We caught our first glimpse of Mt. Hood as we drove through Portland on the Fourth of July.
“Wow. And we’re going to attempt to climb that?”
Semi-joking with a sprinkle of concern, Alex and I laughed away our nerves about our upcoming climb as we celebrated the holiday in the city. In a turn of events and last minute change of plans, we found ourselves trekking out to the Timberline Lodge a day earlier than anticipated. We started our climb roughly 30 hours after that first glimpse of the mountain – experiencing for ourselves why Mt. Hood draws climbers from all corners of the earth.
After our summit we spent some extra time at the trailhead, hoping to catch the last climbers as the season drew to a close. Munching on PB&Js, we spotted one man who had clearly just summited – the stiff gait was a clear giveaway. Giving him a few minutes to take his shoes and pack off, he generously agreed to share his story with us.
“200 times today.”
The answer to my question of how many times he had climbed Mt. Hood. We were absolutely beside ourselves – 200 times today?! We wanted to know absolutely everything about this man – Ed Lipscomb, a 68 year old Oregon native. He told us all about how he started hiking and climbing only after he was an NCAA champion pole-vaulter, and exactly what it is that draws him back to Hood.
Well it’s the closest mountain, and I like climbing. For training purposes it’s good to be somewhere that’s close, and you can just get all the repetitions in […]. After this year, I’m going to climb fewer mountains but higher mountains.
Local to the Portland area, Ed has an entirely different perspective about Hood. For us, it’s a grand adventure to come up here and experience the mountain and its surrounding wilderness. For Ed, it’s his backyard training mountain. Still, a turn of fate put us all in the same place, sharing the similarities between our different paths that pulled us towards Hood. Even though we were first timers gathering wisdom from a man who clearly knew his way around the mountain, we were all able to share the fact that we had accomplished something impressive. Though he has made the journey from Portland to Hood 200 times – Ed still has unfinished business on the mountain.
My ultimate goal is to climb the north face solo. When I’m 70.
Our experience summiting Hood for the first time as beginning mountaineers was wildly different from Ed’s 200th climb of that mountain. However, we both received important and personal lessons from our climbs. Whether it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done or it’s just a normal day of training, every mountain has something to teach you. Leaving Hood and the Timberline Lodge, we headed straight towards Sandy, Oregon – a small town right off the highway between Portland and Hood.
When telling others about our plans to spend some time in Sandy after our climb of Hood, we were told more than once that Joe’s Donuts is a post-Hood staple. That classic doughnut shop truly is a climber’s paradise, but our intention was to get to know the town on a deeper level than pastries. We stopped by the visitor’s center and were immediately greeted by three female volunteers who were dripping with knowledge of their town and couldn’t wait to tell us about the ‘True Gateway to Mt. Hood’.
Ann Marie, Sandy native and volunteer for the Historical Society, shared with us why she spends three entire days a week giving her time to the local museum.
“Growing up here you take it for granted, because you grew up in a beautiful area like this. But, greeting the visitors that come through our visitors center, you really are proud of what activities and facilities there are to do here.”
Seeing a mountain that I recently summited from afar has always been a profound experience for me. Passing through Sandy after climbing Hood, many athletes miss the opportunity to soak in their accomplishment. Under the view of Oregon’s tallest mountain, this town boasts some of the best views in the state.
“It is part of my life and when we travel, we have a poster in our trailer to share with others, because it is an awesome place. Mt. Hood is part of Sandy.”
“We try to help each other with activities, encouraging people to visit both places”
This volcano truly burns into your memory. Similar to how Ed started drawing Mt. Hood after seeing a mural of it once, Ann Marie can’t travel without a poster of the mountain as accompaniment. It doesn’t take an experience on the summit of a peak like that to leave a considerable impression upon you. Though she had never climbed herself, Ann Marie has family history both in the town and on the mountain.
My father climbed it 10 times. When he took my mother and my aunt with him, he stood on his head on Mt. Hood.
Alex and I can’t even begin to imagine performing acrobatics on the summit, we were just thinking about making it down safely. Our time in Sandy was a reminder for both of us that you don’t have to climb a mountain to have a meaningful connection with the area. Ann Marie had more knowledge and stories of Hood than either of us – demonstrating the myriad of ways these beautiful places touch our lives.
All four of us (Ed, Ann Marie, Alex, and I) all have something in common. Mt. Hood has left a sizable impression upon our lives – for varying reasons.
“One of the most shifting and lasting moments for us on Mt. Hood was when we were down climbing through old chute.”Alex
“Every single foot hold and every single hand hold was absolutely crucial – that laser mental focus along with full physical engagement was something that I hadn’t experienced before.”
“When I was a kid, there was a restaurant in the town that I lived and there was a big mural of Mt. Hood. After I saw that, I started drawing pictures of Mt. Hood, all the time. I started drawing pictures of Mt. Hood when I was 7 or 8 years old. It’s just always been a very cool place for me.“
I can see Hood from my backyard. I drive by Jonsrud viewpoint and see the beautiful view.. it stands out majestically.
Alex and I both experienced a type of physical challenge we never had before, transforming us both into more confident climbers. Ed has made the trip from Portland (through Sandy) and to Hood 200 times, often coming 3-4 times a week during peak season. Mt. Hood has given him the playground to become a remarkably experienced climber. Ann Marie, living with Mt. Hood in her backyard for her entire life, cannot imagine her life without that view. Her home in Sandy, Oregon would simply not be the same without Oregon’s tallest peak etched into the landscape.
These stand alone cascade volcanoes have already left a deeper impression upon us than we anticipated before this trip. From the physical challenges we’ve overcome to the stories we have been so fortunate to gather thus far, Northern California and Oregon have allowed us to more deeply understand why these places draw people in. Whether you’re climbing, day-hiking, or enjoying the view from afar – mountains like Hood have something to say to all of us.
It’s absolutely impossible to anticipate what our time in an area will bring. Having the opportunity to document both our personal experiences as beginning mountaineers and gathering these priceless stories has shown us how powerful a simple conversation can be. We have no idea what our time in Washington and beyond will bring – but we already can’t wait to share it with you guys!
Be sure to watch our latest vlog from Oregon – and be on the lookout for a future video detailing our climb up Hood in the near future!