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Silcox Hut Serves A Happy Anniversary

by Matt Zaffino

Bio | Email | Follow: @Zaffino

Posted on March 31, 2008 at 1:06 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:36 PM

You probably remember the media furor over the "Mt Hood 8", the group of climbers, including Velvet the Dog, who got disoriented during a storm on the way back down Mt Hood in February 2007.

I remember that weekend well. Saturday was sunny and beautiful. I went for a run on the outer edges of Forest Park. Admiring the always stunning sights of Mt Adams, Mt Rainier and Mt Hood, I took in the view of the lenticular clouds forming on the summits of Adams and Rainier and thought "yep, Sunday's storm is coming in right on schedule". I didn't know that my friends Dan and Alice were among a group of climbers up on Mt Hood, beginning an adventure that was a bit more than they had bargained for.

Mt Hood; March 21, 2008

But from their scenic perch in Illumination Saddle on on the south side of the volcano, the Mt Hood 8 had no such view of the foretelling clouds licking the summits of Mt Hood's northern neighbors. They enjoyed a great evening snow-camping, awoke to bad weather and did the right thing: started down. A few degrees off on their compass bearing, three of the climbers, and Velvet, took one wayward, blind step in a white-out and tumbled into White River Canyon.

The search and rescue was successful. The onslaught of media attention was at times entertaining and exciting. But this group decided to do more than just enjoy the ride on the wave of overwhelming media interest. After the Ellen Show appearance, and hits on The Today Show and Good Morning America, they put together a fundraising auction and raised tens of thousands of dollars for local search and rescue groups. I help out as emcee and auctioneer, happy to lend a hand to friends who were doing such a great thing for the climbing community.

Last weekend they commemorated the entire odyssey from Illumination Saddle to The Ellen Show with a weekend back on the mountain, this time in the cozy confines of Silcox Hut. Silcox is like a mini-Timberline lodge, 1,000 feet above the main lodge at the top of the Magic Mile chairlift.

Silcox Hut at night

Celebrating Inside Silcox Hut

The Mt Hood 8 knows how to throw a party! We danced. We ate well, drank well and looked at a slide show of the climb and video highlights and lowlights of the news coverage of the event. But what was more glaring than any camera lights was the comraderie, caring and passion this group shares for its sport, the outdoors, and above all, for each other.


Looking down on the lights of Ski Bowl from Silcox Hut

Since we weren't going down to Ski Bowl, Quinn and I went up.... for a night ski under the full moon above Silcox Hut. We slapped on our climbing skins and skied up the mountain a ways. The picture below was made at 11:45 pm with my Nikon D200, on a 20 second exposure at F13 as we enjoyed the ski down. The snow was great!

Skiing by Headlight and Moonlight above Silcox Hut

What to do with headlights when their not in use: Juggle!

Juggling Headlights

The Mt Hood 8 plus friends and family. Yours truly on the far left.

As we head into spring (if it ever returns) climbing season, have fun and be safe out there. Drop me a line and better yet some pictures of your activities and adventures.

Happy Travels,

Matt Zaffino
KGW Chief Meteorologist