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Description"...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.
Getting ThereThe 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.
Classic Climbing Routes at Illumination Rock
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season