Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mt Hood Speed Attempt

Last week Amanda and I headed to Oregon for vacation.  My Aunt has an amazing beach house in Mazanita and we were planning on lounging around for a week.  It was going to be great.  No skiing. Just hanging with the wifey.  The only problem with the plan of not skiing was that after leaving Boise at 9 AM I couldn't stop thinking about Mt. Hood.  Even with no plans of skiing, for some reason I had packed up boots and a couple pairs of skis...

It doesn't seem like Mt. Hood has a strong speed ascent history and there isn't a ton of info regarding the Hood FKT but I did find an official record from 2004.  A guy named Dan Howitt hired Climb Max Mountaineering to time his ascent.  I guess there was controversy over the Rainier FKT and Dan wanted to make it official.  He put up pretty quick times on a bunch of volcanos.  His Hood time was 1:56:39 timed by Jacob Kammermeyer and Charlee Gribbon to the summit.  My attempt certainly would be unofficial.

Looking dorky
Luckily the freeways in Oregon have ridiculously slow speed limits so I was able to drive and surf the web for Hood beta.  Weather looked good - still with a high of 37 on the summit.  There had been a touch of snow a few days ago but nothing in the immediate past so I thought conditions just might be OK.  The detour to Timberline Lodge was only going to add an hour to our drive which also seemed reasonable.  After several hours of driving I still couldn't stop think about Hood so I brought it up to Amanda and we (I) decided give it a go.  I figured I should eat something and the only food I could find at our last stop before heading up was a Mickey D's.  I guess I would have to attempt Hood on a crispy McChicken Wrap.

When we got to Timberline Lodge it was 3PM, 70 degrees and sunny.  The snow was a slushy mess.  Not quite what I was hoping for but figured I'd give it a go.  The first 2800' are in the resort and although the snow was slushy it was reasonably compacted and skinned pretty well.  I think I hit the top of the resort in roughly 45 mins.

 The 'schrund on the Hogsback
From there I slowed considerably trying to fight the slush/ice combo.   The schrund was easy to bypass and the Pearly Gates had softened enough to make booting without crampons an option.  

Pearly Gates
Once through the Pearly Gates I skinned to the top summiting in 1:27:46 still in a tee shirt.  I snapped a few pictures, put on a jacket and headed down.  The Gate's were too narrow for me so ski and I was too scared to straight line it so I down booted the slush covered ice and was glad to have a whippet. The rest went smoothly and in 1:44 I found myself back at the fire hydrant.  Amanda and the dog were a sleep in the back of the truck, there were no timers.  I pulled my skis and boots off and we headed to the beach. I was psyched to have squeezed a little skiing into the trip.

I won't be surprised if this time is lowered considerably in the near future.  In fact, SCARPA athlete Scott Simmons who just won the Ski to Sea and summited/skied Mt St Helens with his 10 year old son is there right now and keen to give it a go. Good luck Scott!
Looking west from the summit
Not sure what's wrong with my face
Hogsback on the way down

SCARPA Alien 1.0 boots
Ski Trab Gara Aero race skies
SKi Trab Race binding
Outdoor Research Ferrosi pants, Torque Tee, and Radiant Hybrid Hoody
Julbo Dust glasses


  1. Nice job. And, Manzanita is the boom.

  2. Excellent work!

    However, Dan Howitt is a complete fraud and his so-called "official records" aren't accepted as that at all. For his Rainier "record" it was found he never went to Mt Rainier. He also never hired a “timing company” to time him but instead a likely fictitious individual.

    On Mt Hood, the most widely accepted record (until now) is from 1984 by Steve Boyer, a now retired ER doctor. In 1984 Dr. Boyer recorded a round-trip time from Timberline Lodge to the summit and back of 2:06. A round-trip time from Government Camp and back of 3:14, and a round-trip time from Portland via bike and then climbing of 10:16. Dr. Boyer was highly respected in the local climbing community. In addition to his records, in the 80s and late 90s he participated in numerous SAR activities on Mt Hood and was a ranked Masters T&F athlete.

    Source: Jeff Thomas, The Mt Hood Book

    Congratulations on your record!

  3. Wow, congrats -- a 1:44 roundtrip from Timberline to summit would be impressive even if riding the lifts!
    BTW, I searched a bit to refresh my memory on Dan Howitt, and in the process remembered all the speed records by Chad Kellogg, who was apparently entirely legit ... and tragically died from rockfall this year on Fitz Roy (although seemed unrelated to any speed attempt).

  4. Holy !!! that's soo fast? just skining up?

  5. This post is way too aggressive. Why won't you tell the truth!

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