Ken, Caroline, and I summited Mt Hood yesterday, led by our fearless guide Nick. We departed Timberline Lodge at about midnight, and made it to the top at around 9AM. Cloud cover partially obscured the view, but we had some great scenery on the way up. On whole, the weather was fantastic.

I carried my skis up part of the way, but found that the heavy pack sapped too much of my energy. Nick brought skis as well, but had skins that let him basically ski up the lower part of the mountain. That let him climb a bit more efficiently, without the load on his back. That said, descending by ski is far more pleasant and rewarding than hiking the whole way out, and I’m glad I lugged my gear up as high as I did.

Nick has been up the mountain countless times, and knew where the hazards lay. Every year, climbers are killed, primarily by being struck by falling rocks/ice, or by falling themselves on the steep final ascent. Nick chose a route that minimized the danger of the former, and we used ropes to reduce the danger of the latter. We watched one party descend from the summit using ropes in a way that virtually guaranteed that if one had fallen, the whole party would have been dragged down the slope.

I skipped most of the training I had planned (the kids’ soccer always seemed to take precedence), so I’m pleased that things went as smoothly as they did. Overall, climbing Mt Hood was a great way to celebrate my 40th birthday.