On any sunny spring weekend the easy access to Mt. Hood's Timberline Lodge lures throngs of people looking to slog and ski their way up the iconic mountain. But venture away from the South Side to any other point on the compass and your chances of seeing another soul are greatly reduced. Indeed, it can be jarring to emerge onto a summit full of people after experiencing the solitude of one of the lesser visited faces.
Seeking some much needed solitude, Dan Mahr and I headed to Cathedral Ridge last weekend. We found an excellent and surprisingly classic route with a nice variety of steep snow, rime ice and exposed ridge traverses. Though I've heard of a number of people climbing this in the summer, I think it stands out as a spring route.
What makes it a classic?
- Position- The remote west side of Mt Hood can't be beat. Chances are you will not see another person. We didn't in two days. Approaching from Lolo Pass Road gives one even more elevation gain and, this time of year, even more solitude.
- Length- We accessed the ridge via Timberline Lodge after skiing across the Reid and Sandy Glaciers and got onto the ridge at about 7,200 feet. This allows for 4,000 feet of elevation gain to get to the summit, though the last 1,000' is a bit of a slog to the summit.
- Interesting climbing- While never particularly difficult, the climbing is varied and thought provoking with big exposure in some places
We found the route description and photos in Bill Mullee's Mt. Hood Climber's Guide to be excellent. There's no time like the present to get out there and explore the lesser traveled sides of your favorite local mountain!