Joe Bike

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

Posted by on March 29th, 2016 at 3:33 pm


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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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. March 29, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    Cool project! I biked up Council Crest once and had to stop 10 times to catch my breath. Doing this every day is impressive!

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    Pete March 29, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Kudos Paul!

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    rick March 29, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Great greenways are there.

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  • Scott Kocher
    Scott Kocher March 30, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Super! Time for a haiku contest to replace the dreadful inscription at the top.

    My entry:

    Hood today? Will see
    Breathe stride roll around and up
    Misty brr but warm


    The bar is set pretty low…

    “In 1898 a party of thirty church ministers, seeking the larger view, boarded six horse-drawn carriages in town and headed uphill at 4:30 pm. Two hours later they arrived [at the top]. Convinced that native people had held council at this lofty site, the ministers named it Council Crest. Today, a two-hour drive leads to the limits of this view and beyond- to untold forest, snow-capped peaks, or the rugged Oregon Coast. And still, seeking the larger view, we gather here to gaze upon Portland, a city great but merely human in the grandeur of its natural setting.”

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    Aixe Djelal March 30, 2016 at 10:31 am

    This is a terrific project, and that is a lot of climbing! Nicely done, Paul.

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      axoplasm March 30, 2016 at 7:17 pm

      Thanks Aixe! I was flattered to get mentioned in the same sentence as you. BicycleHead is inspired.

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    was carless March 30, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Just a note, 500,000 vertical feet is ~94 vertical miles. Space is 60 miles up. This man has ridden enough to make it to space!

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