Climbing Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood is an 11,240-foot volcano and has 11 glaciers. The peak is part of the Mount Hood Wilderness. Mt. Hood attracts an estimated 10,000 climbers a year.

Quick Tips:

Climbing Conditions Report

Click here for a PDF version of the climbing conditions report.

June 16, 2024:

This past weekend, the upper mountain was hit with nearly 1 ft of new snow and strong west winds. While you'll generally find smoother surfaces and improved climbing/ski conditions, be cautious of the numerous scoured icy surfaces that exist on windward slopes, such as the Old Chute and West Crater Rim. The main hazards, particularly through Monday, will be long, sliding falls on steep slopes that have been scoured to ice and new snow avalanche problems, especially wind slabs, on leeward upper mountain features.  A gradual warming trend on Tuesday will introduce a shift to warming-induced mountain hazards, such as ice/rock fall and wet avalanches involving the recent new snow.

WEATHER NOTES: Cool, unsettled weather will persist through Monday. During this period, prepare for strong WNW winds, poor visibility, and light new snowfall. Tuesday will mark the start of a significant warming and drying trend that will continue through the workweek.

SNOW AND ROUTE CONDITIONS: 

The new snow helped smooth surfaces across the mountain. The Old Chute and West Crater Rim are in great shape for climbing but still hold old runnels and scoured, icy surfaces that will make skiing/riding a bit rougher. Pearly Gates and Devil Kitchen Headwall routes are still in rough shape with deep runnels from last week's icefall. The open bergschrund remains a serious hazard for these routes and folks using the upper traverse. The lower traverse (from the Hogbacks towards the Hot Rocks) avoids this bergschrund and remains the preferred route among climbers.

The WY' East Face, Newton Clark Headwall, and Cooper Spur are still in good shape and hold smoother surfaces compared to the windward side of the mountain. Careful timing and snowpack assessment will be essential for these routes as these are more often exposed to heavy wind loading and rapid warming. Ski and climb the conditions, not the date on the calendar.

 

MOUNTAIN HAZARDS: Regardless of the time of year, many hazards continue to pose significant threat to climbers.

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Ice/rockfall: The rock and icefall hazard, which tends to become more active during the first warm days after a colder period, will be a significant concern in the coming days as temperatures rise, particularly in the Old Chute area.  You can reduce your exposure by wearing a helmet, planning your travel early, and avoid lingering under cliffs of rime like the Old Chute.

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Avalanches: You'll have two types of avalanche problems to consider this week. First will be the dry snow avalanche problems while the temperatures stay cool through Monday. Pay attention and carefully assess terrain with thicker pockets of wind-drifted snow. As temperatures start heating up on Tuesday, you'll want to shift your focus to wet snow avalanche problems. Look for signs of warming, such as rollerballs/pinwheels and sticky, sloppy surfaces, as signs that wet avalanches may soon follow. Daily avalanche forecasts from the Northwest Avalanche Center have ended, but their website still provides valuable snowpack, weather, and avalanche observations. Please use these resources to help inform your terrain choices.      

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Long, Sliding Falls: The long sliding fall risk will be most pronounced on upper mountain, wind-exposed terrain with gray, icy surfaces. The upper Old Chute/West Crater Rim fit this description and have plenty of icy surfaces exposed. Having crampons, an ice axe, and ability to move carefully over consequential terrain will be necessary to prevent a sliding fall.

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Glacial Features: Bergschrunds and crevasses have been easy to recognize and avoid as most are exposed and open from recent warm weather. However, new snow may have created thin bridges over these that could easily collapse with the weight of a climber or skier. Increase your buffer when traveling near these and rope up when necessary. 

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Weather: This past weekend is a good reminder of how weather can change quickly on Cascade volcanos. Through Monday, be ready for limited visibility and cold upper mountain temperatures. While the weather is forecast to clear by Tuesday, still be prepared for strong winds and cold overnight temperatures. Always check the latest weather forecast before heading out

ACCESS AND PARKING: The Salmon River lot at the Timberline ski area is currently the primary point of access to the upper mountain. The Cloud Cap Road remains closed due to winter snow, and the Tilly Jane ski trail is melted out to dirt.

PERMITS AND HUMAN WASTE PACK OUT: The Mt. Hood Climbing Permit is required for all travel above 9,500'. Wilderness permits are required year-round on the South Side climbing routes. Your 3-day climbing permit doubles as your wilderness permit.

Please carry a WAG bag (human waste pack out bag) and use it if you need to defecate while on the mountain. WAG bags are available free of charge at the Climbers’ Registration near the entry to the Wy’East Day Lodge at Timberline.

Climbing Register forms are highly recommended. These forms are not checked to ensure that climbers have safely returned, but they provide rescuers valuable information if a rescue is initiated on your behalf.

-Joe Dellaporta, Climbing Ranger

Remember - you are responsible for your safety. Those planning to climb should take all necessary equipment for self-rescue and extended stays on the mountain due to weather or incident. There are no emergency medical services available on the mountain. It is a remote location. Any help may be hours or days out, especially in situations where your location or weather would create an unsafe situation for rescuers. It is always advisable to leave your itinerary and estimated time of return with a third party. Climbers’ Registration is in the Wy’East Day Lodge at Timberline.

Climbing conditions reports will be published twice weekly, by each Thursday and Sunday evening, through the 2024 season. Check out the Climbing Reports Archive for previous 2024 reports.

Climbing Permit in 2024

As of January 1, 2024, Mt. Hood climbers traveling above 9,500 ft. elevation must carry a climbing permit. The Mt. Hood Climbing Permit is available for purchase as a single trip 3-day pass for $20, or an annual pass for $50. Purchase on Recreation.gov any time before the start of your climb. Permit fees will fund additional climbing rangers, climbing safety information, and natural resources protection

In late 2022, the Forest's citizen advisory committee approved a proposal for a climbing permit for travel above 9,500 ft. Here's a summary of the permit:

  • The Forest offers a single trip 3-day permit and an annual permit. Single trip climbers must select a 3-day window for their climbing permit to allow for climbing in safer conditions if one day of the window has poor conditions.
  • Single trip 3-day permits are $20. Annual permits are $50 and are good for 12 months from the date of purchase.
  • The climbing permit is only be required for travel above 9,500 ft (on the South Route, that's roughly at the top of Triangle Moraine). The Timberline Trail, trailheads, and the ski areas on Mt. Hood are below this elevation and do not require a climbing permit.
  • Among other improvements, permit fees will be used to provide regular patrols along popular climbing routes, improve climber education & safety information, increase coordination and collaboration with existing mountain safety and rescue organizations, and reduce human impacts on the natural landscape.
  • There is no limit on the number of climbing permits issued daily or annually.
  • Read the climbing permit Q&A.

Climbing at a Glance

Current Conditions: The Northwest Avalanche Center issues daily avalanche and mountain weather forecasts early winter through spring.  National Weather Service forecast links:
Rentals & Guides: Outfitter/guide organizations currently authorized to conduct climbing services on Mt. Hood:
Permit Info:
  • The Mt. Hood Climbing Permit is required as of January 1, 2024 for all travel above 9,500' in elevation. Purchase on Recreation.gov any time before the start of your climb. 3-day permits cost $20 and annual permits cost $50.
  • Free wilderness permits are required year-round on the south side routes and May 15 to Oct. 15 for other areas within the Mount Hood Wilderness. A 3-day climbing permit counts as your wilderness permit. Annual climbing permit holders must also complete the Mt. Hood Wilderness Permit online form or a paper wilderness permit.
  • Climbing Register forms are highly recommended. They provide rescuers with crucial information if a rescue is initiated on your behalf. Complete these forms at the Climbers Registration area at Timberline.
Restrictions:
  • Group size limit is 12.
  • Mount Hood Wilderness Restrictions & Guidelines for Mt. Hood's upper reaches.
  • Please carry one or more WAG bags (human waste pack out bags) and use them if you need to poop while on the mountain. WAG bags are available free of charge at the Climbers Registration area at Timberline. No one wants to see human waste on the mountain. Pack yours out!
Restroom: Climbers Registration restroom is closed during the winter due to freezing temperatures. A portable toilet is available in the Salmon River parking lot at the Timberline ski area, near the snow climbers' trail.
Passes: Some trailheads require a day use fee. View a list of available Recreation Passes that may be used in lieu of day use fee payment. Oregon Sno-Park permits are required November 1 through April 30 at all sno-parks (excluding Billy Bob Sno-Park), including all Timberline parking lots and the Tilly Jane Sno-Park.

Climbing Video: