Femme Beckey Expedition: May 16th-June 8th, 2023
Written by: Miriam Caron, July 2023
Expedition Members: Lizzie Wenger, Miriam Caron, Sierra Smith, & Ella Meyer

Mountain Two: Mt. Hood via The Old Chute: May 20th-21st

Mt. Hood by Lizzie Wenger

We set out from the Mt. Hood climber’s trail at Timberline Lodge at 11pm on May 20th, 2023. After what felt like the longest mile hiking up the Palmer glacier to the top of the Palmer ski lift, we cut left and traversed the Zigzag glacier. We made it to the Illumination saddle at about 3am on May 21st. However after peering down at the Reed glacier from the vantage point of the saddle we could see gaping crevasses as well as huge boulders that had fallen from the couloirs above the route we intended to climb. We made the decision that the melt out was too severe and we could not climb the intended route of the Leuthold couloir. 

After traversing back across the Zigzag glacier, we made it to Hell’s Kitchen – flats at the base of the Hogsback where sulfur steam vents perfume the air with their trademark rotten egg smell. There, we ditched our rope and pickets. Due to the warmer temperatures north east Oregon had experienced early on in the spring season, we no longer needed the extra safety gear usually used in deep snow conditions.  After unloading some of that gear, we strapped on our crampons and pushed on. 

Liz at the Hogsback

We joined what felt like the rest of the Portland metro area in climbing the Old Chute route to get to the summit as the more popular Pearly Gates route had large crevasses blocking its entry. The Old Chute route was extremely melted out and required us to front point on our crampons and use two ice tools the entire way up. Although the front pointing was straightforward, the huge crowds made this very dangerous. If even one climber had fallen it would have created a domino effect of climbers with sharp crampons on their feet and ice axes tied to their harnesses cascading down into the steam vents below. 

Below the Old Chute

Miriam (in red) Ascending the Old Chute

Crowded Mt. Hood summit

By 7 a.m. we safely made it to 11,279 feet of elevation – Mt. Hood’s towering summit. Due to the large crowds, stomach dropping cornice, and sun creeping higher in the sky we did not linger on the summit. After a sip of water and a quick picture we were able to descend to Hell’s Kitchen before the sun melted out the snow even more. We made it back to the car around 11am and took a power nap before making our way to our next mountain: Mt. Adams in Southwest Washington.

Stay tuned for Part 4 of the Femme Beckey Adventure: A summit of Mt Adams!