012 Hogs Back watching groups take the Old Mazama...
Unknown climber on the hogsback headed toward the icy dribble on the right that used to be the Pearly Gates.  7/6/08
Unknown climber on the hogsback headed toward the ...
2012 May 12 Mount Hood Summit ridge
2012 May 12 Mount Hood Summit ridge
View from the summit of Hood
View from the summit of Hood
June 1, 2014. Pearly gates.
BETA PHOTO: June 1, 2014. Pearly gates.

Comments on South Side Route Add Comment
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By Peter Franzen
Administrator
From: Phoenix, AZ
Feb 1, 2006

The bottom of the Hog's Back is a good place to rope up. The sulfer fumes can be almost unbearable there if you get a windless day, but it gets better as you approach the summit. If conditions are soft enough the route can be done without crampons, but it's a good idea to use them anyways.

I think the only glaciated peak in the world that gets more traffic that Mt. Hood is Mt. Fuji in Japan. This is a great "first glacier route" despite the crowds.
By Blitzo
Oct 23, 2006

This is a fun hike, kind of crowded, though.
By Iain Morris
Jul 16, 2007

Crevasses and glide cracks have started to sneak out of White River and now come within spitting distance of the main drag up around Crater Rock. A climber was recently pulled out of a whopper just off of triangle moraine. He fell about 40 feet to bedrock.
By mark kerns
From: golden, co
Jun 10, 2008

A note about the descent....
the natural fall line is away from Timberline Lodge and directly towards Mississippi Head. If you are descending in white out or limited visibility conditions, make sure that you are using map and compass to site on Timberline Lodge. Know what the declination is and stick to it.
Also , I have use the top of the Palmer Chairlift as a point of reference, then following the chairlift to the lodge.
By Todd Morrison
Nov 27, 2009

The crowds are bad.

But, it is a good thing to see other teams of climbers rowing up at a great pace when you first start climbing. It kind of encourages you. I remember thinking, my first ascent of the south face, "that's amazing, how can they keep going!?"

Hood's real beauty comes out when it is stormy. The tracks of the myriad of visitors disappear, and you are lost in a blanket of white to work with only your wit.

You can hear the winds howl between the ridges as a warning to hunker down and get ready. Ice sprays down from the 'pearly gates' when you get close enough, and really gets your heart moving.

Seconding Mark's comment, I was two hours late my first climb because I came down incorrectly; morning clouds were in, and I was way off course. (learned to check the compass almost every half minute in no-visibility)
By DWech
From: Fort Collins
Jun 8, 2010
rating: Mod. Snow PG13

Would not rate this route a Grade III, it's a II. Even my dog agrees with that. Suggestion for those who want to bag the easiest-approach side of the mountain (from Timberline) without enduring the crowd, and adding to the hazard factor: try moving around Crater Rock to the west and doing the West Crater Rim route instead. If the South Side is sparsely populated it is worth doing, but opt for W.C. if the Mazamas happen to be up there with a dozen people moving slowly. You skip the infamous bergschrund, trading that for a longer and steeper slope, but if conditions are good (and early enough in the season/day), you'll be glad you did.
By Paul Wellner
From: Sherwood, Oregon
Mar 18, 2013
rating: Mod. Snow PG13

Lets add a helmet to that gear list shall we...
Falling ice and rock can be an issue with warm temps and crowds