Similar concept to the Rainier Infinity Loop; The Infinity Loop is an unusual challenge dreamed up by iconic Washington climber Chad Kellogg, for Mt. Rainier, but which he was never able to complete due to his untimely passing. The essence of Chad and the Infinity Loop is captured beautifully in "To Infinity" by Dirtbag Diaries - a podcast responsible for spreading inspiration for the whole infinity loop phenomena - it should perhaps be considered essential listening for imparting on this FKT or challenge.
Directions for Starting at Cloud Cap Saddle Campground:
1. climb up Cooper Spur to reach the Summit of Mt. Hood then descend the standard south side route
2. take the Timberline trail back to Cooper Spur.
3. Climb up Cooper Spur again to the summit and descend the south side once more.
4. Lastly, take the Timberline Trail the opposite way back to Cloud Cap Saddle Campground.
While only about 1/3rd as long as the Rainier Infinity Loop, aesthetically the Hood Infinity Loop is every bit as good. The Hood Infinity Loop was originally established by Landon Lim, who at the time was 18yrs old.
The Hood Infinity Loop Challenge:
Aside from FKT chasing, the first Infinity Loop on Rainier was originally done with each of the 4 parts taking roughly a day, this timeline itself is a respectable challenge for partners set out to complete to participate in this community, without chasing sleepless pushing through the wee hours. This sub-4 day - sub-96 hour - timeline feels like a meaningful challenge as a way to plan, execute, and experience this incredible mountain, allowing each part to be completed in daylight hours. A more audacious timeline would be to complete the challenge sub-48 hours, fitting the outing into a standard weekend. Infinity Loops and big volcanoes are aesthetically meant for one another, give it a try!
so, Who's Next?
I'm glad to see someone else had this idea, and executed! If I lived closer, this would be very high on the to-do list... as it is, I'm liable to travel to give it a go!
Hello! Sarah Morris and I will be attempting the Mt Hood Infinity Loop tomorrow 6/22/2020 as a Mixed Gender Unsupported team. Plan is to start at the Tilly Jane Campground around 3am. We’ll be using Coros GPS watches to track and also an InReach Mini. Stoked!
Nate and Sarah, Stoked for you!
Good luck! I hope you have a memorable experience around the mountain.
Oh sweet, sweet Hood Infinity Loop!
I will also be attempting this loop Solo, Unsupported (may change for Landon's original Self-Support style) this week.
Been talking with Landon Lim about this for awhile, its go time!
driving up tomorrow.
I will release my spot tracker data prior to starting!
After stepping back long enough to read reports from HIL and HSum+circ, I decided to postpone.
Nate thank you for your write up!
Jason and Landon, thanks for the supportive messages above! Ultimately we did not complete this earlier in the week. Here's a quick rundown and some of our thoughts:
We made an attempt on the Mt Hood Infinity Loop this past Monday. We were shooting for somewhere in the 24hr range. We started from the Cloud Cap Campground early morning and headed up the approach towards the Cooper Spur route. The climb went well overall. We climbed without a rope/no protection. Our movement felt secure. We quickly realized that there was a lot of snow on this route right now and that the upper portion of the mountain is getting baked in the sun each day. No tracks existed beyond the traverse ridge so we broke trail the whole way up and put in a boot pack.
Things were a bit concerning up high with softening snow and rock fall hazard above from the summit block. One rock did let go when we were exposed. Luckily it decelerated due to the slush snow on top before I caught it with my chest/hands. It was about the size of a football. My wife Sarah was directly below me at the time. We thought it best to climb right against one another rather than be spread apart on the steep sections above (neither was particularly great in this situation). Snow remained supportable but it required a bit of focused climbing. On the upper snow field, boot pen was about mid shin to knee at times which was concerning given how steep it was up there.
The descent down the South Side was simple and felt casual. LOTS of people.
We started the Timberland Trail in the clockwise direction (longer section) back to Cloud Cap. We were almost immediately faced with a lot of snow covering the trail making route finding tough. We figured it'd be temporary and continued to push on. Unfortunately a near majority of this section was covered in snow. Also, the river crossing were quiet aggressive with high fast moving water.
About half way through this trail section we sat down and discussed the conditions, our motivation and ultimately the risk of climbing the north side again given the conditions and current pandemic (Search & Rescue is asking the public to not climb Hood right now. Big red sign on their tv screen in the South Side climbers registration). We felt confident in our ability and fitness but not in the objective hazards (softening snow, active wet avalanche activity, rock fall from the summit, strain/stress on first responders in the event of an accident, etc.). We decided to finish at Cloud Cap Campground on this first lap of the Infinity Loop and come back when the mountain is a bit colder and hopefully the Timberland Trail is snow free.
We did climb the South Side today and took a look back down the Cooper Spur to see if there had been any additional activity. We were shocked to see that our route/boot pack was gone all the way down to the rock ridge traverse before the initial snow apron. Also there was significantly more wet slide avalanche activity that traveled from the steeps down to the lower angle apron. We felt good about our choice not to climb it a second time Monday evening/Tuesday morning.
Wishing anyone else trying this route this season positive vibes. Jason, all the best if you give it a go this week! Landon, nice work on getting this done last year!
Thanks for the update. Good to hear that you made the right calls and got back safe. It seems like the crux of this route might be the conditions. Sounds like there is a lot more snow then I encountered last year. When I did it, Cooper Spur had very little snow and the last steep section was extremely icy and exposed. I hope that you guys accomplish the route when the mountain gets safer.
Appreciate the reply and further explanation of how the conditions were for you when you did it. I agree that conditions will probably define the difficulty of this route and be variable year to year. Thanks for getting this started last year. Again, nice work!
Thank you Nate! I decided to postpone based on your feedback.