A great climb to an amazing view on the shoulder of Oregon's Mt Hood.

The Pacific Northwest has an abundance of beautiful, technical and fun Alpine ascents.  For those looking to feel the rush of mountaineering but not wanting to push for a summit attempt, Illumination Rock on the southwest ridge of Mt Hood, offers a beautiful way to spend an afternoon or potentially more.  

With vistas to the west and south and a clear view to the summit Illumination Rock was a regularly visited site of the early Mazama and Mountaineers (climbing clubs) of Portland and Seattle.  With a history ripe in far-flung fireworks displays lit from its summit, to the modern day ice climbing done in winter, Illumination Rock has been a must-see destination since people started climbing Mt Hood.

Not for the faint of heart the ascent to aprox 9500 ft is best done in spring and/or fall when the weather is somewhat stable.  A favorite spot for Alpinsts to spend their night on the way to western facing routes, the saddle at the top of Illumination Rock can be a dramatic and inspiring place to spend the night.

How to get there:

Unlike many of the surrounding Cascade peaks folks wishing to make their way up Mt Hood can park at the Timberline Parking lot aprox 5900ft up the side of the mountain.  

From here please be sure to fill out your identification information and planned trip details in order for your safety and others on the mountain.

Once added to the directory, make your way up by following either the climbers trail that leads just to the right of the main ski area or follow directly beneath the Palmer chair, both routes ascending Palmer Glacier.  

Once above the last chair of the Timberline Ski Area you will want to head northwest across the ZigZag glacier towards the predominant rock that sticks out of the horizon line like a sharks fin. 

From here you can glance over the side of the southwest ridge and see Ross Glacier below and look out upon all the people of Portland shining back at you.  

If you do decide to camp, be sure to find some space away from the peak at the col towards the peak.  Illumination Rock, like Mt Hood is made of volcanic unconsolidated rock and ice and often sheds this ice and rock.  Be sure to find space above and away from the peak to camp. 

Pack List

  • Backpack
  • Headlamp
  • Map
  • Compass
  • Snowshoes/ski/snowboad
  • Hiking Poles
  • Grub
  • Waterproof clothes
  • Waterproof and warm hiking boots
  • Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Wool socks
  • Chapstick
  • Winter clothes, layers
  • Potentially: 4 seasons tent and sleeping bag
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RT Distance 6 Miles
Elevation Gain 3600 Feet
Activities Snowboarding, Camping, Photography, Skiing, Snowshoeing, Hiking, Rock Climbing
Skill Level Advanced
Season Spring, Autumn, Winter
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
Groups
Scenic

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