Mt. Hood Conditioning

The height assigned to Mount Hood's snow-covered peak has varied over its history. Recent sources put it at 11,249 feet (3,429 m), a GPS reading by FitClimb member in 2008 measured 11,312 (probably due to snow-pack). Mt. Hood is home to twelve glaciers. It is the highest point in Oregon and the fourth-highest in the Cascade Range. Mount Hood is considered the Oregon volcano most likely to erupt over the next 30 years with a 3-7% chance. Mt. Hood is one of the most popular snow peak climbed in the US with many novices attempting it.


Although Mt. Hood’s southside route from Timberline Lodge (Hogsback) is considered a beginner climb. It is still a technical climb with crevasses, rock fall, danger in inclement weather and possibility of getting stuck in a whiteout on the way down. There are no trails to the summit. Ropes, crampons and other technical gear are necessary. Climbing season is generally from April to mid-June due to melting snow and rock fall hazards later in the season. Fatalities on the mountain average at least one a year with several major incidents during winter climbs. Other routes on the mountain are much more difficult.


Consider climbing mid-week to enhance your opportunity for solitude. One of the appeals to Mt. Hood is a fit climber can summit in a day, hence reducing pack load, leaving the parking lot by 1am and aiming to be on the summit by 9am, then back down by 1pm, making it a similar climb physically to Mt. St. Helens. For those that are out of shape or new to mountaineering it’s possible to purchase a ride on a snow cat to 8500 feet and start climbing from there.

To train for Mt Hood (1 day summit trip from Timberline, more difficult routes should follow a 12 week plan):

  • Prepare by hiking 5 miles per week with 2000-4000 feet of elevation gain.  
  • A good gauge is being able to carry a 15 lb pack on a 2000 ft elevation hike in about 3 hours.
  • Sustained aerobic workout on stair-master or bike for 60 minutes. 
  • Run 7 miles per week.  
  • Focus on building leg strength.

For Mt. Hood, the 6 week mountaineering plan is sufficient.

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