[/caption] The climb to the summit of Mt. Hood would be much easier and take less time if you didn’t start from the Timberline Lodge which is at about 5900 feet. However, that’s exactly where I started, which added an additional 2,000 feet of elevation as well as an additional 2 hours to my climb. Next time I will pay the $15.00 to travel up the Palmer and Magic Mile ski lift so I will have more time to enjoy the climb. However, at least I can say that I started from the bottom. Since we were expecting a mixed bag of weather I decided to pack as much foul weather gear as I could just in case we found ourselves in some bad weather. I also decided to only pack my camera and just one lens. This really helped cut down on the weight but even so it really slowed me down since I was carrying it in my fanny camera pack. Another reason to take the chair lift is because most of the funnest parts of the climb is just above the Magic Mile chair lift. This is where you can really get a chance to see the alpine glaciers and start to feel like your truly above the clouds. Once you get past the Hogs Back you are immediately introduced to the three vents that are emitting the most horrific and noxious sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide smells that you can imagine. It doesn’t help that you are already exhausted and winded from the high elevation. It’s almost too much to bear but at least you are able to compare the difference between other mountains and the volcanoes of the Pacific Northwest. The grey looking blob in this photo is one of the vents. The other two are off to the upper left and the middle vent was constantly spewing the noxious gasses into the air. The huge pile of rocks that you can see on the right of the photo is an area that is constantly being subjected to avalanches that sends dozens of boulders down the side of the summit. I was able to witness over two dozen huge boulders fall from near the summit and tumble to their resting place. It was really exciting to watch since they were moving at such a fast pace as they tore through other rocks and created large knocking sounds as they echoed in the mountain canyon. I didn’t need to start using my ice axe until the last 1500 feet or so. The last 1500 feet is pretty sketchy, especially since this was the first time I had ever tried to mountain climb with crampons and an ice axe. The climb was awesome and since it seemed pretty dangerous it really made me appreciate Mt. Hood even more. I was beginning to realize that if I fell I could either die or be seriously injured. I also found that the hike down was almost more exhausting than the climb up. Mostly because you’re already completely spent and you now have to retrace your exact steps which is the same distance from when you started. We lucked out on the weather but just as we pulled out of the parking lot we witnessed a bolt of lighting in the near distance.