Mount Adams, WA

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One of the Pacific Northwest's grand volcanoes, Mount Adams offers a great snow climb without the hazards of glacier travel.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

Tom and I had been wanting to get up Adams together since we got stormed off during a ski attempt a couple years ago.

That's Mt. Adams over Julie's shoulder, taken the day after this trip on the way back to Boise, adventure route. Does it look big?

Julie Platt with Mt. Adams in background

The actual climb started the day before. At 4:30am I knocked on the TP's door and they were ready. We drove up to Trout Lake and registered, then up to Cold springs and parked. A few minutes later, we were off- at just after 6am.

Our route goes up the South Side, the part of the mountain in the bright light. But that is still several hours away.

Jasmine Platt on trail to Mt. Adams

By the time we saw the markers, above the Pacific Crest Trail, the sun was up. But there was a substantial marine layer leaving low-level clouds. We could see Hood clearly above the clouds, but St. Helens was just barely showing. I've seen conditions like this deteriorate, and really fast, so I was a little nervous about the weather.

And oh- even down low here, the wind was howling. Did I mention I was nervous about the weather?

The Platts with clouds over Trout Lake

But the sky above us was clear, and we were moving up at a steady 1000' per hour. The TPs (Tom Platts) were even faster, as you can tell by the little dots above Jasmine and Julie.

 

jasmine and julie on Sickle Glacier

But we regrouped occasionally, and had fun yakking, etc.

Platts in a row

We made it to the Lunch Counter still on the 1000'/hour rate, but there we stopped for some real food. And we soon stopped again as the steep stuff commenced- time for crampons.

Jasmine and Dad conferencing

And so began the long slog up the steep climb above Lunch Shelf.

We consoled our selves on our decrease in speed, noticing we had climbed fast enough that the little ants were now identifiable as people. Lots of people.

Jasmine following the ants

It took a while, but eventually we were right under Piker's Peak, the false summit. We were staying above the clouds, and the wind had eased off a bit, but the gusts were still quite strong.

All the wind and the steepness of the snow left Jasmine a little worried and scared. We tried to focus on the work at hand and not worry too much about how fast the chunnel was going to be. Well, we tried.

Jasmine with ice axe

From Piker's the view of the real summit is real-ly discouraging. And the wind up here was screaming. We bundled up and soldiered on.

Mt. Adams from Pikers peak

There was a good boot trail leading up to the real summit. Some of us practiced rest stepping. Mackenzie and Jasmine counted steps between breaks, then did affirmations during their rests.

Traversing to Mt. Adams summit

These different strategies all seemed to work, but mostly it was a show of grit and determination. We had slowed down quite a bit, and more than a few tears had been shed, but we all made it to the top at about 2:30. Not too far off our 7-hour pace.

 

Tom Platt family on Mt. Adams summit

On top, everyone was tired, and a few were getting cold in the raging wind. Shouting over the wind, we ripped off our crampons, took a few pictures, and turned on our heels for the descent. Sadly, after all that hard work, it was a drag to have to run off so fast.

John Platt family on Mt. Adams summit

Once off the top, we warmed up a bit. On the flats between there and Piker's, the wind was a little weaker.

Taking a short rest, we eagerly put on our sliding pants. Our late summit meant the snow had gotten pretty soft- perfect for chunneling!

We were able to butt-glissade pretty much continuously from Piker's to the Lunch Counter, about 2000 vertical feet. Everyone agreed it was awesome. And what had taken us 5 hours to climb took us just 1 to descend.

Here Chris gives an ice axe salute.

Chris Platt glissading

Mackenzie went without an axe. Here she is about 2/3 of the way down the long face, negotiating a turn with a bump.

Mackenzie Platt glissading

From there, she slid down so fast I hardly had time to aim the camera.

Ooops. Here comes that weather I was worrying about.

Chunnels

Once off the snow, the weather actually improved. The wind died, and the low clouds burned off. But the hurrying had been well-used, since our round trip was still about 12 1/2 hours.

It was a fabulous climb, but we were all tired, and some of us were very sun-burned.

Maybe next time we'll shoot for something a little easier. But the difficulty of this climb left us all proud of our determination and toughness. And the views from 12000' were awe-inspiring.

Mr. Natural Home | 2005 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski