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Skiing Mt. Hood Illumination Saddle

February 02, 2021

A couple Friday’s ago, I was staring out of the window at clear blue skies in Portland. There had been clear skies all week, and I was dreaming of spending a sunny winter day in the mountains. Avalanche conditions and weather reports looked good, so we quickly made plans to ski from Illumination Saddle the following morning.

Lea, Jadon and I left Portland around 5:30am to beat the usual ski traffic and got to the parking lot just in time to catch a beautiful sunrise. It was slow going up hill, as I broke in my new mountaineering boots and they skinned up. I’ve been learning to ski this year, but my skills aren’t quite there yet, so I carried my snowboard on my back.

The day couldn’t have been better, the skies were clear and the wind was light. It was nice enough to hang out at the top of Illumination Saddle for a while and enjoy the high of the incredible day.

Next time we get a weather window like this we’ll probably try for a summit attempt on Mt. Hood.

alt Early morning smiles

alt Preparing as the sun rises

alt And we’re off

alt Prior tracks in the morning light

alt It ain’t easy

alt Taking a break

alt Looking ahead to Illumination Rock (to the left). It looks deceptively close

alt And back towards Mt. Jefferson

alt Jadon getting used to his new setup

alt and admiring the view

alt It’s really just a slow hike at this point

alt Taking a moment to enjoy it all

alt Photoshoot time

alt Jadon

alt Lea

alt Me

alt The summit gets bigger, but it doesn’t seem closer as we ascend

alt Lots of cool ice formations line the ridges as we get higher

alt About in line with Illumination Rock

alt Checking out more cool ice formations, as Lea and Jadon continue on above

alt Other skiers descend from the saddle

alt Jadon traverses towards the saddle

alt Getting closer…

alt And we’re here!

We took a long rest at the saddle, and took in the views. It was so bright on the mountain that sunglasses seemed to have little effect. Between the sun, altitude and exhaustion, Lea spent a couple minutes searching for her sunglasses only to find she was already wearing them.

alt From the far side

alt Lea trying to keep out of the sun

alt Celebration time!

alt Posing in front of the ice formations

alt Jadon and I

alt First time using my new crampons and mountaineering boots.

alt After a transition, we’re ready to ski

alt The first couple hundred meters were great skiing…the rest a bit varied and icy.

alt On our way down

alt Obligatory beers at the end

Written by Mike Guida who enjoys prolonged outdoor adventures and building stuff with software. Follow him on Twitter