We love Rainier. So do a million others. For a wilder, less committing big-summit experience, tackle Oregon’s tallest volcano. The classic Hogsback route of this 11,239-foot peak can be done in a day. You’ll need entry-level mountaineering skills: the ability to navigate well, even in bad weather, and recognize dangerous turn-back conditions. Gear up with crampons, ice axe, and a helmet and tackle the classic Hogsback route. Novices should consider roping up before climbing past the bergschrund at roughly 9,300 feet.
Plan to climb the South Side/Hogsback route from mid-May to mid-July, after avalanche danger has subsided and before too much snow has melted and rockfall turns the south side of the mountain into a bowling alley. Start your summit bid between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. at the Timberline Lodge parking lot.
Strap on your crampons and hike up the east side of the ski trails to the top of the lift and climb snow slopes toward Crater Rock. Keep it on your right and the exposed—and smelly—thermally heated rock of Devils Kitchen on your left, to reach the Hogsback, the snow ridge behind Crater Rock. Stay on the Hogsback to the bergschrund, most often passable on the right side. Pick the least crowded snow chute to the summit. Descend before the sun hits the crater and warms the snow, usually by noon in summer.
REQUIRED: Wilderness permit, ice axe, crampons, rope, and mountaineering skills.
GUIDEBOOK: Climbing the Cascade Volcanoes, by Jeff Smoot ($15, falcon.com)
PERMIT: Required for climbing (free at the Wy’East Timberline Day Lodge)
CONTACT: (503) 668-1700, fs.usda.gov/mthood
-Mapped by Trung Q. Le