Located on Mt Hood’s northside, the Eliot Glacier is the largest glacier in Oregon by volume at about 73,000 acre-ft and was named after Dr. Thomas Eliot, an Oregon Pioneer who resided in Portland in the late 1800’s. It is over 300 feet thick in places and ranges in elevation from approximately 6500 to 10,500 feet. Meltwater from the glacier drains into Eliot Creek and eventually into the East Fork of the Hood River. Though heavily crevassed, good riding can be found on the mid to lower slopes of the Eliot in the late Spring through Summer. The below photo shows an overview of Mt. Hood’s northside in 2010. Eliot Glacier drops off the summit from the right and descends left through the picture. The Coe glacier is at the right. Snowdome, an excellent place to make summer turns, is visible in the middle right of the photo.
The Elliot was first photographed in the late 1800’s, and several photos exist from around the turn of the century. The photo below on the right was taken by Harry Fielding Reid in 1901, and is courtesy of the National Snow and Ice Data Center/World Data Center for Glaciology. The photo to the left is one taken from a similar aspect. As you can see, the glacier looks quite a bit different 105 years later. Recent studies indicate the glacier area has decreased substantially.
A similar photo below gives a different perspective of the glacier over 100 years time. The photo on the left was take sometime before 1912 by G.M. Weister, and appeared in the book The Guardians of the Columbia, published in 1912 by John H. Williams. The photo on the right was taken in July of 2010, on a trip to the Snowdome.
The lower Eliot serves as a great place to find summer turns, and can be combined with a trip to Snowdome or the Langille bowls if you’re seeking more adventure. The photo below is a conglomeration of shots taken from a few recent trips. Top left is an overview of the glacier near the end of July 2008. Top right is from the same vantage point in July 2010. Lower left is a picture of Todd Singleton skinning across the glacier in July 2008 and Lower right is a picture of me riding on the lower Eliot in 2010.
If you’re really adventurous, you can ascend the Eliot via the Sunshine Route to the summit ridge and onto the summit of Hood and ride most of the route in reverse. Numerous hazards exist above the Snowdome. Below are a few photos of the upper Eliot Glacier crevasses and icefall…
The Eliot Glacier is a favorite place to make summer turns in Oregon, and an excellent destination to get up close and personal with Oregon’s largest snow and ice playground.