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Mt. Hood 1999
Photo Album

This is a copy of an article I wrote in the Summer 2000 about a trip, the previous year, to Mt. Hood, Oregon.  It was another state high point and a great training hike -- I don't think I had ever even SEEN a glacier before! 

Mt. Hood Picture here
Mt. Hood, Oregon from about halfway to Portland

 On May 19, 1999, three WSMR employees, Dr. Joel Fernandez, Danny Puett, and NCI's Jim Willard, climbed to the top of Mt. Hood, Oregon (11,240'), the state's highest point. While Puett and Fernandez had climbed many higher peaks, including Washington's Mt. Rainier (14,411') and many Colorado and California "fourteeners", this was the first climb on snow and ice for Willard. The trio started the Mt. Hood climb on May 18 from Timberline Lodge, a historic ski lodge at the 6000' level on the mountain's south side. They planned to hike and spend the night above the top of the ski area's upper lift at 8,500'. As they climbed, a light snowfall soon became heavier, pushed by high winds. By the time the team reached 7000', the snowfall had become a gale-force whiteout. By following the ski lift cables, which they could see above them, they reached their goal for the first day and set up camp in the blizzard. The storm continued through the evening and the climbers were concerned that their efforts might be in vain, as they knew they could not proceed any higher the next morning in such weather.


By 1:00 AM, however, on May 19, the climbers awoke to clear skies and a gentle breeze. They were excited by the excellent weather and especially by the sight of the peak looming above, a dark mass blotting out much of the sky full of stars. The team departed early, as is customary when climbing on glaciers and snow, to reach the summit and return before the sun increased the avalanche and rock fall danger. They donned spiked crampons, formed a rope team for protection against falls, and headed up the upper half of the spectacular mountain.

Jim and Danny heading up the hogsback above Crater Rock

At 10:40 AM, the WSMR trio arrived at the summit.  They had the top of Oregon to themselves and spent 30 minutes admiring the breathtaking views and taking pictures. They felt extremely fortunate to have clear blue skies and a view of much of Oregon and Washington, because the weather had been cloudy and stormy every day during the previous 2 weeks. 

Danny, Jim and Joel at the top of Oregon!

Joel and Jim getting ready to rope up and head down.

Aerial view of hogsback, Pearly Gates and summit area

The three will long remember the sights of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Jefferson, and other Cascade Range snow-covered peaks, standing in magnificent splendor above the surrounding spring green countryside.  While on the summit, one of the party (anonymous, of course) coined the "world's worst joke." Question, "Where do mountain climbers wash?" Answer, "Behind their mountain-eers." When the three later returned to sea level, they realized that "It's only funny when your brain is starved for oxygen at higher altitudes!"


After a last look around the summit and an attempt to fix the scenery in their minds, the three climbers headed back down the mountain.

They reached their camp at mid-afternoon and elected to pack up and continue down that same day. As the tired but elated climbers drove into Portland late in the day, they stopped several times to take pictures of Mt. Hood, looming above the landscape. Although they had been "in town" for 2 days, they had not seen the mountain because of the poor weather, so they seized the opportunity to take some "post card" shots.


Back at WSMR now, Willard, Puett and  Fernandez are busy planning future climbs (and working, of course). Asked if they would like to go back and climb Mt. Hood again, the three replied, "Sure! But, unfortunately, there are too many mountains and too little time!'"


Footnote: On June 27, 2000, the three mountain climbers reached the summit of 13,804 foot Gannett Peak, Wyoming.  The Wyoming state high point, in the Wind River Range, is the center point for some of the most spectacular scenery in the country.  It is considered one of the most difficult mountains in the continental United States to climb, however, and was a real challenge, in part because it is 25 miles from the trailhead. The trio is proud of their accomplishment during the six day adventure and they are happy to be home.  They plan to keep in shape with other hikes in New Mexico and Colorado and bore their co-workers with lots of pictures and stories.