WILDERNESS PERMIT (MANDATORY)
Climbing to the summit means entering the Mount Hood Wilderness Area which requires a free, non-quota, self-issued wilderness permit. These are available at the Timberline day lodge “Climbers’ Cave” and all trailheads within the wilderness area. The Climbers’ Cave does not have a door and is open year round, 24/7. The Climbers’ Cave does have bathroom facilities available to climbers.
CLIMBERS’ REGISTRATION FORM (RECOMMENDED)
This is a general form stating the people in your party, planned route, climbing dates and emergency contact info. However, if you don’t come back on your stated date, don’t depend on this form to initiate a search for you. For South Side Routes, this is also available in the Timberline Climbers’ Cave.
SNO-PARK PERMIT (SEASONALLY MANDATORY)
Oregon’s Department of Transportation is responsible for clearing public roads and parking lots of snow, including Timberline Lodge. To offset the cost of this effort, the State of Oregon requires all cars purchase and display a Sno-Park Permit from November 1 through April 30. Sno-Park Permits from California, Idaho and Washington are valid in Oregon. Annual, 3-day and daily Permits are available for sale at Mountain Shop and many other local businesses. For complete details on the Sno-Park Permit system, you can visit the Oregon DMV website.
Mt. Hood climbs can take between 2-24 hours round trip, depending on your schedule. The average climber wants to be done in a day and, unless you are planning on setting a speed record, that means leaving in the early morning and returning in the early afternoon. Typically climbers leave the Timberline Lodge parking lot between 11pm and 2am. Someone who has prepared properly to climb can average 1000 vertical feet per hour, at that rate it will take a little over 5 hours to summit.
A start time should be established based on an estimated pace and your desired summit hour. It is strongly recommended that you summit no later than 8AM to avoid peak rock and ice fall hours. If you are in good shape and have trained to climb Mt. Hood you can estimate 4-7 hours to the summit. Other climbers should prepare for a longer climb, maybe 6-9 hours.
Descending from the summit to the parking lot will take you approximately half the time it took you to summit. If you reached the summit in 6 hours it may take you 3-4 hours to get back. Descending is a challenge in and of itself. You will be tired, and using a whole new set of muscles. But gravity is on your side, and there will be far fewer breaks (perhaps just the one to take off your crampons).
A typical schedule for a south side climb of Mt. Hood might look like this:
11:00 PM – Arrive at Timberline Lodge parking area. Check in, organize gear and use the restroom.
12:00 AM – Depart the parking area.
1:30 AM – Arrive at Silcox Warming Hut. Take a break, if needed, using Silcox as a windbreak.
4:00 AM – Arrive at Upper Palmer Lift House.Take another break, check weather and visibility. If either is poor consider waiting for better conditions, or turning around.
5:30 AM – Arrive at Crater Rock. This is the best spot to put on crampons, harnesses, etc. It is also as far as you should go if you are not prepared for a climb.
7:00 AM – Summit.Enjoy the views, a snack, a drink, take some photos, and turn around. You’ll want to be back to Crater Rock before rock/ice fall danger rises around 9AM
8:30 AM – Arrive back at Crater Rock. Take off your crampons, harness, etc. By now conditions are generally warm enough to not need crampons. Keep them on if you feel more comfortable.
12:30 PM – Arrive back at Timberline Lodge parking area. Take breaks at the Upper Palmer Lift House and/or Silcox if you’d like.
All climbers should have a plan in place for emergency situations. This includes a plan made with a friend or loved one who is NOT climbing, and a plan for the climber(s).
Friends/Family Plan: It is important that you leave an itinerary with a friend, family member or loved one who is not climbing. This way, should something happen and you are not able to initiate a search, rescuers will be alerted and a search will commence.
This plan should include:
The specific route you will take
An alternate route in case of emergency
Timetable for your climb
A time when you will check in
A time to initiate a search
Contact information for Search and Rescue
Contact information for family members of each climber
With this information in place, the individual you leave it with will know when to expect a phone call, when to worry, who to call and what to tell them. We recommend you pick a time you will check in with your friend/family member that is 1-3 hours after you plan on returning to Timberline Lodge. This way you have flexibility for any delays. Your search initiation time should be 6-10 hours after you were suppose to check in. If you do use this kind of plan, DO NOT FORGET TO CALL. If you are off the mountain safely, call. If you are running late, call. If you blow off the climb and go to a bar in Government Camp, call.
Climber(s) Plan: Within your team, or as a solo climber, you must have a plan in case of emergency. It is impossible for us to go through every scenario, but you must work through some common problems and agree on the solutions before you leave.
Some questions to consider:
What if a storm moves in?
What if we get lost?
What if we are behind schedule?
What if the route conditions are questionable?
What if someone is fatigued?
What if someone is injured?
It is vital that every member of your group agree on an answer to these questions. During a climb, ego and adrenaline are high and decisions can be rash. Discuss possible scenarios before you leave and come to a consensus. These are problems best solved in the parking lot, or better yet the drive up. Of course, there are a million things that can happen in a million different ways. You must be able to asses the situation and make good judgements, often on the fly.
If you're new to climbing or just new to Mt. Hood, a guided trip is a great opportunity to learn some skills from an experienced climber who knows the mountain like the back of their hand. Because Mt. Hood is located within a wilderness area, guiding permits are restricted to a handful of approved operations. We have a great relationship with the folks at Timberline Mountain Guides, having climbed with a number of their guides and worked closely with them as an integral part of the local outdoor community. They offer guided ascents of several routes with varying degrees of technical difficulty, as well as alpine skills courses.