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.
Early morning smiles
Preparing as the sun rises
And we’re off
Prior tracks in the morning light
It ain’t easy
Taking a break
Looking ahead to Illumination Rock (to the left). It looks deceptively close
And back towards Mt. Jefferson
Jadon getting used to his new setup
and admiring the view
It’s really just a slow hike at this point
Taking a moment to enjoy it all
The summit gets bigger, but it doesn’t seem closer as we ascend
Lots of cool ice formations line the ridges as we get higher
About in line with Illumination Rock
Checking out more cool ice formations, as Lea and Jadon continue on above
Other skiers descend from the saddle
Jadon traverses towards the saddle
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.
From the far side
Lea trying to keep out of the sun
Posing in front of the ice formations
Jadon and I
First time using my new crampons and mountaineering boots.
After a transition, we’re ready to ski
The first couple hundred meters were great skiing…the rest a bit varied and icy.
On our way down
Obligatory beers at the end
Written by Mike Guida who enjoys prolonged outdoor adventures and building stuff with software. Follow him on Twitter