Much like last year at this time, I spent my Christmas vacation in Portland, OR. This time I was more determined to summit 11,249-foot Mt. Hood. While it's not a super tall mountain, the final climb to the summit ridge is quite technical, especially with the conditions I faced. Frankly, I feel lucky to have made it up and back without injuring myself; I would recommend against anybody attempting this climb by themselves, at least if conditions are like what I found. In terms of ranking its difficulty, it's kind of a tie for second with Granite Peak, MT; Granite was longer, and my legs hurt a lot more the next day, but I think the crux move on Hood was more technically challenging than anything on Granite. Fortunately I survived to tell the tale, and I get to end 2013 with 40 state highpoints, 80% complete.
I flew up to Portland on Tuesday the 24th. I got to my hotel downtown around 8pm. The forecast for the week was pretty similar every day, at least in Portland and Government Camp, the town closest to the mountain- mid to high 30s, low wind, no precipitation. Since I thought it would be kind of fun, and I figured there wouldn't be much else to do, I planned for a Christmas day climb. So, I spent most of the first evening sorting through my gear and packing up my backpack. I went to sleep at a reasonable hour and set the alarm for 3am.
I woke up at 2, dozed off until 3, got up, ate a couple bars for breakfast. I left around 3:30; at 4 I stopped in the town of Gresham at a 24-hour place for some sugar. Just for fun I picked up a Santa hat for $5. I'm not much for holidays, but I figured it would at least make for a festive summit photo. I got to Timberline Lodge a little after 5. I put on my climbing boots and gaiters, and gathered my stuff. I registered for a permit, made a pit stop in the lodge, and set out on the snow.
My feet didn't turn out quite as bad as I had thought- some blisters but only one dead toenail, the second toe on my left foot. My legs were really sore for the next two days, particularly going up or down stairs. On Saturday I attempted some real exercise with a three-mile run, which wasn't too painful, but was not the most pleasant run ever.