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Routes in Mt. Hood

Type: Trad, Snow, Alpine, 5300 ft, Grade III
FA: W.L. Chittenden, James G. Dierdorff - Aug 6, 1857
Page Views: 24,267 total, 168/month
Shared By: Karsten Duncan on Feb 1, 2006
Admins: Nate Ball, Micah Klesick

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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

Derek Field
Flagstaff, AZ
  Mod. Snow
Derek Field   Flagstaff, AZ
  Mod. Snow
Climbed this route on a very cold day, mid-April 2015, and had it all to myself. Lugged the snowboard up to Devils Kitchen and did NOT regret it. Outstanding experience! Sep 26, 2017
Nate Ball
Portland, OR
 
Nate Ball   Portland, OR  
 
Second the "do it in winter" sentiment. I had the summit to myself for awhile on a day of perfect visibility. Bring snowshoes and trekking poles! You'll use them all the way up to just below the Hogsback which is 90% of the slog. I went the "old chute" way which is maybe slightly less scary but remains in exposed territory longer, and it's more of a detour, and then there's the traverse across the ridge which is exciting... Pearly Gates was naught but big fluffy powder which could have been done without crampons (maybe). Last note: post-holing sucks. Skiing off would make the whole trip that much more worth it. Jan 27, 2017
Chris C.
Seattle, WA
Chris C.   Seattle, WA
Tsherry, "I would like to kiss whoever kicked those steps, they were a blessing."

Haha that was me earlier in the night! It made for a pretty physical day.. Jan 22, 2017
tsherry
Portland, OR
tsherry   Portland, OR
Climbed South Spur route for sunrise on Jan 16th. The winds had blown over the trail, so it was difficult to follow the path. Clear weather turned to white out which added to route finding difficulties. Losing the packed path meant lots of post holing and kickstepping. We ended up finding our way to Devil's Kitchen by smell where the weather finally started to clear. As we started up Hogsback, the dawn approached and with it the wind died down and visibility improved.

This was my second time summiting hood. I was surprised at the variability of the Pearly Gates. The path up felt less steep than the last time and there were many well kicked steps. I would like to kiss whoever kicked those steps, they were a blessing.

The summit welcomed us with calm weather and an amazing sunrise. We were the only ones on the peak that early. Jan 17, 2017
Chris C.
Seattle, WA
Chris C.   Seattle, WA
I recently climbed the Pearly Gates route this Winter, and was unexpectedly surprised how awesome and so much of a different experience it was compared to that in the Spring/Summer.

Spring/Summer - 2 Stars - Extremely crowded, route kicked into a ladder, noobs noobing everywhere.

Winter - 4 Stars - Truly feels like a different route. Much harder, route less defined, expect hours of step kicking. Exposure feels much more significant. The section between the Hogsback and PG is steep snow climbing of ice and sugar, solo downclimbing this definitely makes you realize the exposure. Classic PNW alpine route in my book. Jan 16, 2017
Paul Wellner
Sherwood, Oregon
  Mod. Snow PG13
Paul Wellner   Sherwood, Oregon
  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 Mar 18, 2013
DWech
Fort Collins
  Mod. Snow PG13
DWech   Fort Collins
  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. Jun 8, 2010
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) Nov 27, 2009
mark kerns
denver, co
mark kerns   denver, co
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. Jun 10, 2008
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. Jul 16, 2007
Blitzo
 
Blitzo  
 
This is a fun hike, kind of crowded, though. Oct 23, 2006
Peter Franzen
Phoenix, AZ
 
Peter Franzen   Phoenix, AZ  
 
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. Feb 1, 2006