The Summit Program is our most popular and our most successful program. We gear this program for folks with little to no previous mountaineering experience, although a high degree of physical fitness is needed for this climb. Much of the information in the media and on the internet is misleading on the technical description of the Southside Route on Mt Hood. The Southside route is best described as an entry-level technical climb. It is not a walk-up or nontechnical climb. This is an important distinction to make when deciding about whether to attempt this climb.
On the first day, after meeting your group and your guide, you can expect to spend a few minutes sorting and issuing gear, fitting boots and crampons, and going through logistics for the climb. If after reviewing the equipment list you still have questions about what to wear or bring on the climb, this is the time to ask, so please bring all of your gear with you. During this session, your guide will brief you on the current mountain and route conditions, weather, and the schedule for the rest of the climb.
Once everyone in your group has all the gear they need and all of the pre-climb logistics have been sorted, you’ll head out to begin the Steep Snow Climbing Course. Usually this involves just a short hike from the lodge, but you’ll want to come prepared for a day out on the snow. If the weather is fair, you often won’t need to bring all of the layers you’re planning on climbing in, but you will need waterproof shells, gloves, food, water and all of the technical climbing equipment for the climb. Please arrive at the office prepared for the day’s weather.
This course usually takes until early afternoon, and covers everything you’ll need to know to climb the mountain with our guides. Topics include footwork in mountain boots, crampon and ice axe techniques, rope systems, and self-arrest.
Your guide will let you know on Day 1 when and where you will meet the snowcat to begin your climb on Day 2. Typically, you’ll meet at the Climbers’ Register at the lower entrance to the Wy’East Day Lodge sometime between 12:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. Once you’ve been through a final gear check, you’ll board the cat and enjoy the ride to the top of the ski resort. From there, you’ll have to shoulder your pack and head up the mountain. Usually we’ll climb the Southside route and attempt the summit via one of many popular variations including the Old Chute and The Pearly Gates. Generally, you can expect to take about four to five hours on the way up, and three to four on the way down, making for a typical day of about seven to ten hours round-trip from Timberline Lodge. Any ascent of the Southside routes will include climbing on non-technical terrain as well as on steeper slopes of snow and possibly rock or ice.
Most of the climbers we work with are surprised about how steep and exposed the climb is. In addition, most people feel that the climb was more physically demanding than they anticipated. We mention this information because we want you to be prepared and understand what you are getting yourself into! Those who do participate are rewarded with an amazing experience on Oregon’s highest and most iconic peak. It will all be worthwhile!