Can you see Mt. Hood from Council Crest? One man’s daily quest caught on camera

Can you see Mt. Hood from Council Crest? One man’s daily quest caught on camera


Archives of Paul Souders’ photo project.

Paul Souders has climbed to the top of Council Crest peak in the hills southwest of downtown Portland over 500 times in the past four years. That alone is a feat worth reporting. After all, at 1,073 feet above sea level Souders’ legs have earned him over a half-million feet of elevation gain and the bragging rights that go with it.

But what makes his relationship with one of Portland’s most popular climbs even more notable is that he’s taken a photo at the top each time. And not just any photo. He done a sort of amateur meteorological experiment by pointing his camera east toward Mt. Hood and then posting the photo to a website that answers a burning question: Can you see Mt. Hood from Council Crest?

Reached today via email Souders, a freelance graphic designer and software developer, said he started this project about four years ago, about the same time he got an iPhone and started using the online ride-tracking app Strava. With a camera and GPS track in his pocket, he was inspired by a Strava challenge. “I think it was ‘Climb 100,000 feet in April’ or somesuch,” Souders wrote. “I realized: If I topped Council Crest twice a day I could probably do 100,000 feet in a month without a lot of extra effort.”

Since his heyday a few years ago, Souders said the frequency of his climbs has slowed. He’s since moved out of Southwest and often has a little one to deliver to school on his morning commute, “which makes it tougher.” “But I haven’t stopped yet,” he added. “Climbing hills is good for my soul.”

If you’re curious, out of the 505 times Souders has topped Council Crest in the past four years, he could actually see Mt. Hood 210 times. View all the images at the aptly-named website,

Souders is not alone in finding a creative way to document his daily commute. Back in June we profiled Aixe Djelal who photographs strangers with her helmet-mounted camera and in 2005 we shared the story of John Beaston’s 99 photos of the Portland skyline taken from the Eastbank Esplanade during his commute.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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