I did Hood in 2000 and camped up on the mountain. Sure there are restrictions,(the dreaded blue bags etc.) but it is absolutely beautiful. We set up around the 8700 ft level and had great views of all the Cascade peaks to the south. You essentially need two days to climb then, the first day we left around 8am while the snow was still a little firm to set up camp. Enjoyed the entire afternoon lounging around camp. Got up the next morning around 5:30 to climb. Many other groups get up much earlier to do their one day ascent. Got down from the summit back to camp around 9:30, had a much better breakfast, broke camp and back down to the lodge by 2:00. Some drawbacks; need two good days of weather, have to haul a heavier load that first day(tent, bag etc.) but if you enjoy backpacking go for it.
Markv hit it just about right. It took us abiut 2.5 hours from Timberline to the top of the Palmer lift where we set up camp. We could have made better time, but it was a beautiful day and we were always stopping and looking around... enjoying our hike. I plan on doing the trip again in a few years when my 9 year old is ready to climb Hood and I'll camp on the mountain again. Enjoy.
I camped also just a little above the top of the Palmer ski lift, at about 8700'. I was glad i did it that way. The only drawback was that there was noise from the grooming machines on the ski slopes that lasted until dark.
It took me 2 and a half hours to walk up from Timberline Lodge to 8700'. I did it in the afternoon. My trip report is in the trip report section.
Yes, people often camp around 11,000 feet on the Emmons Glacier route. As there are limits on how many people can camp at Camp Schurman you may have to. When I climbed the Emmons, due to the permit issue we ended up camping fairly low the first day (maybe 7,000 feet), stayed at around 11,000 feet on the glacier the second night, then summited and hiked out the next. This worked out very well since there's about 10,000 feet of elevation gain on the route, and it puts you in pretty good shape for summit day (which is still long). Watch out for crevasses on the Inter Glacier below Camp Schurman also. Similarly, on the Dissapointment Cleaver route, I prefer to go past Camp Muir and camp around 11,000 feet at Ingraham Flats (Ingraham Glacier). Puts you in good summit position. As we are having almost no winter here in the Northwest, probably earlier in the year will be better than later. For Hood, however, unless someone really wants to, I'm not sure it's worth bringing up the extra camping stuff.
I also made the extra 1,000 ft. climb to Ingraham Flats on Day 1 of my Rainier climb in 1980 to escape the crowds that were building at Camp Muir. I always imagined that it was a much more enjoyable experience than fighting over space and noise at Muir. Also, this choice provides you a head start on summit day by starting out at the base of Disappointment Cleaver. It was quite a sight early on summit day to climb out of my tent and see the many headlamps ascending the cleaver before the sun came up. The liability, of course, is hauling all of your camping gear up another 1,000 feet vertical when you are getting very tired, but that is a choice you can make on the spot. No need for reservations or anything like that (unless times have changed since I was last there).
Back From a Second Tour
of Army Paradise
(Think I'll retire this
Karl, I think the Mount Rainier National Park regulations have chagned since your visit in 1980. When I climbed Mount Rainier on Tuesday in July 1999 I wanted to stay at Ingraham Flats the night before my summit bid, but I was prevented from doing so because it was all booked up. I then requested to stay at Camp Muir and was prevented from doing so because it was all booked up. I settled for camping below Anvil Rock, about 1,000 feet below Camp Muir.
Do you have any feel for how far in advance of your climb date you can request/reserve camp sites at Rainier? For me, when I take the kids up Rainier, I'm going to want to stay on the Ingraham Glacier for the several reasons I mentioned. Camping below Camp Muir makes Day Two too long and too painful.
You can camp in the crater with the usual permits. The number is limited, but I've never heard of it being crowded. Tough to carry your tent or bivy all that way, and the risk of getting snowed in is always there. Sounds like a fun trip, though!
When you say "camp in the crater with the usual permits," you're not talking about any special reservations for a limited amount of sites, correct? From what I understand, there are limited numbers of spots at Schurman, Emmons Flats (?), Camp Curtis (?), but if you're not staying at one of those official camping spots, you're ok with just the permit to go above 10k.' Which of course leads my naturally curious mind to wonder, if you were so inclined, how far away from Schurman you'd have to camp if they had met the quota for that day, i.e., how far do the "borders" of Schurman go out.
In any event, my hope would be to spend one night at a place like Curtis or Schurman and the second at somewhere above the Corridor or the summit itself. Now if I could only put a team together... This might end up being advance planning for 2006 after all.
You do need reservations to camp in the crater. There are a limited number of people permitted each day/night. As for your other question regarding zones around Muir/Schurman, I could not find a specific answer, although it appears there are use limits most places on the mountain. Contact the park rangers for an official answer. Experience says they will visit you at Schurmann and Muir, but not higher up.