Some of the most interesting stories about Mount Hood come from the early days of its exploration by the people who came to live in Portland and its surrounds. Like the disputed first summit by Thomas J. Dryer, publisher of what became The Oregonian, in 1854. (Three years later, one of Dryer’s employees, Henry Pittock, was part of a team that bagged the official first ascent.) And the reason that Illumination Rock, a prominent outcropping at about 9,500 feet on Hood’s southwest shoulder, is called Illumination Rock. (Various parties in the 1870s and 1880s hauled a substance known as red fire to the rock and the mountain’s summit and set about illuminating the peak for the masses back in Portland to see.)
One of my favorites is the story of where the Mazamas, a long-standing mountaineering and outdoor club based in Portland, got its start in 1894. From the group’s web site:
Responding to an advertisement run in the Morning Oregonian of June 12, 1894: “To Mountain Climbers and Lovers of Nature . . . It has been decided to meet on the summit of Mt. Hood on the 19th of next month …” more than 300 people encamped on the flanks of Mt. Hood on July 18. By 8:00 am the next day, the first climbing party reached the 11,239’ summit, followed by the rest of the 193 men and women who were to reach the summit that day. One hundred and five climbers became charter members.
And here’s a photo from that very day, courtesy of the Mazamas.