Underestimating a mountain is never a good idea. Mount Hood in eastern Oregon is not as high as many summits in the area, nor is it as long a hike as Shasta and some of the others peaks. However, thousands of climbers attempt Mount Hood every year, many of them beginners who don’t realize Mount Hood’s dangers.
The primary danger on Mount Hood is the cornices that form on the leeward side of the mountain. A cornice is an overhanging ledge of snow that forms from wind and heavy precipitation. It can cause avalanches and falling rock if the wind blows in the wrong direction. If you’re climbing a mountain that has cornices, your best bet is to avoid them entirely. Mount Hood, for example, is safest to climb on the opposite side of the mountain. The route is a bit more technically challenging, but you don’t have to worry as much about boulders falling on your head.
When climbing Mount Hood, stick to the snow and the ice rather than trying to gain footholds on the rocks along its face. Rock fall is a significant source of injury on the mountain, mostly for inexperienced climbers who mistakenly believe that climbing on rock will be safer. Not only is this dangerous for you, but also for anyone coming up behind you.
The below-freezing temperatures on Mount Hood can be excruciating, particularly if you don’t think to bring a warm jacket and a pair of insulated gloves. It is also a good idea to bring a compass or other navigational tool just in case you happen to get lost.
Inexperienced climbers are far more likely to reach a point in the climb and realize they can’t go any further. About 40 people are rescued every year from the face or summit of Mount Hood because they can’t go either forward or back. Don’t get into this situation; take an experienced climber with you.