One of the things that I’ve found really interesting and unique in my time with Mount Hood is that almost everyone seems to have their own stories and connections with the mountain.
I met a guy on the beach in Clearwater, Florida, last spring who used to make annual skiing trips to Timberline Lodge with his college friends. Another guy, Rocky Henderson, kicked off a long stint of search and rescue missions on Mount Hood in 1986. His first mission ever was the search for a group of Oregon Episcopal School students lost in a storm on the mountain’s south side in 1986.
A sister of an editor I work for used to work up at Timberline Lodge, and she put me in touch with the guy who’s been running Silcox Hut for Timberline since 1993. One woman who read my book contacted me about a brief passage where I mentioned a plaque left on a boulder up near Cooper Spur. The plaque, which reads in part “Walk gently, friend, you are walking in the path of those who went before,” memorializes five Mazama climbers who were killed in a fall while descending Cooper Spur in 1981. One of those climbers was the woman’s husband. She herself helped place the plaque.
With Mount Hood, the stories go on and on.
Just the other day, a reader from Bremerton, Washington, Tom Blakney, dropped me a note to share some of his Mount Hood recollections. He remembered watching his father and other climbers through a telescope at Timberline Lodge in the 1940s as they made their way toward the summit. His father, an amateur climbing guide on Hood and St. Helens, once found himself on the summit of Hood with a frightened Irishman who refused to walk back along the exposed summit ridge when he saw how steep the north side drop off was. With no other options, Blakney’s father and another guide blindfolded the man and led him, tied between the two guides, across the ridge.
Blakney, who twice climbed the mountain himself, also sent along a couple great old photos of his father on the summit of Mount Hood, back when there was a lookout up top.
Ever since I first started exploring Mount Hood back in 1997, I’ve been fascinated by not only the mountain, but by all of the stories that help make it the spectacular peak it is. That’s part of the reason that I wrote a book about Mount Hood, and it’s a big part of the reason why I’ll keep exploring the mountain and writing about it.
Have your own Mount Hood story to share? I’d love to hear it. Drop me a line.