WILDERNESS PERMIT (MANDATORY)
Climbing to the summit means entering the Mount Hood Wilderness Area which requires a free, non-quota, self-issued wilderness permit. These are available at the Timberline day lodge “Climbers’ Cave” and all trailheads within the wilderness area. The Climbers’ Cave does not have a door and is open year-round, 24/7. The Climbers’ Cave does have bathroom facilities available to climbers.
CLIMBERS’ REGISTRATION FORM (RECOMMENDED)
This is a general form stating the people in your party, planned route, climbing dates, and emergency contact info. However, if you don’t come back on your stated date, don’t depend on this form to initiate a search for you. For South Side Routes, this is also available in the Timberline Climbers’ Cave.
SNO-PARK PERMIT (SEASONALLY MANDATORY)
Oregon’s Department of Transportation is responsible for clearing public roads and parking lots of snow, including Timberline Lodge. To offset the cost of this effort, the State of Oregon requires all cars to purchase and display a Sno-Park Permit from November 1 through April 30. Sno-Park Permits from California, Idaho, and Washington are valid in Oregon. Annual, 3-day and daily Permits are available for sale at Mountain Shop and many other local businesses. For complete details on the Sno-Park Permit system, you can visit the Oregon DMV website.
Mt. Hood climbs can take between 2-24 hours round trip, depending on your schedule. The average climber wants to be done in a day and, unless you are planning on setting a speed record, that means leaving in the early morning and returning in the early afternoon. Typically climbers leave the Timberline Lodge parking lot between 11 pm and 2 am. Someone who has prepared properly to climb can average 1000 vertical feet per hour, at that rate, it will take a little over 5 hours to summit.
A start time should be established based on an estimated pace and your desired summit hour. It is strongly recommended that you summit no later than 8 AM to avoid peak rock and ice fall hours. If you are in good shape and have trained to climb Mt. Hood you can estimate 4-7 hours to the summit. Other climbers should prepare for a longer climb, maybe 6-9 hours.
Descending from the summit to the parking lot will take you approximately half the time it took you to the summit. If you reached the summit in 6 hours it may take you 3-4 hours to get back. Descending is a challenge in and of itself. You will be tired, and using a whole new set of muscles. But gravity is on your side, and there will be far fewer breaks (perhaps just the one to take off your crampons).