Sandy Glacier Headwall

Ratio: 2:1
Length: 2 days
Price: 1 climber $900
2 $550 per climber
Dates: Custom dates available May through June
Location: West Face of Mount Hood

The Sandy Glacier Headwall dominates the west face of Mt. Hood. It is a seldom-climbed route due to its remote location. Summer trailheads that access the route are typically still snowed in when the route is in its best climbing condition – usually in the Spring.

A Long Approach

We begin our climb at the Timberline Lodge, where the Palmer Ski Lift gives us a boost on day 1 of our overnight program. From the top of the Palmer, we aim for Illumination Saddle, then drop down onto the Reid Glacier and descend nearly 1,500 vertical feet, to find a suitable place to cross the Yocum Ridge. Here we find our first camping options, overlooking the Sandy with an excellent view of the climbing to come.

Summit Day

With a requisite alpine start, we’ll work our way up the glacier until we’ve reached the more technical climbing. Following a logical path of steep snow and alpine ice in multiple roped pitches, we work our way towards “the choke.” This is the narrowest climbing on the route, and can involve deep snow runnels, steep alpine ice, and even hanging belays! Hundreds of feet more of steep snow and alpine ice eventually give way to the Queen’s Chair. This massive throne-like feature gives us an incredible vantage of the Pacific Northwest from Mount Adams to Portland.

The steep, narrow, and exposed ridge still guards the summit. We’ll traverse this ridge until it widens, as we gain the summit itself. Already a big day, we still have the descent down the South side of the mountain. After descending through the steepest terrain on ropes, we’ll walk back down the Hogsback and the Zig Zag glacier, until we finally reach the Timberline Lodge.

Folks looking to take on this climb should have previous steep snow experience. A high degree of physical and aerobic fitness is also expected.

Get Started

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Sandy Headwall

West Face of Mount Hood

The Sandy Headwall is the largest continuous Face on Mount Hood, and the one that is least accessible from a Spring trailhead. That makes an in-condition climb of the Sandy Headwall a difficult undertaking. It requires an overnight bivouac on the mountain, and climbing with overnight packs, through 2,000 feet of steep snow and ice to access the summit ridge. The descent down the South side of the mountain is a welcome relief after a long day of steep snow, ice and glacier travel.

Elevation: 11,239
Style: Steep snow and alpine ice up to 55°
Skill Level: Advanced
Sandy- Mtn
george

"I am very happy with my TMG experience. The guides were professional, personable, and extremely concerned about safety. . . I absolutely give highest marks to these guys. If you don't have much Alpine experience, or just want the security of seasoned veterans guiding you up this mountain, then I strongly recommend you sign up with them. Thanks, guys, for a great experience!!"

George C
Highland, UT
malcom

"What a fantastic experience gaining the summit of a mountain we've gazed on from Portland for 25 years! . . . We learned a great deal, had a ton of fun, felt in very capable hands, and had the reward of summiting on a beautiful clear day. The value of being with a professional, certified, guide and guiding organization was evident throughout. Kudos to the TMG team who were responsive, supportive, and fun to work with every step of the way."

Malcolm C
Portland, OR
Lucyan

"We booked 2-day overnight program on Mt. Hood with Timberline Mountain Guides. Our guides were great, . . super friendly and reputable. The program did not go as planned due to inclement weather but we still had fun and good experience. The guides were definitely flexible and provided guidance during the trip. I would recommend going with them if it's your first climbing trip on Mt. Hood for sure."

Lucyan
Portland, OR

Skill Series

Next Steps

  • The North Ridge of Mount Baker is another great 2-day alpine ice climbing route with big commitment
  • The Jefferson Park Glacier is a must-do for any collector of the Cascade’s best alpine routes

Know Before You Go

Prerequisites
  • Climbers should have experience climbing steep snow with an overnight pack.
  • Climbers should have previous experience climbing alpine ice.
  • The Cooper Spur and Reid Glacier Headwall are both routes that are great stepping-stones to the Sandy Glacier Headwall
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