In my opinion, the most dangerous aspects of climbing Mount Hood, Oregon’s highest peak, are bad weather, bad snow condition (boilerplate ice or thick gooey slush), crowds, and a partner shy on skills. We had none of those December 14th 2017 After a week of high pressure, we had spring climbing conditions in December. My friend Dave Nunn, owner of Windance Boardshop in Hood River, and I set off for the summit. We skinned and ski-cramponed up Triangle Moraine, bootpacked to the top of Hogsback, and cramponed up the Old Chute. We left our skis at the bottom of Old Chute, so after we tagged the summit (no wind, clear skies, mid-40s temp) we skied down West Crater Rim and the ZigZag Glacier. Climbing time was three hours from the top of Palmer Chair. Here’s what I brought in my pack.
My volcano skis are Black Diamond Carbon Aspect skis (166cm x 90mm). For winter, I use the Dynastar Cham 97 and Black Diamond Helio 105, but for skimo trips: light, short, narrow waist is lighter. I have the Aspects mounted with Dynafit Radical ST binders (second generation). Yea, Dynafit had tons of problems with these binders, but they seem to have the bugs worked out for the Radical ST 2.0 which I’m using on my winter skis.
I got Black Diamond Glidelite skins for all my skis this years: they are supple, more compact, and dry quicker. I use Dynafit ski crampons and the aluminum Black Diamond Neve boot crampons. I took a Black Diamond Whippet pole and an aluminum Black Diamond Raven Ultra Ice Axe—up and down the Old Chute was a two-tool climb.
I have about 100 days in La Sportiva Spectre 2.0 boots with aftermarket Intuition Pro-Tour MV liner, the only liner I’ve used for the past 10 years (I ski mold them, never cook). I love the way these ski: light but still stiff enough to drive a big ski in big terrain. It took a bit of fiddling to figure out the proper buckle tension. The plus is the generous walk mode. The biggest down side is the cuff lock froze in walk mode on a big tour in cold weather once in British Columbia.
This winter I’m skiing with the Pieps Jetforce 34 backpack: it’s is tall and narrow, so skis well. The ice axe holder and ski sling still allow airbag deployment. I like the top loading feature, so stuff doesn’t spill out all over the summit when I’m digging out food and water. I have a Ferrino Full Safe pack, which uses the Alp Ride canisters, but getting spare cartridges is no easy task because they have to be shipped to a dealer.
Here’s a short list of everything else in my pack.
Small survival, repair, emergency kit.
Phone with Gia GPS app.
Camp Speed helmet, Smith goggles, Oakley sunglasses with yellow and gray lenses.
Two under-the-helmet hats, one buff, gloves (Smartwool liners, Smartwool Spring and puffy Black Diamond winter gloves)
Top: I almost always climb in a Patagonia lightweight base, Stio Gannet Peak lightweight fleece (fullzip, hoodie), and the Outdoor Research Ferossi wind jacket (fullzip, hoodie) I carried a Mammut Nordwand hard shell (for emergency), and Rab Xenon primaloft puffy (you guessed it: full zip, hoodie).
Bottom: I climb in ExOfficio boxers, Smartwool socks, Patagonia lightweight base, and Mammut Courmayeur soft shell pants. I carry a hardshell Marmot Precip full zip pants (for emergencies).
I brought a one quart ziplock full of food, and a 0.75 liter water bottle. Hint: I preload with water in the morning before hitting the mountain.