Today is the anniversary of the first successful Everest summit (Hillary and Tenzing), completed in 1953. Fittingly, my husband Gordon and friends Drew, Jake, and Hannah are leaving today to summit Mount Hood. Hood stands 11,239 feet to Everest's 29,029 feet and is much more accessible, requiring a pleasant drive from Portland, rather than a long trek through rural Nepal. About 10,000 people attempt to climb Mount Hood each year. There have been a total of 3,679 completed summits on Everest by 2,436 climbers (2007 figures). Over the years, there have been 210 deaths on Everest. On Hood there have been 130 deaths.
Hood is generally considered an easy summit, although some geographical changes on the mountain in the past year have made it a much more technical climb that it used to be. The Hogsback Ridge (on the popular south route) has shifted west. Also, a technical "ice chute" has formed in the Pearly Gates (a gap in the summit rock formation). Some climbers are opting to climb the "left chute" variation of the Pearly Gates route, but this has also increased the difficulty of the climb, as it is also a technical ice wall 30 feet or greater in height, and with fall exposure of 500+ feet. Everest is also changing. Current data suggests Everest has been growing a half centimeter per year, so every time someone reaches the summit, they set a new altitude record. : )